Tulsa is the second-largest city in Oklahoma. As of July 2015, the population was 403,505. Tulsa was settled between 1828 and 1836 by the Lochapoka Band of Creek Native American tribe. For most of the 1900s, Tulsa held the nickname “Oil Capital of the World,” playing a major role as one of the most important hubs for the American oil industry.
Tulsa is situated on the Arkansas River at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in northeast Oklahoma. Considered the cultural and arts center of Oklahoma, Tulsa houses two world-renowned art museums, full-time professional opera and ballet companies, and one of the nation’s largest concentrations of art deco architecture.
The area where Tulsa is now, was once considered Indian Territory when it was first formally settled in 1836. The Lochapoka and Creek tribes established a small settlement under the Creek Council Oak Tree at the present day intersection of Cheyenne Avenue and 18th Street. This area and this tree reminded Chief Tukabahchi and his small group of trail of tear survivors of the bend in the river and their previous Creek Council Oak Tree back in Talisi, Alabama. They named their new settlement Tallasi, meaning “old town” in the Creek language, which later became “Tulsa.” The area around Tulsa was also settled by member of the other so-called “Five Civilized Tribes” who had been relocated to Oklahoma from the Southern United Stated. Most of modern Tulsa is located in the Creek Nation, with parts located in the Cherokee Nation and Osage Nation.
Although Oklahoma was not yet a state during the Civil War, the Tulsa area did see its share of fighting. The Battle of Chusto-Talasah took place on the north side of Tulsa and a number of battles and skirmishes took place in nearby counties. After the War, the tribes signed Reconstruction treaties with the federal government that in some cases required substantial land concessions. In the years after the Civil War and around the turn of the century, the area along the Arkansas River that is now Tulsa was periodically home to or visited by a series of colorful outlaws, including the legendary Wild Bunch, the Dalton Gang, and Little Britches.
Tulsa was a small town in 1901 when its first oil well, names Sue Bland No. 1, was established. Much of the oild was discovered on land whose mineral rights were owned by members of the Osage Nation under a system of headrights. By 1905, the discovery of the large Glenn Pool prompted a rush of entrepreneurs to the area’s growing number of oil fields. Tulsa’s population swelled ot over 140,000 between 1901 and 1930. Unlike the early settlers of Northeastern Oklahoma, who most frequently migrated from the South and Texas, many of these new oil-driven settlers came to Tulsa from the commercial centers of the East Coast and lower Midwest. This migration distinguished the city’s demographics from neighboring communities (Tulsa has larger and more prominent Catholic and Jewish populations than most Oklahoma cities) and is reflected in the designs of early Tulsa’s upscale neighborhoods.
Geography and Climate
Tulsa is located in the northeastern corner of Oklahoma, 99 miles (159 km) northeast of Oklahoma City; situated between the edge of the Great Plains and the foot of the Ozarks in a generally forested region of rolling hills. The city touches the eastern extent of the Cross Timbers, an ecoregion of forest and prairie transitioning from the drier plains of the west to the wetter forests of the east. With a wetter climate than points westward, Tulsa serves as a gateway to “Green Country“, a popular and official designation for northeast Oklahoma that stems from the region’s green vegetation and relatively large number of hills and lakes compared to central and western areas of Oklahoma, which lie largely in the drier Great Plains region of the Central United States.
A building boom in Tulsa in the early 20th century coincided with the rise of art deco architecture in the United States. Most commonly in the zigzag and streamline styles, the city’s art deco is dotted throughout its older neighborhoods, primarily in downtown and midtown. A collection of large art deco structures such as the Mid-Continent Tower, the Boston Avenue Methodist Church, Will Rogers High School and the Philtower, have attracted events promoting preservation and architectural interest. In 2001, Tulsa served as the host city for the International Art Deco Congress, a semiannual event designed to promote art deco architecture internationally.
In addition, the city’s early prosperity funded the construction of a number of elegant Craftsman, Georgian, storybook, Tudor, Greek Revival, Italianate, Spanish revival, and colonial revival homes. Building booms in the later half of the 20th century gave the city a larger base of contemporary architectural styles. One of the area’s unique architectural complexes, Oral Roberts University, is built in a Post-Modern Futuristic style, incorporating bright gold structures with sharp, jetting edges, and clear geometric shapes.