Tulsa, Oklahoma facts for kids
Downtown Tulsa's skyline in May 2008.
|Nickname(s): Oil Capital of the World, Tulsey Town, T-Town, The 918|
|Motto: "A New Kind Of Energy"|
Location within Tulsa County, and the state of Oklahoma
|Counties||Osage, Rogers, Tulsa, Wagoner|
|• City||196.8 sq mi (483.8 km2)|
|• Land||192.7 sq mi (483.1 km2)|
|• Water||4.2 sq mi (10.9 km2)|
|Elevation||722 ft (194 m)|
|• Estimate (2015)||403,505|
|• Rank||US: 47th|
|• Density||2,074/sq mi (801/km2)|
|• Metro||961,561 (US: 55th)|
|• CSA||1,131,458 (US: 48th)|
|Time zone||CST (UTC−6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC−5)|
|GNIS feature ID||1100962|
Tulsa // is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 47th-most populous city in the United States. As of July 2015, the population was 403,505, an increase of 11,599 over that reported in the 2010 Census. It is the principal municipality of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area, a region with 981,005 residents in the MSA and 1,151,172 in the CSA. The city serves as the county seat of Tulsa County, the most densely populated county in Oklahoma, with urban development extending into Osage, Rogers, and Wagoner counties.
Tulsa was settled between 1828 and 1836 by the Lochapoka Band of Creek Native American tribe. For most of the 20th century, the city held the nickname "Oil Capital of the World" and played a major role as one of the most important hubs for the American oil industry.
Once heavily dependent on the oil industry, economic downturn and subsequent diversification efforts created an economic base in the energy, finance, aviation, telecommunications and technology sectors. The Tulsa Port of Catoosa, at the head of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, is the most inland river port in the U.S. with access to international waterways. Two institutions of higher education within the city have sports teams at the NCAA Division I level, Oral Roberts University and the University of Tulsa.
It is situated on the Arkansas River at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in northeast Oklahoma, a region of the state known as "Green Country". 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 city has been called one of America's most livable large cities by Partners for Livable Communities, Forbes, and Relocate America. FDi Magazine in 2009 ranked the city no. 8 in the U.S. for cities of the future. In 2012, Tulsa was ranked among the top 50 best cities in the United States by BusinessWeek. People from Tulsa are called "Tulsans".
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The area where Tulsa now exists was considered Indian Territory when it was first formally settled by the Lochapoka / Creek tribes in 1836. They 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 the Talisi, Alabama area. 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 members of the other so-called "Five Civilized Tribes" who had relocated to Oklahoma from the Southern United States; 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.
Incorporation and "Oil Capital" prosperity
On January 18, 1898, Tulsa was officially incorporated and elected its first mayor, Edward Calkins.
Tulsa was a small town near the banks of the Arkansas River in 1901 when its first oil well, named Sue Bland No. 1, was established. Much of the oil 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 (located approximately 15 miles south of downtown Tulsa and site of the present-day town of Glenpool) prompted a rush of entrepreneurs to the area's growing number of oil fields; Tulsa's population swelled to over 140,000 between 1901 and 1930. By 1909, seven years after the discovery of oil in the area, Tulsa's population had sprouted to 180,000. 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.
Known as the "Oil Capital of the World" for most of the 20th century, the city's success in the energy industry prompted construction booms in the popular Art Deco style of the time. Profits from the oil industry continued through the Great Depression, helping the city's economy fare better than most in the United States during the 1930s.
In the early 20th century, Tulsa was home to the "Black Wall Street", one of the most prosperous black communities in the United States at the time. Located in the Greenwood neighborhood, it was the site of the Tulsa Race Riot, one of the nation's worst acts of racial violence and civil disorder, with whites attacking blacks. Sixteen hours of rioting on May 31 and June 1, 1921, was ended only when National Guardsmen were brought in by the Governor. An official report later claimed that 23 black and 16 white citizens were killed, but other estimates suggest as many as 300 people died, most of them black. Over 800 people were admitted to local hospitals with injuries, and an estimated 10,000 people were left homeless as 35 city blocks, composed of 1,256 residences, were destroyed by fire. Property damage was estimated at $1.8 million. Efforts to obtain reparations for survivors of the violence have been unsuccessful but the city and state re-examined the events in the early 21st century, acknowledging the terrible actions that had taken place.
