Oklahoma City is a surprise to many visitors and newcomers, with all the friendliness of a small town and the amenities of our nation's biggest cities. And with nearly fifty attractions, museums and other activities, visitors will never be at a loss for fun things to see and do. Oklahoma City was born in a single day - April 22, 1889. Just a little over a century ago, the site of Oklahoma City was a grass-and-timbered land of gently rolling hills flattening out into prairie in the west. In just over 100 years, this collection of tents grew to a metropolitan city that sprawls across 625 square miles of America's heartland. Its metro population numbers over a million - a third of the entire state's population.
About our past…
Oklahoma's written history began in 1541 when Spanish explorer Coronado ventured through this area. At that time, it was the home of the Plains Indian tribes, such as the Osage, Kiowa, Apache and Comanche. In 1803, Oklahoma was sold to the U.S. as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
In the 1830s, the federal government forced the Five Civilized Tribes to leave their homelands. These tribes were living in the southeastern part of the U.S. They had to walk to Oklahoma over a trail that became known as the "Trail of Tears." Many men, women and children died during this long and treacherous trip. Once these people settled here, Oklahoma became Indian Territory.
Cowboys began their history on the Texas plains. Texas ranchers found they had large supplies of beef with no place to sell it. The East Coast needed beef. To meet that demand, Texas ranchers had to move their cattle to the closest railroads, which were in Kansas. The Chisholm Trail and other cattle routes were made through Oklahoma between 1866 and 1889. While traveling through Oklahoma, the ranchers realized the territory was not only closer to the railroads, but a good location for raising cattle as well. There was one parcel of land that was never given over to any Indian tribe - the Unassigned Lands. In the 1880s, many frontier Americans wanted to move into this land. Soon, landless pioneers began slipping over into this area without authorization. These were the "Boomers," who were trying to force the government into opening the territory up to homesteaders.
President Benjamin Harrison signed legislation that opened up the Unassigned Lands and on April 22, 1889, about 50,000 homesteaders gathered at the boundaries. At noon, the cannon roared, and the hordes of people streamed over the line on wagons and buckboards, horseback, on foot and even on bicycles into the two million acres of land, made their claims and, overnight, Oklahoma City grew out of the plains. The settlers who entered to claim land before the official start of the land run were called Sooners. Hence the state's nickname. On November 16, 1907, the Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory joined, and Oklahoma became the 46th state.
Oklahoma City Today
The pioneer zeal of those early settlers is just as evident in the Oklahoma City of today. The western spirit that helped found Oklahoma City is apparent everywhere you go. Oklahomans are just as likely to be wearing boots and a cowboy hat as they are a suit and tie. Magnificent attractions like the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Remington Park Race Track, Frontier City Theme Park, and the Red Earth Indian Center all reflect the strong ties this area has with its western heritage.
In the early 1990s, the leaders of Oklahoma City were faced with a decision: to compete or retreat. The decision was made to compete and the city launched a visionary project -- one that would change the face of Oklahoma City forever. That plan was Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS), an ambitious program that is one of the most aggressive and successful public-private partnerships ever undertaken in the U.S. The current amount being spent in this public/private partnership exceeds $1 billion.
As a result of that vision, visitors can now enjoy a multitude of new attractions and entertainment options. The 15,000-seat Southwestern Bell Bricktown Ballpark is home to the Oklahoma RedHawks, the Texas Rangers Triple A affiliate, and has been named one of the nation's top two minor league baseball facilities. Our professional ice hockey team, the Blazers, attracts record crowds with its fast-paced, pulse-pounding action in the Ford Center. The Ford Center, a new 20,000-seat sports arena, has proven to be an ideal location for hockey, basketball and concerts.
The Bricktown Canal extends through the Bricktown entertainment district -- just east of downtown, past the Ballpark to the Canadian River. The river is being transformed into a seven-mile-long series of river lakes bordered by landscaped areas, trails and recreational facilities. Shops, restaurants and entertainment, hiking and biking trails, and park areas are part of this developing area.
A multi-million dollar facelift and renovation of the Cox Convention Center has added new meeting rooms and lobby areas, along with a remodeled exterior and exhibit space. The renovation of the Civic Center Music Hall, an historic art deco building, is now the premier performing arts venue in the Southwest.
A new trolley system, the Oklahoma Spirit, covers a three-mile area and loops through downtown with an additional segment of the trolley system linking the Meridian area hotels, state fairgrounds and Stockyards area with downtown and Bricktown. The unique streetcars offer continuous service seven days a week.
Oklahoma City isn't lacking in entertainment options, either. The Oklahoma City Philharmonic Orchestra, Ballet Oklahoma, and Broadway shows at Lyric Theatre and the Civic Center are just the beginning. Beautiful lakes, parks and some of the nation's best golf courses and tennis facilities also await the outdoor enthusiast.
Welcome to the new Oklahoma City.
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