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Local / Municipal Government: Tulsa-area FAQs

What is the meaning of the name "Tulsa"?

The first historic Tulsa was a Creek Indian settlement on the Tallapoosa River in what is now Alabama. The name "Tulsa" (originally spelled Tulsey or Tulsee) is a shortened pronunciation of Tallasi, which is almost certainly a contraction of Tullahassee or Tallahassee, meaning "Old Town" ("Tulwa," meaning town, and "ahassee," meaning something old) in the Creek language. The name was apparently transferred from Alabama when the Creek Indians were forced to move here.

Adolphus DeLorraine Orcutt (1846-1913), an early Territory rancher and cattleman, and member of Oklahoma's first legislature, evidently suggested the name be used.

Source: Tulsa: From Creek Town to Oil Capital, 1943, pp.3-4.; American Places Dictionary, 1994, vol. 2, p. 556.; Tulsa World, December 21, 1969.; Tulsa World Action Line Column, November 29, 1966.

What is the latitude and longitude of Tulsa?

The latitude of Tulsa is 36 degrees, 9 minutes, 12 seconds North.

The longitude of Tulsa is 95 degrees, 59 minutes, 34 seconds West.

Source: World Almanac and Book of Facts 1997, p. 595.

For what purpose was the historic Cain's Ballroom building originally built?

It was to be a parking garage for Tate Brady.

Source: Tulsa World, June 1, 2003; p.H2.

What is the history of Cherry Street?

Tulsa's only shopping district in a recognized Historic District is a stretch of 15th Street between Peoria and Utica Avenues. The name can be found on the areas original plat maps dating to 1906. Known as "Cherry Street" until the early 1900's, the street was renamed to 15th Street to comply with a city ordinance. The corner of 15th and Peoria became the location for the city's first suburban traffic light, and the first major structure built on Cherry Street was the Bellview School built in 1909.

Source: Tulsa World, November 16, 1992; p.A9.

What are the highest and lowest elevation points in Tulsa County?

The highest point in Tulsa County is near the center of Section 21, T. 19 N., R. 10 E., where the elevation is approximately 1,024 feet above sea level. This high point is located in the western part of the county near Keystone Lake and the Red Fork area. The lowest point is near the SE Corner of Section 25, T. 17 N., R. 14 E., where the Arkansas River crosses the east county line. The elevation is approximately 560 feet above sea level.

Source: Petroleum and Natural Gas in Oklahoma, Part II, Bulletin, No. 19, Oklahoma Geological Survey; Mannford SE Quad, 7.5 Series topographic map; Leonard Quad, 7.5 Series topographic map.

What is the elevation of Tulsa (city) and its metro area suburbs?

  • Tulsa is 804 feet above sea level.
  • Broken Arrow is 755 feet above sea level.
  • Sapulpa is 715 feet above sea level.
  • Sand Springs is 673 feet above sea level.
  • Jenks is 617 feet above sea level.
  • Owasso is 610 feet above sea level.
  • Bixby is 600 feet above sea level.
  • Claremore is 597 feet above sea level.

Source: World Almanac and Book of Facts 1997, p. 595; Comparative Guide to American Suburbs, p. 1095, 2007.

A dictionary of Altitudes in the United States (Series: U.S. Geological Survey No. 274), 1906.

What are the five tallest buildings in Tulsa?

  1. BOK Tower (Williams Center) (1975), 667 feet and 52 stories, is the tallest building.
  2. Cityplex Central Tower (1979), 648 feet, 60 stories.
  3. First Place Tower (First National Bank) (1973), 516 feet, 40 stories.
  4. Mid-Continent Tower (1984), 513 feet, 36 stories.
  5. Bank of America Center (Fourth National Bank) (1967), 412 feet, 32 stories.

Where was Tulsa's first "official cemetery" located?

The first "official cemetery" in Tulsa's early days was centered on what is now the intersection of Second Street and Frisco Avenue - the eastern fifth of which is on the grounds of the new BOK Center. Initially, it was the Creek Indian Cemetery (1882), and it later became known as the Second Street Cemetery and then the Tulsa Cemetery. Burials ceased by 1905 and graves were moved to Oaklawn Cemetery (Tulsa) and Woodlawn Cemetery (Sand Springs) in 1920.

Source: Phil Mulkins, Action Line. Tulsa World, October 31, 2007; p.A5.

How did Glenpool get its name?

In 1905, on the property of Ida Glenn about 10 miles south of Tulsa, Robert Galbreath and Frank Chesley, who opened the oil field, had a true gusher.

Source: Tulsa, Biography of the American City, Danney Goble, 1997

Where is the Frank Lloyd Wright house, Westhope, located?