In 1925, Tulsa businessman Cyrus Avery, known as the "Father of Route 66," began his campaign to create a road linking Chicago to Los Angeles by establishing the U.S. Highway 66 Association in Tulsa, earning the city the nickname the "Birthplace of Route 66". Once completed, U.S. Route 66 took an important role in Tulsa's development as the city served as a popular rest stop for travelers, who were greeted by Route 66 icons such as the Meadow Gold Sign and the Blue Whale of Catoosa. During this period, Bob Wills and his group, The Texas Playboys, began their long performing stint at a small ballroom in downtown Tulsa. In 1935, Cain's Ballroom became the base for the group, which is largely credited for creating Western Swing music. The venue continued to attract famous musicians through its history, and is still in operation today.
For the remainder of the mid-20th century, the city had a master plan to construct parks, churches, museums, rose gardens, improved infrastructure, and increased national advertising. The Spavinaw Dam, built during this era to accommodate the city's water needs, was considered one of the largest public works projects of the era. In the 1950s, Time magazine dubbed Tulsa as "America's Most Beautiful City."
A national recession greatly affected the city's economy in 1982, as areas of Texas and Oklahoma heavily dependent on oil suffered the freefall in gas prices due to a glut, and a mass exodus of oil industries. Tulsa, heavily dependent on the oil industry, was one of the hardest hit cities by the fall of oil prices. By 1992, the state's economy had fully recovered, but leaders worked to expand into sectors unrelated to oil and energy.
Tulsa in the twenty-first century
In 2003, the "Vision 2025" program was approved by voters, to enhance and revitalize Tulsa's infrastructure and tourism industry. The keystone project of the initiative, the BOK Center, was designed to be a home for the city's minor league hockey and arena football teams, as well as a venue for major concerts and conventions. The multi-purpose arena, designed by famed architect Cesar Pelli, broke ground in 2005 and was opened on August 30, 2008.
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. Located near the western edge of the U.S. Interior Highlands, northeastern Oklahoma is the most topographically diverse part of the state, containing seven of Oklahoma's 11 eco-regions and more than half of its state parks. The region encompasses 30 lakes or reservoirs and borders the neighboring states of Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas. The geographic coordinates of the city of Tulsa are (36.131294, −95.937332), with an elevation of 700 feet (210 m) above sea level.
The city developed on both sides of the prominent Arkansas River, which flows in a wide, sandy-bottomed channel. Its flow through the Tulsa area is controlled by upstream flood control reservoirs, but its width and depth can vary widely throughout the year, such as during periods of high rainfall or severe drought. A low-water dam maintains a full channel at all times in the area adjacent to downtown Tulsa. This portion of the river is known as Zink Lake.
Heavily wooded and with abundant parks and water areas, the city has several prominent hills, such as "Shadow Mountain" and "Turkey Mountain", which create varied terrain, especially in its southern portions. While its central and northern sections are generally flat to gently undulating, the Osage Hills extension into the northwestern part of the city further varies the landscape. Holmes Peak, north of the city, is the tallest point in the Tulsa Metro area at 1360 ft (415 m) According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 186.8 square miles (484 km2), of which 182.6 square miles (473 km2) of it is land and 4.2 square miles (11 km2) of it (2.24%) is water.
- See also: List of tallest buildings in Tulsa and List of Art Deco buildings in Tulsa, Oklahoma
A building boom in the early 20th century gave Tulsa one of the largest concentrations 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, 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 (many of which can be found in Tulsa's uptown and Midtown neighborhoods).
