When I was a boy in the 1950's, I used to look toward downtown at night and watch the top of the tallest building, the National Bank of Tulsa, change colors (it was illuminated by different colored lights which cycled). The Philtower Building was the second tallest building. They were the two tallest, most prominent buildings in the Tulsa skyline. Now, you can barely see them among the other larger buildings. The Philtower is the building in the middle with the sloped red and green tile roof.
According to the Tulsa Preservation Commission...
"This unusual building was built in 1928 and 1929, by Waite Phillips, who made over twenty-five million dollars in the oil industry. He gave away most of his money to his employees, the City of Tulsa and the Boy Scouts. This building has an Imperial English colorful, shingle tiled roof, two 13th Century gargoyles (ugly human figures) at the street level and a 25-foot high Gothic arch entrance. Inside, the lobby has a carved Italian marble ceiling, a ceiling fan and specially made lighting fixtures suspended from the ceiling. It has huge elevator doors made of marble and brass with the distinctive WP (Waite Phillips initials) shield."
"Perhaps more than any other building in Tulsa, the Philtower Building is believed by many to have figured in the major decisions affecting the oil and gas industry in the United States. This was particularly true through the 1950s, when many of the most influential of the industry's leaders were either tenants in or visitors to the Philtower. "
Favorite thing: The Tulsa Garden Center is located in historic Woodward Park at 25th and Peoria. The main building is a former Italian renaissance villa that was designed by noted Tulsa architect Nobel B. Flemming. The mansion was built with 21 rooms and 10 bathrooms. Construction was begun in 1919 and was completed in 1921. It has a long and interesting history. The Tulsa Rose Garden is located north of the former villa.
Favorite thing: Both of my parents went to this school. Paul Harvey (real name Paul Harvey Aurandt) of radio fame was in my father's class. Eddie Sutton, a famous basketball coach, was the coach there when I was in high school. It is no longer a school. Public Service Company owns it.
Favorite thing: This English Tudor style manor house was built in 1926 and overlooks the Arkansas River near 21st Street and Riverside Drive. The home's interior has imported marble, hand-carved wood paneling, original oil paintings and other art works. The Harwells' left the mansion to the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa and it provides space for a wide variety of community events.
Favorite thing: The former Warehouse Market is located at 10th and Elgin. It was built in 1929 in art deco style. I remember going there as a small boy right after World War II. We lived further east on 11th Street (10th merges with 11th there), which was also Highway 66. I seem to remember getting ice cream cones and that the ice cream was made there. I heard that someone wanted to tear it down recently but that the historical society helped save it.
Favorite thing: I had not been to downtown Tulsa in a long time. After finishing a reunion activity, I walked around a bit. I never realized there were so many churches downtown. Maybe urban renewal has removed some old buildings and they are just more evident now.
Favorite thing: Part of Tulsa's great diversity and cosmopolitan flare are reflected in its wide range of downtown buildings. The architect and the architecture aficionados will have plenty to admire through an easy stroll downtown. While most will best remember the stone and marble of its famous historic buildings, and bemoan the afflictions of its two old grand hotels of surviving brick, the newest additions to the Tulsa skyline are just as eye-catching and impressive.
The Jenks (a suburb of Tulsa) aquarium, actually named "The Oklahoma Aquarium", is the most interesting thing happening in Tulsa right now. It is only a few years old and growing fast! I've heard many aquarium fans refer to it as one of the best new aquariums in the US and it's only growing.
Fondest memory: Tulsa is a beautiful town, situated on the Arkansas River and surrounded by beautiful green, tree-covered hills that turn brilliant shades of red, yellow, and orange during the fall.
River Parks and its trails are one of the best things about Tulsa and adjacent communities. And the network is growing.
It's possible to ride, walk, jog many miles, from near Bixby in southeast Tulsa to Sand Springs northwest of Tulsa, along the Creek Turnkpike, River Parks and Sand Springs trails which all connect. There are other trails elsewhere, and more are being built as funds become available.
The trails have restrooms, water fountains, fields for soccer, rugby, parcourse, disc golf and other sports, as well as picnic facilities. There is also a skate park, a school for trapeze, a sidewalk bar and cafe (warmer months only) to be enjoyed by the trail users.
Several miles of the trail runs along the shores of the Arkansas River, a major river which drains parts of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle, Missouri, as well as Oklahoma. There is a bicycle-pedestrian bridge that links trails on both sides of the river.
There are bicycle/pedestrian bridges across the Arkansas River.
Favorite thing: Many buildings built in the early 20th century were not only functional towers of space and convenience, but their outward appearances normally featured little details that gave those buildings their character. Skins of glass on modern skyrises might offer employees a workplace of light and space, but it robs the outer world in providing no emblems of craftmanship that will weather the ages and critics alike. Look more closely at the older buildings in downtown America, and the truth will readily appear.
Favorite thing: Though dotted in so many places with old hotels, Tulsa's skyline is essentially modern. New construction and progressive vision mean that downtown's newest members will be interesting, vibrant and sometimes even futuristic. Of the latter type, only our grandchildren can know them as traditional, while we ourselves can deem the present monoliths the eye-pleasing essentials to a modern skyline.
Favorite thing: The best time to visit the downtown area in Tulsa is on the weekends, when the streets are all but deserted. From the very heart of town, where only pigeons or occasional workmen on high-rises might disrupt your private reveries, to the other scenic buildings in the outer blocks, the downtown area is almost comatose except for single skateboarders or other people who have come for the same reason -- to take pictures of downtown.
Favorite thing: Comparison after comparison can be drawn between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, and for many of our smaller towns for that matter. Both beneficiaries of Oklahoma's oil boom days, both skylines have similar architecture and a comparable composition in their buildings. As in Oklahoma City, the premier building (in its day) offered a clock on its outside corner that told the hour of activity and progress within the city's most illustrious ornament. In Tulsa, this distinction belonged to the Mid-Continent Tower.
Favorite thing: GALENA. At the beginning of the twentieth century the zinc and lead mines made the fortune of Main Street in Galena, which became famous for accounting for your pay in a matter of hours with its barmaids and joints. Today, Main Streets worth a look for its nostalgic neglect.
Favorite thing: These are the city's and village's we drove through and by. Conway, Marshfield, Strafford, Springfield, Halltown, Phelps, Rescue, Plew, Avilla, Carthage, Webb city, Joplin, Galena, Riverton, Baxter springs, Quapaw, Commerce, Miami, Afton, Vinita, White oak, Chelsea, Foyil, Claremore, Catoosa, Tulsa