Westhope is located at 3704 S. Birmingham Ave. The house was built in 1919 for Richard Lloyd Jones, Wright's cousin and owner of the Tulsa Tribune newspaper.

Where is the Creek Council Oak Tree located in Tulsa?

It is located on the northwest corner of 18th & Cheyenne. The Lochapoka Creek Indians gathered at the site of the Council Oak tree for powwows and council fires after being driven from Alabama in 1836. The location has been called Tulsa's oldest known religious site and the birthplace of the city itself. For a picture, click on the web address above.

Is there World Trade Center Memorial located in Tulsa County?

The City of Bixby dedicated this memorial September 11, 2002 in Washington Irving Park. This park is located just north of the Arkansas River bridge on Memorial. It is on the west side of Memorial just under the bridge.

Source: http://bixby.com/washington-irving-park

Where is the "Center of the Universe" in downtown Tulsa?

The "center" is a worn concrete circle, 30 inches in diameter, in the middle of a 13-row circle of bricks eight feet in diameter. It is located at the apex of a rebuilt span of a pedestrian bridge, originally built in the 1930's.

In the 1930's the bridge was for vehicles to cross over the railroad tracks. The new bridge goes over the railroad tracks from Archer Street to First Street, west of the Union depot and immediately south of the Williams Center Tower.

When standing in the "center," one's voice can be heard by people within earshot. Adding to the mystery is a 72.5 foot sculpture by Indian artist Robert Haozous, entitled "Artificial Cloud." It has also been called "Unity".

Where can I find a city limits map, a Tulsa highway plan map, or a zoning map for Tulsa and its' surrounding communities?

INCOG (Indian Nation Council of Governments) has this type of information available on their website.

How large is Tulsa County (land and water) in square miles?

Tulsa county covers 587.02 square miles.

Source: Oklahoma Almanac 2011/2012, p. 525.

How many courts are located in Tulsa County?

In Oklahoma, we have federal courts, state courts, district courts, municipal courts and tribal courts. Below are the courts located within Tulsa County.

When was the city of Tulsa founded?

The city of Tulsa's roots date back to 1836 when Archee Yahola, chief of the Creek Nation, picked a site underneath a large oak tree near the banks of the Arkansas River for councils and meetings. Two Creek words, Tallassee (Old Town) and Lochapokas (Place of Turtles), were used to name the settlement. In 1879, Tulsa existed on the pony mail route through Indian Territory.

Tulsa was incorporated as a city on January 18, 1898.

What are some facts about Tulsa's Golden Driller?

The Golden Driller was designed by George S. "Grecco" Hondronastas. Mr. Hondronastas was born in Greece and came to the United States in 1910. He became an American citizen in 1915.

The Golden Driller was built by Dallas Meade Constructors, Inc., of Tulsa, and installed on May 12, 1966 for the 1966 International Petroleum Exposition (IPE). It is made of fiberglass and concrete, and reinforced with structural steel. It is said to be able to withstand 200 mph winds.

Mid-Continent Supply Company donated the Golden Driller as a permanent symbol of the IPE and of Tulsa, the Oil Capital of the World (at the time).

It is 76 feet tall.

It weighs 43,500 lbs.

It wears a 48 foot belt, and size 393-DDD shoes.

It wears a size 112 hard hat.

Source: Tulsa World, April 20, 1997, p. A17. & Tulsa World, March 25, 1979.

What is Black Wall Street?

Early in the twentieth century, an area of Tulsa called the Greenwood District became famous as an "entrepreneurial center." Due to legal segregation at the time, the Greenwood District was the area of Tulsa where blacks could conduct business. The Tulsa Race Riot caused millions of dollars in damage and this business center burned to the ground. But, by 1942, the area had been refurbished and was prosperous again.

Source: Black Wall Street, by Hannibal B. Johnson, 1998.

The GAP Band got its start in Tulsa. For what do the letters "GAP" stand?

GAP represents three Tulsa streets: Greenwood, Archer, and Pine.

Source: Tulsa World, June 1, 2003; p.H2.

What are historical population numbers for the city of Tulsa and Tulsa MSA?

City of Tulsa Tulsa MSA

1890 - n/a

1900 - 1,390

1910 - 18,182

1920 - 72,075

1930 - 141,258

1940 - 142,157

1950 - 182,740

1960 - 261,685

1970 - 330,350

1980 - 360,919

1990 - 367,302

2000 - 393,049

2010 - 391,906

1890 - n/a

1900 - n/a

1910 - 121,141

1920 - 247,015

1930 - 340,407

1940 - 333,088

1950 - 364,173

1960 - 455,261

1970 - 527,533

1980 - 657,173

1990 - 708,954

2000 - 842,920

2010 - 937,478

Source: U.S. Census Bureau; Oklahoma Almanac

What cities, connected with Tulsa, are in the Sister Cities International Program?