Building booms in later half of the twentieth century gave the city a larger base of contemporary architectural styles, including a number of buildings by famed architect Bruce Goff, who lived in Tulsa. South, East and Midtown tulsa are also home to a number of ranch and Mid-Century Modern homes that reflect Tulsa's prosperous post-war period.
The BOK Tower, built during this period, is the 2nd tallest building in Oklahoma and the surrounding states of Missouri, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Kansas. Tulsa also has the third-, and fourth-tallest buildings in the state, including the Cityplex Tower, which is located in South Tulsa across from Oral Roberts University, far from downtown. 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. The BOK Center, Tulsa's new arena, incorporates many of the city's most prominent themes, including Native American, art deco, and contemporary architectural styles. Intended to be an architectural icon, the building was designed by César Pelli, the architect of the Petronas Towers in Malaysia.
Downtown Tulsa is an area of approximately 1.4 square miles (3.6 km2) surrounded by an inner-dispersal loop created by Interstate 244, Highway 64, and Highway 75. The area serves as Tulsa's financial and business district, and is the focus of a large initiative to draw tourism, which includes plans to capitalize on the area's historic architecture. Much of Tulsa's convention space is located in downtown, such as the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, the Tulsa Convention Center, and the BOK Center. Prominent downtown sub-districts include the Blue Dome District, the Brady Arts district, the "Oil Capital Historic District", the Greenwood Historical District, Owen Park Historical Neighborhood, and the site of ONEOK Field, a baseball stadium for the Tulsa Drillers opened in 2010.
The city's historical residential core lies in an area known as Midtown, containing upscale neighborhoods built in the early 20th century with architecture ranging from art deco to Greek Revival. The University of Tulsa, the Swan Lake neighborhood, Philbrook Museum, and the upscale shopping districts of Utica Square, Cherry Street, and Brookside are located in this region. A large portion of the city's southern half has developed since the 1970s, containing low density housing and retail developments. This region, marked by secluded homes and suburban neighborhoods, contains one of the state's largest shopping malls, Woodland Hills Mall, as well as Southern Hills Country Club, and Oral Roberts University. East of Highway 169 and north of 61st street, a diverse racial makeup marks the eastern portions of the city, with large Asian and Mexican communities and much of the city's manufacturing industry.
Areas of Tulsa west of the Arkansas River are called West Tulsa, and are marked by large parks, wilderness reserves, and large oil refineries. The northern tier of the city is home to OSU-Tulsa, Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa International Airport, the Tulsa Zoo, the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, and the nation's third-largest municipal park, Mohawk Park.
A 2011 study by Walk Score ranked Tulsa 32nd most walkable of fifty largest U.S. cities.
Tulsa has a temperate climate of the humid subtropical variety (Köppen Cfa) with a yearly average temperature of 60.8 °F (16.0 °C) and an average precipitation of 41.0 inches (1,040 mm). As is typical of temperate zones, weather patterns vary by season with occasional extremes in temperature and rainfall.
Primarily in the spring and early summer months, the city is subjected to severe thunderstorms containing large hail, damaging winds, and, occasionally, tornadoes, providing the area with a disproportionate share of its annual rainfall. Severe weather is not limited to this season, however. For instance, on December 5, 1975, and on December 24, 1982, Tulsa experienced tornadoes. Due to its potential for major flooding events, the city has developed one of the most extensive flood control systems in the nation. A comprehensive flood management plan was developed in 1984 following a severe flood caused by a stalled weather front that dropped 15 in (380 mm) of rain overnight, killing 14, injuring 288, and destroying 7,000 buildings totaling $180 million in damage. In the early 1990s and again in 2000, the Federal Emergency Management Agency honored Tulsa as leading the nation in flood plain management.
