Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Tulsa, the second largest city in Oklahoma and largest community in the Creek Nation tribal allotment, may surprise you.  For one, Tulsa can claim its very own doppelganger.  Tulsa (originally Tallasi) and Tallahassee come from the same Muskogean roots ("old town" or "old field"-- an ironic name considering the Creeks founded their new settlement after the long and arduous Trail of Tears in 1834).  Tulsa was also site of one of the nation's bloodiest, yet often forgotten, riots, The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, where one of the countries wealthiest black communities, "The Negro Wallstreet" Greenwood District was completely burned to the ground, leaving 10,000 people homeless and countless dead.  Despite its checkered past, Tulsa boomed in the 1930s, thanks to a seemingly endless supply of oil.  Tulsa faired better than most cities during the Great Depression and invested heavily in Art Deco architecture.  Tulsa has some of the finest examples of Art Deco in the country (as well as a fantastic and wacky selection of architecture from other periods).

There was a lot worth seeing.  While I'm home in Houston, I've scheduled posts from my travels in the Sooner State.  Here are some of my favorites.

The Farmer's Market (1929), Art Deco "zigzag" style

Christ the King Parish, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright protege Francis Barry Byrne (1929), Art Deco "zigzag" style

random building, not Art Deco, painted to resemble wood.  

The Public Services Company (1929), Art Deco "zigzag" style

Not Art Deco, but impressive eaves none-the-less.

Interior of the Gillette-Tyrell building (1930), Art Deco "zigzag" style

Art Deco portable heaters.  

The gold lobby of the Philcade building (1930), Art Deco "zigzag" style

The Tulsa Fairgrounds Pavilion (1932), Art Deco "PWA" style

Art Deco objet d'art at the Philbrook Collection.  

see-thru iron

Art Deco toaster

The "Rose Bowl", not Art Deco, but impressive none the less.  

In desperate need of repair, the Riverside Studio (1929), Art Deco "zigzag" style

Egg and Dart madness in nearby Bartlesville 


  1. Greetings from Fayetteville, Arkansas.

    What the heck were you doing in Bartlesville? I'll be in Tulsa next week for the Route 66 marathon.

  2. You recently became my favorite guy in he world, so I went to your blog and your first post is about my hometown! You're awesome.

  3. Colby, your aesthetic sensitivities and sensibility has rendered me permanently priapic. Can't take this zigzag any longer!

  4. Can't believe that egg-and-dart madness didn't make the cut for "I See Penis - Uncircumsized Edition." ;-)

  5. OMG, I had no idea you were a Southern boy. Then again, I have never met someone as polite as you that was not from the south. (One the other hand though, people from the south can be the most cruel & hateful too). I am from Oklahoma, born & raised. I live in Norman, & thank you very much sir. I learned something from this post. Good on you!!!

  6. Colby I worked in Phillps buliding for 10 years. It really made you want to dress up for work with all the gold. BTW..Tulsa spelled backwards is ASLUT! The had pleanty of the when I live there!

  7. really enjoy your blog and particularly this architectural-deco tour of tulsa/oral roberts U.

  8. It's great to see you are touring my old hometown. Tulsa is defintely an architecture-proud city, though unfortunately not always immune to the wrecking ball. Worth a look sometime: in 1980 the Tulsa Junior League published a coffee table book called "Tulsa Art Deco" (no dinky, Kinko's-bound cookbook for J.L. ladies of T-town, thank you very much) and though that edition is generally rare to find (still having one on your coffee table shows "roots"), there is a 2001 reprint, actually quite improved with photos, that is a very handsome documentation of the city's Deco architecture. Next time you are back, check out the 1920's Spanish Missionary styles up on Reservoir Hill, plus a little midcentury stunner at Utica and 37th or 38th.