Just like the eponymous Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, Oklahoma is synonymous with sweeping prairies and cattle drives. Approximately 10% of the nation’s animal livestock and 6% of wheat comes from Oklahoma. Being at a cultural juncture that includes the Great Plains and Native American territory, it’s no surprise they intersect at Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City (OKC) is where the old midwest intersects with the new. Looking toward the city’s skyline will show early 20th century architecture clashing with the modern. All of it serves to highlight the progress the state has made. Listed below are 5 historical sites that reveal more about the city’s history.
Following the Land Rush of 1889, Oklahoma had established Guthrie as its capital city. On June 11th, 1910, the state seal was moved from Guthrie to OKC and a State Capital was soon commissioned. The State Capitol building at North Lincoln Boulevard was completed in 1917. It features a limestone exterior and marble interior. A dome was part of the original design, but that wouldn’t be added until 2002. It’s also the only government building in the U.S. to have active oil wells on it’s grounds.
In 1889, Henry Overholser invested his fortune in various projects to generate Oklahoma City real estate. He purchased three lots in the Highland Park Addition to build what would become his Mansion. Considered the city’s first mansion, the Overholser boasts architectural styles that clashed with contemporary styles of the early 1900s. Nevertheless, it was embraced as a venue for social gatherings and was eventually purchased by the Oklahoma Historical Society in 1972.
When the Santa Fe railroad line was established, the east of downtown OKC became a booming warehouse and distribution hub. The red brick buildings that sprouted up between the late 19th and early 20th centuries added to its name, Bricktown. After World War II, rail restructuring caused businesses to close and fall into disrepair until the 1990s. Today, it’s now a thriving entertainment epicenter with over 45 businesses.
Cowboys are as much a part of Oklahoma history as they are in Texas. Because of this, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum was founded in 1955 to honor their legacy. The Museum remains world-renowned for its educational events and curated exhibits of Western history and culture. It is also home to the Rodeo Hall of Fame and the Halls of Great Westerners and Western Performers.
What started as a boyhood hobby for Jay Villamarette soon evolved into a successful venture selling animal skulls and skeletal reproductions. His mom-and-pop skeleton business, “Skulls Unlimited,” opened its first retail location in 1990 and expanded to a custom-designed corporate headquarters in 2003. This allowed Villamarette to open his dream, Museum of Osteology-“America’s ONLY Skeleton Museum!” The Museum is a family-oriented environment that educates visitors on comparative anatomy while showcasing specimens not seen in most exhibits. A second museum has also opened in Orlando.