On average, May is the wettest month, averaging 5.9 inches of rainfall. Triple-digit temperatures (≥38 °C) are observed on average 11 days per year, sometimes exceeding 105 °F (41 °C) from July to early September, usually accompanied by high humidity brought in by southerly winds; The highest recorded temperature recorded was 115 °F (46 °C) on August 10, 1936. Lack of air circulation due to heat and humidity during the summer months leads to higher concentrations of ozone, prompting the city to release "Ozone Alerts", encouraging all parties to do their part in complying with the Clean Air Act and United States Environmental Protection Agency standards. The autumn season is usually short, consisting of pleasant, sunny days followed by cool nights. Winter temperatures, while generally mild, dip below 10 °F (−12 °C) on 3 nights, and occasionally below 0 °F (−18 °C), the most recent such occurrence being a −2 °F (−19 °C) reading on January 6, 2014. Seasonal snowfall averages 9.6 inches (24.4 cm), and, as of 2016[update], only three winters on record have officially recorded a trace or no snow, the most recent being 1910–11. The lowest recorded temperature was −16 °F (−27 °C) on January 22, 1930.
|Climate data for Tulsa, Oklahoma (Tulsa Int'l), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1893–present|
|Record high °F (°C)||82
|Average high °F (°C)||48.0
|Average low °F (°C)||27.5
|Record low °F (°C)||−16
|Precipitation inches (mm)||1.66
|Snowfall inches (cm)||2.7
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||6.1||6.6||8.7||8.5||10.5||9.8||6.4||6.6||8.0||7.9||6.8||7.0||92.9|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||1.9||1.3||0.6||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.2||1.6||5.6|
|Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990)|
|U.S. Decennial Census
According to the 2010 Census, Tulsa had a population of 391,906 and the racial and ethnic composition was as follows:
- White American: 62.6% (57.9% Non-Hispanic Whites, down from 85.7% in 1970)
- African American: 15.6%
- Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 14.1% (11.5% Mexican, 0.4% Puerto Rican, 0.3% Guatemalan, 0.2% Spanish, 0.2% Honduran, 0.2% Salvadoran)
- Some other race: 8.0%
- Two or more races: 5.9%
- Native American: 5.3%
- Asian American: 2.3% (0.5% Indian, 0.4% Vietnamese, 0.3% Chinese, 0.2% Hmong, 0.2% Korean, 0.2% Burmese)
- Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 0.1%
As of the 2010 census, there were 391,906 people, 163,975 households, and 95,246 families residing in the city, with a population density of 1,991.9 inhabitants per square mile (769.1/km2). There were 185,127 housing units at an average density of 982.3 per square mile (379.2/km2). Of 163,975 households, 27% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.2% were married couples living together, 14.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.9% were non-families. Of all households, 34.5% are made up of only one person, and 10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 people and the average family size was 3.04.
In the city proper, the age distribution was 24.8% of the population under the age of 18, 10.9% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 21.5% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older, while the median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 93.5 males, while for every 100 females over the age of 17 there were 90.4 males. In 2011, the median income for a household in the city was $40,268 and the median income for a family was $51,977. The per capita income for the city was $26,727. About 19.4% of the population were below the poverty line. Of the city's population over the age of 25, 29.8% holds a bachelor's degree or higher, and 86.5% have a high school diploma or equivalent.
The Tulsa Metropolitan Area, or the region immediately surrounding Tulsa with strong social and economic ties to the city, occupies a large portion of the state's northeastern quadrant. It is informally known as "Green Country", a longstanding name adopted the state's official tourism designation for all of northeastern Oklahoma (its usage in relation to the Tulsa Metropolitan Area can be traced to the early part of the 20th century).
The Census Bureau defines the sphere of the city's influence as the Tulsa Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), spanning seven counties: Tulsa, Rogers, Osage, Wagoner, Okmulgee, Pawnee, and Creek. The 2015 U.S. Census estimate shows the Tulsa MSA to have 981,005 residents In 2015, U.S. Census estimates show the Tulsa-Muscogee-Bartlesville CMSA to have 1,151,172 residents.
Tulsa has a rich and diverse religious history, with notable and culturally significant communities of Christians, Jews, Muslims and others.
