History of Tulsa, Oklahoma

History of Tulsa, Oklahoma

Smack dab in the middle of “Green Country,” you’ll find the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Located in the northeastern part of the state, Tulsa’s first settlers date back to 1836 when the Ozark Bluff Dwellers (a Native American tribe) found their way to the region via the Trail of Tears. They first broke ground along the eastern side of the Arkansas River, and they decided to call their new home “Tallahassee”—however, today this area is located right in the middle of Downtown Tulsa. It wouldn’t take long until others followed the Ozark Bluff Dwellers’ lead, and soon there were “Five Civilized Tribes,” including the Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks and Seminoles, that were calling this place home.

It wasn’t until a decade later when other settlers joined the Native Americans in this new region and began to shift the land from open wilderness to an established city. The area quickly became a well-known trading post and cattle town. Soon after, Tulsa saw its first period of real growth following the Civil War and Reconstruction. The city’s first Post Office opened in March of 1879, at the same time that “Tulsa” was adopted as the official name—stemming from its nickname, “Tulsey Town.” Between the years 1882 and 1889, Tulsa’s population grew from just 200 to 1,100, but that was only the beginning.

The next big boom in the area’s growth came at the start of the 1900s all thanks to one major discovery: oil. Red Fork unearthed oil for the first time in 1901, and then in 1905 Glenn Pool became the location of the biggest oil strike the world had ever seen. Oil prices plummeted around the world, and soon Tulsa and its neighboring regions became the center of oil exploration. After receiving its statehood in 1907, Oklahoma only continued to grow as the population hit 72,000 in 1920 and Tulsa became known as the “Oil Capital of the World.”

Following the oil industry’s success—and unfortunately its decline after World War II—Tulsa began to see success in another industry: airplanes and aerospace. SABRE and American Airlines brought their companies to Tulsa along with many others. Even to this day, there are more than 300 aviation-related companies that call Tulsa their home. But aviation wasn’t the only business that flourished. In 1970, the Tulsa Port of Catoosa opened to connect Tulsa to the rest of the United States and the World by way of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. In the Port’s first year of operation, it saw more than 143 barges carrying over 86,754 tons in cargo.

Today, Tulsa still stands as Oklahoma’s second largest city with an estimated population of 975,666, which is divided in an almost even percent split between males (49.0%) and females (50.9%). With an average household income of $68,210, Tulsa is also known for being one of “America’s Most Livable Communities,” and is home to a buzzing arts’ culture as well as a number of minor league sports teams.

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