Currently, there are eight active Sister Cities. Included are Beihai, China; Kaohsiung, Taiwan; San Luis Potosi, Mexico; Tiberius, Israel; Utsunomiya, Japan; Celle, Germany; Amiens, France and Zelenograd, Russia.

Source: Tulsa Global Alliance

What is the total area of Tulsa in square miles?

2010 - 196.75 square miles (Census QuickFacts)

2000 - 182.6 square miles (World Almanac and Book of Facts 2011, p. 572).

1990 - 183.5 square miles (County and City Data Book, 1994).

1980 -185.6 square miles (County and City Data Book, 1983).

1970 - 175.71 square miles (City Engineers' Office).

1960 - 48.97 square miles (City Engineers' Office).

1950 - 26.7 square miles (County and City Data Book, 1956).

1940 - 21.4 square miles (County and City Data Book, 1949).

1930 - 21.60 square miles (Census of U.S. Metropolitan Statistics, 1930).

How did Tulsa's streets come to be arranged and named?

Federal government surveyor J. Gus Patton came to Tulsa on August 11, 1901 to survey Tulsa as a part of its request for incorporation. The surveying was completed on December 11, 1901, and approved by the Department of Interior on March 28, 1902.

Tulsa's street system was arranged around the Frisco Railroad in the downtown area. Patton used the tracks as the north-south dividing line and Main Street as the east-west dividing line. Streets east of Main were named for cities east of the Mississippi River and progressed alphabetically outward. Streets west of Main were named after western cities. Patton originally planned to number streets running north and south, however, the streets north of Main were instead named after influential Tulsans and other distinguished Americans. Dan Patton, the younger brother, became city engineer in 1903 and laid out additions using the points of the compass. This explains why the downtown streets are off from the rest of the city streets, and why Tulsa has an intersection of 11th Street East and 11th Street East. After development in north Tulsa expanded to Zion, it was decided to number those streets as well, but the city did name Apache before beginning the system with 26th Street North.

Reasons behind some street names: (Jeff) Archer - owner of Tulsa's first hardware store; (Tate) Brady - prominent businessman; (Samuel) Latimer - real estate developer; Haskell - Charles N. Haskell, Oklahoma's first governor; Woodrow - for President Woodrow Wilson because Wilson had already been used to recognize Tulsa's first dentist. Maybelle - First name of wife of L.J. Martin (Mayor 1910-12); Waverly Drive - Because it wavered; No influential Tulsans had the initials P, V, U, X or Z, therefore, Pine, Virgin, Ute, Xyler and Zion were used; Jasper (Colley) - local businessman; Exceptions for the alphabetical system were made for Tulsan S. R. "Buck" Lewis; and, Harvard was so named because area alumni pressed for it, and Yale supporters then got an avenue as well. Admiral Boulevard was originally Federal Boulevard so named because it was the border between the Creek and Cherokee nations, but no record has been found regarding why it was renamed Admiral. After the city expanded beyond Sheridan Road, which had been merely a country road, the city commission began a numbering system with 65th East Place. Streets named after Indian tribes are: Apache, Cheyenne, Delaware, Erie, Iroquois, Mohawk, Osage, Mingo, Peoria, Quanah, Seminole, Tecumseh, Ute.

What sites in Tulsa are on the National Register of Historic Places?

Tulsa has several districts and individual locations on the National Register of Historic Places. These links will help to locate the sites.

Where are the American Indian paintings located in the Sand Springs area?

The American Indian rock art (or pictographs) date back to the 1500's and is the work of the Plains Indians. This art is located on private property owned by the Sand Springs Home. Contact information for the executive offices is 15 W. 2nd, Sand Springs, OK 74063. Phone: (918)245-1391.

Where can I find a list of Tulsa neighborhood associations?

The City of Tulsa web site lists neighborhood associations and has limited contact information for many of them.

How many registered voters in Tulsa County?

As of January 2012, a total of 325,710 people are registered to vote in Tulsa County.

123,640 people are registered democrats, 163.372 people are registered republicans, and 38,698 people are registered as independents.

Why is Tulsa sometimes called the Magic Empire?

According to an article in Action Tulsa World 9/21/67, the term was adopted by the Tulsa Daily World circulation department in 1922 and referred to the 32-county circulation area of the newspaper. Many local businesses and organizations picked up on the phrase and it seems to have stuck, at least for a while.

Economic forecaster Roger Babson included the Magic Empire in his 1927 report on the "Magic Circle," which was an area of southeastern Kansas, southwestern Missouri, northeastern Oklahoma, and northwestern Arkansas that he described as the safest area (in time of war) in the world. This, of course, was well before the invention of intercontinental ballistic missiles.