Tulsa is part of the Southern region demographers and commentators refer to as the "Bible Belt," where Protestant and, in particular, Southern Baptist and Evangelical Christian traditions are very prominent. In fact, Tulsa, home to Oral Roberts University, is sometimes called the "buckle of the Bible Belt". Beyond Oral Roberts, number of prominent Protestant Christians have lived or studied in Tulsa, including Joel Osteen, Carlton Pearson, Kenneth Copeland, Billy Joe Daugherty, Smokie Norful and Billy James Hargis. Tulsa is also home to a number of vibrant Mainline Protestant congregations. Some of these congregations were founded during the oil boom of the early twentieth century and are noted for their architecture (such as the art deco Boston Avenue Methodist Church and First Presbyterian Church of Tulsa).
While the state of Oklahoma has fewer Roman Catholics than the national average, Tulsa has a higher percentage owing in large part to the influx of Eastern and Midwestern settlers during the oil boom. Tulsa's Catholic community is atypically prominent for a Southern city and includes Governor and U.S. Senator Dewey F. Bartlett, Congressmen James Robert Jones and John A. Sullivan, Governor Frank Keating, U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Francis Rooney, and Mayors Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr., Robert J. LaFortune, Bill LaFortune and G. T. Bynum. Holy Family Cathedral serves as the Cathedral for the Diocese of Tulsa.
Tulsa is also home to the largest Jewish community in Oklahoma, with active Reform, Conservative and Orthodox congregations. Tulsa's Jewish community includes several of America's most generous philanthropists including George Kaiser and Lynn Schusterman. Tulsa's Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art offers the largest collection of Judaica in the South-Central and Southwestern United States.
Tulsa is also home to the progressive All Souls Unitarian Church, reportedly the largest Unitarian Universalist congregation in the United States.
Though Oklahoma is placed entirely in the Southern United States by the United States Census Bureau, Tulsa is influenced by the nearby Southwest, Midwest, and Southern cultural regions, as well as a historical Native American presence. These influences are expressed in the city's museums, cultural centers, performing arts venues, ethnic festivals, park systems, zoos, wildlife preserves, and large and growing collections of public sculptures, monuments, and artwork.
Museums, archives and visual culture
Tulsa is home to several internationally renowned museums. Located in the former villa of oil pioneer Waite Phillips in Midtown Tulsa, the Philbrook Museum of Art is considered one of the top 50 fine art museums in the United States, and is one of only five to offer a combination of a historic home, formal gardens, and an art collection. The museum's expansive collection includes work by a diverse group of artists including Pablo Picasso, Andrew Wyeth, Giovanni Bellini, Domenico di Pace Beccafumi, Willem de Kooning, William Merritt Chase, Auguste Rodin and Georgia O'Keeffe. Philbrook also maintains a satellite campus in downtown Tulsa.
In the Osage Hills of Northwest Tulsa, the Gilcrease Museum holds the world's largest, most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West,. The museum includes the extensive collection of Native American oilman and famed art collector Thomas Gilcrease with numerous works by Frederic Remington, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt and John James Audubon among the many displayed.
In addition, the city hosts a number of galleries, experimental art-spaces, smaller museums and display spaces located throughout the city (clustered mostly in downtown, Brookside and the Pearl District). Living Arts of Tulsa, in downtown Tulsa, is among the organizations dedicated to promoting and sustaining an active arts scene in the city.
Cultural and Historical Archives
Opened in April 2013, the Woody Guthrie Center in the Brady Arts District is Tulsa's newest museum and archive. In addition to interactive state-of-the-art museum displays, the Woody Guthrie Center also houses the Woody Guthrie Archives, containing thousands of Guthrie's personal items, sheet music, manuscripts, books, photos, periodicals, and other items associated with the iconic Oklahoma native. The archives of Guthrie protégé, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan will also be displayed in Tulsa when a new facility designed to showcase The Bob Dylan Archive is completed.
With remnants of the Holocaust and artifacts relevant to Judaism in Oklahoma, the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art preserves the largest collection of Judaica in the Southwestern and South-Central United States. Other museums, such as the Tulsa Historical Society,the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium, the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, and the Tulsa Geosciences Center, document histories of the region, while the Greenwood Cultural Center preserves the culture of the city's African American heritage, housing a collection of artifacts and photography that document the history of the Black Wall Street prior to the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.
