It's time for The New World to succumb to the journalist trend sweeping the nation that turns all content into lists, lists, lists, lists, lists, and more lists. We have smelled the coffee and are jumping ship onto the bandwagon before the last train pulls out of the station. It's time to shape up, dumb down, and adopt the format of least resistance (at least for this post). Here it goes:
Should a business meeting, a cross country road trip, a romantic getaway weekend, an unforseen abduction, a faulty G.P.S. device, bad map reading, or the unseen hand of God ever bring you to the second largest city in Oklahoma; here are the 10 Top Site to See Before You Leave Tulsa.
Tulsa is conveniently located mid-continent in eastern Oklahoma between the Ozarks and the Osage Hills!
The city sits on the eastern banks of the muddy Arkansas River which begins its journey to the Gulf of Mexico near Leadville in the Colorado Rockies. The river was never of much use to the city since, in the words of a disgruntled steamboat operator, "the bottom of the Arkansas is too near the top."
Tulsa was founded near the end of the Trail of Tears - the forced relocation of the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations from southeastern states to Indian Territory (the eastern section of the present-day state of Oklahoma) following the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The city prospered at the beginning of the 20th century when oil was discovered nearby and for a time it was the Oil Capitol of the World.
The city is burdened with the grim legacy of the single worst incident of racial violence in U.S. history, the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 which destroyed the properous Greenwood neighborhood ("The Negro Wall Street" of the time), burning over 1,000 Black owned homes and killing up to 300 people - a nightmare of injustice whose history was actively suppressed by the local and state power structures until only recently.
With those sobering thoughts in mind, let's start our fabulous tour of the 10 Top Sites to See Before Leaving Tulsa!
1. MAKE A 'PILGRIMAGE" TO THE SACRED GROUNDS OF ORAL ROBERTS UNIVERSITY:
For the divinely tacky 1960's world's fair architecture made possible by Reverend Roberts' wildly successful "prosperity" gospel ministry. Mind you not prosperity for the poor, or for the suffering, or for the parishioners who sent their life savings, but definitely for the Roberts family and Tulsa area builders! Is this what they had a Protestant Reformation for? The New World recommends refraining from making any such inquiries while touring this Christian Mecca of "Higher" learning, lest the heavens send forth a category F5 tornado to wipe the slate clean.
Abandon all hope for an enlightened, secular civilization, all ye who enter here.
Just step inside to meet your maker! I stayed outside.
Oral Roberts truly had the Midas touch:
Water and flame and Christian co-eds...no mixing!
In 1977, Roberts claimed to have had a vision from a 900-foot-tall Jesus who told him to build City of Faith Medical and Research Center, and the hospital would be a success. City of Faith operated for only eight years before closing with $25 million in debt. Oops.
2. MAKE A BEE LINE TO THE AMAZING BOSTON AVENUE METHODIST CHURCH:
For a more exalted architectural experience (and therein truly spiritual!) visit this apotheosis of crazy Art Deco beauty. Designed by Tulsa art teacher Adah Robinson with her former student, architect Bruce Goff, when he was only in his twenties. It has to be seen to be believed.
3. EXPLORE THE TULSA TREASURE TROVE OF ART DECO BUILDINGS:
Tulsa prospered at the height of the Art Deco era and has retained an impressive collection of historic buildings. I stumbled about this gorgeous "Monument" showroom while tracing the path of the original Route 66 along the edge of downtown Tulsa.
This moderne building would have been right at home in Bahaus Berlin in the late 1920's:
The Warehouse Market Building of 1929:
with colorful terra cotta accents:
The Mid-Continent Tower of 1918:
with a beautiful model of the tower in the lobby:
4. DON'T MISS THESE MID-CENTURY MODERN BEAUTIES:
Drive by the Auto Bank - an exuberant building that would be perfectly at home in either Miami Beach or Brasilia.
The Holmes Organization's fabulous brise-soleil:
A unique (fortunately) 1960's apartment tower/hair curler.
And this little modernist marvel that's for rent. Please rescue it!
5. GET YOUR KICKS ON ROUTE 66:
There are still a few traces of the glory years of when Route 66 was THE nation's transcontinental road to the promised land of California:
6. DON'T MISS THE BLUE DOME:
A plucky survivor from the heyday of Route 66 - on the edge of downtown Tulsa (lower center right beyond the endless parking lots):
7. HEAD OUT OF TOWN INTO THE OSAGE HILLS:
Drive north and west into the Osage Hills and the Osage Indian Nation:
8. BARNSTORM THROUGH BARNSDALL AND PAUSE IN PAWHUSKA:
Two little spots on the map in the Osage Hills with some famous progeny:
You can't make this sh*t up.
BARNSDALL: There's only a little there there.
PAWHUSKA: More Hollywood in the Osage Hills - home of Academy AwardTM Winner Ben Johnson:
9. SPEND THE NIGHT IN FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT'S ONLY SKYSCRAPER:
Spend the night in one of the original duplex apartments in Frank Lloyd Wright's only high rise building. Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Tower in Bartlesville, OK (60 miles north of Tulsa) has been turned into a museum and boutique hotel. Originally designed as a complex of four apartment towers for St. Marks-in-the-Bouwerie in New York's East Village in the 1920's, but never built; the design was adapted as a mixed-use tower for an oil man in Bartlesville and opened in 1956 as a company headquarters, commercial office space, and apartment building. If you're ever within 500 miles of Barlesville, make a detour and spend the night. It is totally amazing.
and enjoy the views of greater Bartlesville:
10. GO FOR SOME MORE GOFF AND WATCH THE OKLAHOMA MOON RISE IN SOONER PARK:
A Lutheran church hall by architect Bruce Goff on the edge of Bartlesville with crazy blue cullet glass accents in its random stone facade. Goff practiced in Bartleville for a number of years - after his earlier Art Deco phase (see Item #2) - in an office in the Price Tower:
A private residence by Bruce Goff on a nearby cul de sac:
Sooner Park in Bartlesville is home to Bruce Goff's neglected 1963 "Play Tower" - a fanciful play structure now fenced off and rusting.
It's a fine spot to watch the sun set and the moon rise in the OK evening sky.