Oklahoma City History
Oklahoma City was settled on April 22, 1889, when the area known as the "unassigned lands" was opened for settlement in "The Oklahoma Land Run". Some 10,000 homesteaders settled what is now downtown Oklahoma City, and created a tent city in a single day. Within 10 years the population had doubled in what became a permanent settlement and the future state capital of Oklahoma.
By the time Oklahoma was admitted to the Union in 1907, Oklahoma City had surpassed Guthrie, the territorial capital, as the population center and commercial hub of the new state. Soon after, the capital was moved from Guthrie to Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City was a major stop on Route 66 during the early part of the 20th century and was prominently mentioned in Bobby Troup's 1946 jazz classic, "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66," later made famous by Nat King Cole.
Before World War II, Oklahoma City developed major stockyards and, with the discovery of oil within the city limits (including under the State Capitol), it became a center of oil production. Post-war growth accompanied Oklahoma City's location as a major interchange on the Interstate Highway System, with the convergence of I-35, I-40 and I-44 in the city. It was also aided by federal development of Tinker Air Force Base.
As with many other American cities, center city population declined in the 1970s and 80s as families moved to newer housing in nearby suburbs. Urban Renewal projects in the 1970s removed many older historic structures but failed to spark much additional development. A notable exception was the construction of the Myriad Gardens and Crystal Bridge, a botanical garden and modernistic conservatory in the heart of the city.
In 1993, the city passed a massive redevelopment package known as the Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS), which aimed to rebuild the city's core. The city added a new baseball park; central library; renovations to the civic center, convention center and fairgrounds; and a canal to the Bricktown entertainment district. MAPS has become one of the most aggressive and successful public-private partnerships ever undertaken in the U.S. exceeding $3 billion. As a result of MAPS downtown housing has skyrocketed as well as increased demand for residential amenities, such as grocery and other retail stores.
Since the MAPS projects' completion, the downtown area has seen continued development. Several of the downtown buildings are undergoing renovation/restoration projects. Notable among these was the restoration of the Skirvin Hotel in 2007. The famed First National Center is also currently being renovated.
The "Core-to-Shore" project was created to relocate I-40 one mile (1.6 km) south and replace it with a boulevard that will create an entrance to the city. This allows the central portion of the city to expand south toward the Oklahoma River, thus connecting the core of the city to the shore of the Oklahoma River.
Residents of Oklahoma City suffered substantial losses on April 19, 1995 when Timothy McVeigh set off a bomb in front of the Murrah building. The building was destroyed, more than 100 nearby buildings suffered severe damage, and 168 people were killed.
Local residents rallied together in an effort to contribute however they could, with the attack serving to unite the city as it began a new era of revival. The site is now home to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. Since its opening in 2000, over 3 million people have visited. Every year on April 19, survivors, friends and family return to the memorial to read the names of every victim lost.