Since 1969, public displays of artwork in Tulsa have been funded by one percent of its annual city budget. Each year, a sculpture from a local artist is installed along the Arkansas River trail system, while other sculptures stand at local parks, such as an enlarged version of Cyrus Dallin's Appeal to the Great Spirit sculpture at Woodward Park. At the entrance to Oral Roberts University stands a large statue of praying hands, which, at 60 feet (18 m) high, is the largest bronze sculpture in the world. As a testament to the city's oil heritage, the 76-foot (23 m) Golden Driller guards the front entrance to the Tulsa County Fairgrounds.
Performing arts, film and cultural venues
Tulsa contains several permanent dance, theater, and concert groups, including the Tulsa Ballet, the Tulsa Opera, the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, Light Opera Oklahoma, Signature Symphony at TCC, the Tulsa Youth Symphony, the Heller Theatre, American Theatre Company, which is a member of the Theatre Communications Group and Oklahoma's oldest resident professional theatre, and Theatre Tulsa, the oldest continuously operating community theatre company west of the Mississippi River. Tulsa also houses the Tulsa Spotlight Theater at Riverside Studio, which shows the longest-running play in America (The Drunkard) every Saturday night. Many of the world's best choreographers have worked with Tulsa Ballet including: Leonide Massine, Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins, George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, Kurt Jooss, Nacho Duato (ten works), Val Caniparoli who is its resident choreographer (with seven works and four world premieres), Stanton Welch, Young Soon Hue, Ma Cong, Twyla Tharp and many others. In its first international tour in 2002, Tulsa Ballet was declared by the Portuguese national magazine Semanario "One of the best in the world." The company has received two feature articles in Dance Magazine during the past seven years, has been featured in the New York Times, Pointe Magazine and Dance Europe among others. In March 2008, Tulsa Ballet was featured on the cover of Pointe magazine- a distinction given to only one ballet company each year. In April 2008, Tulsa Ballet completed an ambitious $17.3 million integrated campaign, which was celebrated at the opening of the brand new Studio K; an on-site, three hundred-seat performance space dedicated to the creation of new works.
Tulsa's music scene is also famous for the eponymous "Tulsa Sound" which blends rockabilly, country, rock 'n' roll, and blues and has inspired local artists like J.J. Cale and Leon Russell as well as international superstars like Eric Clapton.
A number of concert venues, dance halls and bars gave rise to the Tulsa Sound but Cain's Ballroom might be the best known. Cain's is considered the birthplace of Western Swing, housed the performance headquarters of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys during the 1930s. The centerpiece of the downtown Brady Arts District, the Brady Theater, is the largest of the city's five operating performing arts venues that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its design features extensive contributions by American architect Bruce Goff.
Large performing arts complexes include the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, which was designed by World Trade Center architect Minoru Yamasaki, the Cox Business Center, the art deco Expo Square Pavilion, the Mabee Center, the Tulsa Performing Arts Center for Education, and the River Parks Amphitheater and Tulsa's largest venue, the BOK Center. Ten miles west of the city, an outdoor amphitheater called "Discoveryland!" holds the official title of the world performance headquarters for the musical Oklahoma!.
The city's film community hosts annual festivals such as the Tulsa United Film Festival and Tulsa Overground Film and Music Festival.
Festivals and cultural events
In addition to the film and music festivals mentioned above, Tulsa is home to a number of cultural events and festivals around the year including Mayfest, the Blue Dome Arts Festival, Tulsa Bluesfest, Juneteenth Blues and Jazz Festival, Jazz on Greenwood Festival, Center of the Universe Festival, Bluegrass and Chili Festival, Tulsa Greek Holiday, Shalomfest, Oktoberfest, Tokyo in Tulsa, Reggaefest, ScotFest and more.
