Oklahoma City is the capital of the state of Oklahoma. Many people shorten its name to OKC. It is the largest city in Oklahoma and the county seat of Oklahoma County. Oklahoma City is the 25th largest US city by population, with about 655,000 people living there. The greater Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area has a population of about 1.3 million people, which makes it Oklahoma’s largest metropolitan area by population.
Little parts of Oklahoma City extend into the neighboring counties of Canadian, Cleveland, and Pottawatomie, though most of these areas are rural ones, wetlands, or suburbs of Oklahoma City. By area, Oklahoma City is the 8th largest city in the country if you include the areas of it that extend into other counties.
Oklahoma City is in the Great Plains region of the United States, and it has one of the largest livestock markets in the world there. Its economic sector is a thriving one and depends heavily on the oil, natural gas, and petroleum products industries. In fact, these industries are the largest economic sector in the city. The city sits on top of an active oil field, and oil drills are easily visible from the grounds of the capitol building. It is also the home of the Tinker Air Force base and the United States Department of Transportation’s Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center.
The city is located on the I-35 corridor, which is a primary travel route going south into Texas and Mexico, as well as north toward Kansas City and Wichita. The northeast section of the city is located in the Frontier Country part of the state and is part of an ecological area called the Cross Timbers. It is a primary hub of civilization in the Great Plains region of the United States.
Oklahoma City was founded in 1889 during the historic Land Run of that time period. It was founded fast, and with meaning, with settlers intending to stay there from the beginning. In fact, it had a population of ten thousand people within hours of its official founding. Another historic event happened in Oklahoma a little over a century after its founding, when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed in April of 1995, killing 168 people, and becoming the worst terrorist attack on US soil until the 2001 terrorist event in New York City and Washington, D.C. It is still the worst act of domestic terrorism on US soil.
Oklahoma City has been struck by thirteen strong tornadoes since weather records have been kept. Eleven of these tornadoes were Category Four ones on the Fujita and Enhanced Fujita Scales, and two were Category Five ones, the strongest tornadoes on the scale.
The city is currently the home of the National Basketball Association’s Oklahoma City Thunder team and has been since 2008. The team plays its home games at the city’s Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Oklahoma was the home of Native American tribes before European settlers came. It was established as an official United States city on April 22, 1889. At the time of settlement, the area of Oklahoma City was called Unassigned Lands in the federal land register. It was previously set aside for all Native American tribes in the United States to live in but was opened up for American settlement by the federal government on the date the city was founded. This opening was called the Land Run, and people were eager to settle this newly opened western land. The population of Oklahoma City doubled between 1890 and 1900. Some well known early settlers of the town include John Shartel, Henry Overholser, Anton Classen, and James W. Maney.
The original capital of Oklahoma was the city of Guthrie. However, by the time Oklahoma was admitted to the union as a state in 1907, Oklahoma City had become bigger, more populous, and more important to the economics of Oklahoma than Guthrie. This is why it was named as the state capital upon Oklahoma gaining statehood. The city was a major and important stop along the famous Route 66 in the early 1900s; in fact, it was mentioned in the 1946 Bobby Troup jazz song “Get Your Kicks on Route 66, which was made a famous song when Nat King Cole covered it.
Before WWII, there were some major stockyards in Oklahoma City. They attracted jobs to the city, and brought in new revenue from places like Omaha and Chicago. Oil was discovered in Oklahoma City in 1928, within the city limits, including right underneath the capitol building. Because of this, Oklahoma City became a major American production center for oil. After the war, the city continued to grow by the construction of the interstate, which turned Oklahoma City into the major city at the convergence of I-35 I-40, and I-44. The construction of Tinker Air Force Base there also helped raise the social and economic profile of the city.
Oklahoma City experienced an urban and cultural decline in the 1970s and 1980s, just like many other American cities. The population of the city declined as families moved out of the city limits and into the supposedly safer and more family-friendly suburbs. There were urban renewal projects in the 1970s that were meant to revitalize the downtown area in Oklahoma City. These projects removed some of the old buildings and replaced them with newer, shinier, more modern ones. However, the projects did not generate interest in the new downtown development that city officials hoped they would. The one big exception was the construction of the Myriad Gardens and Crystal Bridge, which was a botanical garden and modernist conservatory in the middle of downtown Oklahoma City.
The city introduced a huge redevelopment project in 1993 known as the Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS), which was intended to rebuild the core of the downtown area, including civic projects to bring more people, activities, and life to the area. Many new additions were made to Oklahoma City, such as a library, baseball park, convention center, fairgrounds, and renovations to the civic center. It turned into one of the most successful urban renewal projects in the United States, combining both public and private business partnerships to bring new life and new residents to downtown Oklahoma City once more. It is a thriving city with a vibrant downtown area today as a result of the MAPS project.