One of the things I’ve come to appreciate most about Tulsa is its rich architectural history. The city has some really fabulous buildings, many of which were built by wealthy oil tycoons in the first half of the 20th Century when Tulsa earned its reputation as “Oil Capital of the World”. The discovery of oil turned many speculators into millionaires overnight, who then set out to create a downtown that reflected the prosperity of the times.
Some of Tulsa’s first buildings were inspired by the Gothic Revival style that was popular in places like New York and Chicago. During the Roaring Twenties, Tulsans embraced a new flavor of architecture characterized by lavish decoration and futuristic shapes. This modern style, later coined Art Deco, originated in Paris and drew upon an eclectic array of sources for inspiration, including African and Aztec art, King Tut’s tomb, the Machine Age, and principles of aerodynamics. Today Tulsa boasts one of the largest and most well-preserved Art Deco collections in the United States.
I love learning about architecture (it was my major in college, after all) and totally geeked out when I discovered the Tulsa Historical Society offers guided walking tours of downtown. The tour was really interesting; our friendly guide Sue (pictured with me at left), took us inside several historic buildings to look around and take photos. It would be impossible to compile everything I learned into one blog post, but I think it might be fun to highlight the architecture and history behind a few of my favorite buildings in future posts and link them all here. Stay tuned for those! In the meantime, take the downtown walking tour (usually offered at 10 a.m. on the last Friday of the month) if you find yourself in the area. I promise you’ll learn a few riveting factoids, even if you’re not an architecture nerd like me!
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