The famous literary prize the Helmerich Award is also awarded in Tulsa by members of the Tulsa Library Trust. Famous winners include John Updike, Toni Morrison, Neil Simon, Saul Bellow, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Chabon and Norman Mailer.
The city's zoo, the Tulsa Zoo, was voted "America's Favorite Zoo" in 2005 by Microsoft Game Studios in connection with a national promotion of its Zoo Tycoon 2 computer game. The zoo encompasses a total of 84 acres (34 ha) with over 2,600 animals representing 400 species. The zoo is located in 2,820-acre (1,140 ha) Mohawk Park (the third largest municipal park in the United States) which also contains the 745-acre (301 ha) Oxley Nature Center.
On the west bank of the Arkansas River in the suburb of Jenks, the Oklahoma Aquarium is the state's only freestanding aquarium, containing over 200 exhibits, including a shark tank.
The Tulsa State Fair, operating in late September and early October, attracts over one million people during its 10-day run, and the city's Oktoberfest celebration was named one of the top 10 in the world by USA Today and one of the top German food festivals in the nation by Bon Appetit magazine. A number of other cultural heritage festivals are held in the city throughout the year, including the Intertribal Indian Club Powwow of Champions in August; Scotfest, India Fest, Greek Festival, and Festival Viva Mexico in September; ShalomFest in October; Dia de Los Muertos Art Festival in November; and the Asian-American Festival in May. The annual Mayfest arts and crafts festival held downtown was estimated to have drawn more than 365,000 people in its four-day run in 2012. On a smaller scale, the city hosts block parties during a citywide "Block Party Day" each year, with festivals varying in size throughout city neighborhoods. Tulsa has one major amusement park attraction, Big Splash Water Park, featuring multi-story water slides and large wave pools. Until 2006, the city also hosted Bell's Amusement Park, which closed after Tulsa County officials declined to renew its lease agreement.
Tulsa restaurants and food trucks offer a number of cuisines, but several cuisines are particularly prominent in Tulsa's culinary landscape owing to its distinctive history.
Tulsa is known nationally for its barbecue offerings; its barbecue reflects its midpoint location "between pig country and cow country," that is, on the border of the South and the West. The city's barbecue is also helped by its geography; the wood used in barbecuing is abundant in Northeastern Oklahoma (including pecan, oak, hickory, mesquite and maple). The region's ethnic diversity is felt, too: its BBQ traditions bear the influences of white, African-American and American Indian foodways. Tulsa is also home to the nationally acclaimed premium smoker manufacturer Hasty-Bake Company. Some Tulsa based barbecue joints have expanded even beyond the state's borders, including Rib Crib and Billy Sims Barbecue. The prize-winning Oklahoma Joe's was founded by Oklahoman Joe Davidson, who mastered his craft at Tulsa's T-Town BBQ Cook-Off.
Oklahoma barbecue is also unique in its emphasis on hickory-smoked baloney, nicknamed "Oklahoma tenderloin" and its fried okra.
Lebanese steakhouses were once numerous in the region stretching from Bristow, Oklahoma to Tulsa, but now mostly exist in the Tulsa region. These restaurants were founded by Syrian and Lebanese families who immigrated to Oklahoma before statehood. Traditionally, many of these restaurants had live entertainment (including performers like Ella Fitzgerald and the Ink Spots) and featured Mediterranean dishes like tabbouleh, rice pilaf and hummus alongside local favorites like smoked BBQ bologna.
Chili and Coney Island Hot Dogs
Oklahomans have been consuming chili since well before statehood, owing to the influence of Mexican-American culture on the state. In 1910, iconic Tulsa restaurant Ike's Chili Parlor opened and Ivan "Ike" Johnson is purported to have acquired his recipe from a Hispanic-Texan named Alex Garcia.
Greek immigrants to Tulsa who came by way of Brooklyn, Pennsylvania and Michigan brought with them the tradition of Coney Island-style hot dogs with chili on a bun. Today, a related group of Greek-American families operate Coney restaurants around the city, including Coney I-Lander which opened in 1926 and was described by food writers Jane and Michael Stern as perfectly delivering "the cheap-eats ecstasy that is the Coney's soul". Many of these restaurants sell Greek food, either year round or at Tulsa's annual Greek Holiday, sponsored by Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church (which dates to 1925).
