In Depth Born in an afternoon, built over a field of black gold, and redesigned by architect I.M. Pei, Oklahoma City has a history with few plateaus. Between noon and sundown on April 22, 1889, the unassigned prairie lands of the Oklahoma Territory were opened for settlement, and 10,000 land claims surrounding a Santa Fe Railroad station site were made in one afternoon. Oklahoma City blossomed overnight.
Established as state capital in 1910, Oklahoma City welcomed thousands of government employees, whose arrival swelled its population to the largest in the state. Manufacturing concerns were established along with the development of natural resources.
On Dec. 4, 1928, what would become a major force in Oklahoma City's economic future surfaced: The first oil well within the city limits struck a gusher. It changed not only the economy but the scenery. Oil derricks sprouted throughout town, adding a familiar silhouette to the city's rapidly changing skyline. Producing wells still are found on the Capitol grounds, and more than 2,000 wells are either within or adjacent to the city limits. The pool on which Oklahoma City rests is considered among the richest ever developed in the United States.
Along with the discovery of oil, drilling equipment and petroleum refining industries flourished. Aviation remains a major industry, with the FAA Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center and the Civil Aeromedical Institute making their home at Will Rogers World Airport. “OKC,” as the city is affectionately called by its residents, also ranks among the eight primary livestock markets in the country.
A large bronze sculpture of a cowboy and his steed marks the entrance to the Oklahoma National Stockyards, 2501 Exchange Ave., founded in 1910 and said to be the world's largest cattle market. Visitors can watch the cattle auctions on Monday and Tuesday mornings.
To complement the city's successful commercial growth, local leaders recommended a new look for downtown. In 1964 well-known urban architect I.M. Pei created a master redevelopment plan. Inspired by Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens, the rejuvenated area includes lakes, water concourses, landscaped hills, an amphitheater and a striking glass and steel botanical bridge containing a greenhouse with exotic plants. Another innovative addition is the Underground, a system of tunnels and skywalks which connects hotels, office buildings, conference areas, restaurants and stores.
Among Oklahoma City's main public buildings is the Civic Center Music Hall, a performing arts facility. The Art Deco-style building anchors the west end of the downtown Arts District. The Spring Festival of the Arts is held nearby at Bicentennial Park, and Myriad Botanical Gardens hosts a holiday light display and other seasonal events.
Despite a sleek and sophisticated appearance, Oklahoma City has not forgotten its pervasive Western and Native American heritage. It sprang from Indian Territory, and the 39 Native American tribes still represented in the state hold regular tribal activities in and around the city. Their artwork decorates building interiors and is displayed in local galleries and museums.
The skills of horses and cowboys are revered at many rodeos and horse shows as well as at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, and cowboys still practice their trade at horse and cattle ranches in the surrounding region.
Oklahoma City, OK
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
Oklahoma City levies a sales tax of 8.38 percent, a lodging tax of 13.87 percent and a rental car tax of 14.37 percent.
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AllianceHealth Deaconess, (405) 604-6000; Integris Baptist Medical Center, (405) 949-3011; Integris Southwest Medical Center, (405) 636-7000; Mercy Hospital, (405) 755-1515; OU Medical Center, (405) 271-4700; St. Anthony Hospital, (405) 272-7000.
123 Park Ave. Oklahoma City, OK 73102. Phone:(405)297-8900
Will Rogers World Airport
Several rental car agencies serve the Oklahoma City area. Hertz, (405) 681-2341 or (800) 654-3080, offers discounts to AAA members.
Amtrak's Heartland Flyer provides daily train service between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas. The station is at 100 South E.K. Gaylord Blvd. Phone (800) 872-7245.
Greyhound Lines Inc. and Jefferson Lines are the major bus lines that serve the city. They both operate out of the same terminal at 1938 E. Reno Ave. Phone (405) 606-4382.
Cab companies include A1 Taxi Service, (405) 321-3111; and Yellow Cab, (405) 232-6161. Taxis are metered and charge $2.75 per call for the first 1/8 mile and an additional $.25 per 1/8 mile. There is a $1 charge for each additional passenger ages 12+.
EMBARK, (405) 235-7433, operates throughout the metropolitan area. The main terminal/transit center is at 420 N.W. 5th St. Bus fare is $1.75; 75c (ages 7-17 and 60+). A 1-day pass is $4; $2 (ages 7-17 and 60+). Downtown Discovery shuttle buses traverse the downtown area between the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum and Bricktown; fare is free.
Oklahoma River Cruises operates on the Oklahoma River April through December. Boarding points for the 1.25-hour trip are at Regatta Park, 701 S. Lincoln Blvd.; Meridian Landing, 4345 S.W. 15th St.; Exchange Landing, 1503 Exchange Ave.; and Bricktown Landing, at 334 Centennial Dr. Fare is $6 per stop, $15 maximum; $3 per stop, $7.50 maximum (ages 7-12 and 60+). Phone (405) 702-7755.