Tulsa is one of the largest cities in the United States (U.S) and the second largest in the U.S state of Oklahoma, located in the north-east part of the Oklahoma on the Arkansas River. According to 2012 U.S census estimates, the city has a population of 393,987 and serves as the county seat for the Tulsa County, the most populated county in Oklahoma. The Creek Indians of Alabama, under the Indian removal Act of 1830, were the first to settle in Tulsa in the 1830s. The Creeks named their new village “Tulsy”, meaning old town in memory of their previous homes in Tallassee, Ala hence the name Tulsa. However, in its modern form, the city’s development is traced back to the setting up of the post office in the Indian Territory. Within a century, Tulsa transformed from a small creek tribal town to major oil producer in the world upon discovery of immense natural oil reserves. Oil deposits were discovered in Red Fork and Glenn Pool in 1901 and 1905 respectively, with the city experiencing rapid growth in the area of the petroleum industry. The town was finally incorporated as a city in 1898 and later chartered in 1908, with a population of 1,100 upon incorporation. Tulsa’s population grew to more than 70,000 by 1920 and had a population of 140,000 three decades after it had been incorporated. By 1960, Tulsa was the 19th most densely populated city in the U.S. Tulsa’s land area was triple in an annexation that took place in the year 1966, a decision fueled by fast growing suburbs.
With Tulsa being the largest city in Northeastern Oklahoma and serving smaller towns like Broken Arrow and Sand Spring, idea of Central Place Theory is clearly seen. This I can notice from the tan colors in the image that represent the built infrastructure located centrally. Small towns like Broken Arrow provide even larger service to smaller hinterland towns like Coweta. When it comes to zoning and mixed-use land development, Downtown Tulsa is populated with facilities that take care of services such as concerts and shopping among others. An efficient workforce is located within the downtown Tulsa area, which provides plenty of office space and superb transport system that makes it easy for businesses to operate efficiently
Figure1: Central Place Theory- This picture shows Tulsa and its surrounding area.
Tulsa downtown currently acts as the primary housing and employment center for the region. When it comes to industry, Tulsa City central location in the U.S makes it an ideal location for many businesses such as telecommunication, manufacturing and service oriented industries because of the low operating costs. Tulsa Metropolitan Area ranks as the third lowest in terms of cost of living in the U.S. Tulsa also has a vibrant aerospace industry with over 300 aviation related industries, employing over 32,000 people.
Located on the Verdigris River is the Tulsa Port of Catoosa opened in the early 1971, a major inland port along the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System, and providing low cost transportation to products such as oil and fertilizer. The port also provides employment to thousands on persons. Due to the nature of the industry taking place in Tulsa, healthcare has also become a big industry with over 30,000 people employed with a payroll income to the economy amounting to $1.4 billion.
Tulsa City is divided into district to help serve certain special purpose whose creation and subsequent development cannot be integrated, for example, Art center and industrial sector. The Brady district, named after Wyatt Tate Brady; one of the original incorporators of Tulsa, has become a center of Culture and Arts or Art district. Brady came into the Tulsa area as a shoe salesman, opening among the first mercantile shops in 1890. The Brady district has a mixed collection of businesses such as restaurants, bars, housing and arts establishments giving it a regional and national identity as a region incubating a growing creative economy.
Figures 2& 3: Art District- These picture show the Brady Art District near the downtown area and some of the buildings within it.
Also, what has become known has the BOK District is characterized with the spectacular BOK center and the recently renovated Tulsa convention center, facilities that serve the Tulsa hinterlands as a social and cultural meeting points.
Race relations continue to influence the demographic distribution of the citizens of Tulsa, with some neighborhood exclusively designed for white or black. This is a historical practice that can be traced back to one of the worst race riot in the history of U.S in 1920s.
Figures 4: Race Riots- This picture show the burning of Greenwood District during 1920s riots
During that period, most of the African American residential and commercial districts experienced arson attack and looting by some white rioters. On the economic front, the riots led to the burning down of the Greenwood District, also known as the ‘the Black Wall street’, negatively affecting the wealth of the black community.
The City of Tulsa is endowed with 8, 200 acres of park land within which 140 parks are managed by Tulsa City Park Department. These parks provide Tulsa residents with green zones that can be used for recreational purposes.
Brophy, Alfred. Reconstructing the Dreamland : The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, Race Reparations, and Reconciliation: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, Race Reparations, and Reconciliation. London: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Keller, Crystal. City of Tulsa: A New Kind of Energy. November 29, 2013. https://www.cityoftulsa.org/our-city/doing-business-with-the-city.aspx (accessed April 20, 2014).
Sturken, Marita. Tourists of History: Memory, Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero. London: Duke University Press, 2009.