Southern "Homestyle" Food
By and large, Tulsa's traditional cuisine reflects the influence of Southern foodways, particularly "upland South and... Texas where many of Oklahoma's nineteenth-century population originated." The prominence of certain foods reflects the agricultural heritage of the surrounding regions. For instance, at the suggestion of experts at what is now Oklahoma State University, peanuts became a major crop in now eastern Oklahoma as a means for lessening the reliance on cotton cultivation. Chicken-fried steak is part of the state meal of Oklahoma and is the signature dish at a number of Tulsa restaurants.
Wild Onion Dinner
The wild onion dinner is a festive gathering that originated with the Southeastern tribes which call Eastern Oklahoma. The meals often feature wild onion, pork, frybread, corn bread, Poke salad and a unique dish known as grape biscuits. The Tulsa Indian Women's Club has been holding annual Wild Onion Dinners since at least 1932.
The city of Tulsa manages 135 parks spread over 6,000 acres (2,400 ha). Woodward Park, a 45-acre (18 ha) tract located in midtown Tulsa, doubles as a botanical gardens featuring the Tulsa Municipal Rose Garden, with more than 6,000 rose plants in 250 varieties, and the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens, which demonstrate the latest and most successful techniques for growing vegetables, annuals, perennials, woody plants and groundcovers. Tulsa River Parks is a series of linear parks that run adjacent to the Arkansas River for about 10 miles (16 km) from downtown to the Jenks bridge. Since 2007 a significant portion of the River Parks area has been renovated with new trails, landscaping and playground equipment. The River Parks Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area on the west side of the Arkansas River in south Tulsa is a 300-acre area that contains over 45 miles of dirt trails available for hiking, trail running, mountain biking and horseback riding.
Media and communications
- See also: Media of Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa's leading newspaper is the daily Tulsa World, the second most widely circulated newspaper in Oklahoma with a Sunday circulation of 189,789. Urban Tulsa, another large publication, is a weekly newspaper covering entertainment and cultural events. Covering primarily economic events and stocks, the Tulsa Business Journal caters to Tulsa's business sector. Other publications include the Oklahoma Indian Times, the Tulsa Daily Commerce and Legal News, the Tulsa Beacon, This Land Press, and the Tulsa Free Press. Until 1992, the Tulsa Tribune served as a daily major newspaper competing with the Tulsa World. The paper was acquired by the Tulsa World that year. Tulsa is also served by television and radio broadcasting networks. All major U.S. television networks are represented in Tulsa. Cable television service in the area is provided by Cox Communications. As in most major American cities, local radio stations in the Tulsa area are controlled by a small handful of large broadcasting companies. The late radio personality Paul Harvey was born in Tulsa and worked at local radio station KVOO in his early career.
Western Swing, a musical genre with roots in Country Music, was made popular at Tulsa's Cain's Ballroom. The Tulsa Sound, a variation of Rockabilly, Blues, and Rock 'n' Roll, was started and largely developed by local musicians J. J. Cale and Leon Russell in the 1960s and 1970s. The Tulsa Sound heavily influenced musicians Eric Clapton and Jimmy Markham. Musicians from Tulsa or that started their musical careers in Tulsa include Garth Brooks, The Gap Band, Hanson, Caroline's Spine, Ronnie Dunn, Gene Autry, David Gates, Jamie Oldaker, Jim Keltner, Bob Wills, David Cook, Broncho, Tyson Meade, The Damn Quails, and JD McPherson. In 2012, Tulsa was ranked as having one of the best music scenes outside of New York, Los Angeles and Nashville.
In accordance with the Tulsa Global Alliance, which operates in conjunction with Sister Cities International, an organization that began under President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, Tulsa has been given eight international sister cities in an attempt to foster cross-cultural understanding:
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