OKC Facts & History
The pioneering past of Oklahoma City has led it to become the vibrant metropolis you see today – an Open City that is welcoming to all people and all possibilities. We bet you didn't know that the first yield sign was installed right here in Oklahoma in 1950, and the trend of innovation didn't stop there. Not by a long shot.
Here are more fun facts about Oklahoma City and the state of Oklahoma:
- Oklahoma City is the largest city in the State of Oklahoma, with a metro population of more than 1.3 million
- Oklahoma City was settled by the historic Land Run of April 22, 1889. The city's population grew to more than 10,000 in a single day.
- I-35, I-40 and I-44 all converge in Oklahoma City. The metropolitan area has 130+ miles of federal interstate and state highways.
- Oklahoma City averages more than 300 days of sunshine per year
- The world's first installed parking meter was in Oklahoma City, on July 16, 1935.
- The first shopping cart was invented and used in Oklahoma City at Standard Food Markets in 1937.
- The state capitol building at 23rd and Lincoln is the only capitol in the nation with a working oil well on its grounds.
- Oklahoma means "Land of the Red People" in the Choctaw Language.
- Oklahoma was admitted to the Union on November 16, 1907 as the 46th state.
- Oklahoma City is equal distant from Los Angeles and New York, and within 500 miles of 71 million people.
- Oklahoma's state motto is Labor Omnia Vincit - Labor Conquers All Things.
Oklahoma City's Native Sons and Daughters:
- Johnny Bench - Baseball player
- Sam Bradford - NFL athlete
- Charlie Christian - Jazz musician
- Wayne Coyne - Lead singer of The Flaming Lips
- Ralph Ellison - Author
- Blake Griffin - NBA athlete
- Mat Hoffman - BMX athlete
- James Marsden - Actor
- Bobby Mercer - Baseball player
- Megan Mullaly - Actress
- Wes Welker - NFL athlete
From our open skies to our open minds, we invite you to experience the energy, excitement and welcoming spirit of OKC, a city open to all.
Every destination has a story, and Oklahoma City’s story is defined by an openness and enterprising nature. We are dissatisfied by the status quo and have a vision for something better. We’re a city born overnight in a land run by risk-takers seeking a fresh start and promising future. Evidence of these qualities continues today in the construction and growth all around the city, but also lives as an energy flowing through our streets, a buzz surrounding our people.
Whether you show up in cowboy boots or a business suit, there’s more common ground here than you might expect. While known for our diverse American Indian influences intertwined with famous cowboys and colorful oil barons, Oklahoma City’s rich heritage and diversity is ever-evolving and welcomes all with open arms.
In OKC, self-reliance and resiliency have been part of the city’s DNA from the very beginning and lived out in new ways over many decades. Today, Oklahoma City embodies the Modern Frontier and defines its own future. A young city steeped in Western heritage, OKC embraces its roots while paving the way to become a center of innovation and entrepreneurship where anything is possible.
Our visitors seek new, authentic experiences as they explore and are changed by Oklahoma City.
Discover contemporary art and Native American culture, neighborhoods and districts with unique personalities, thriving local restaurants and craft breweries, national sports and family entertainment, outdoor adventures on the Oklahoma River, and a flourishing live music scene.
As you walk along our streets, don’t be alarmed by a smile or hearty hello from a passerby. While they may technically be strangers, Okies can’t help but offer a kindhearted greeting. We’ve been raised on Southern hospitality and proper chivalry mixed with a daring pioneering spirit that relies on collaboration and tends to produce a friendliness some folks aren’t expecting.
Don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation or ask us anything about our city. We’ll be the first to admit, growth and continual improvement come at a price, but local growing pains and national headlines don’t always tell the whole story.
Our unique past and current passions vary greatly, so be open to the unexpected and be ready to share your own story. We can all benefit from being open to and learning from one another.
Welcome to our Open City.
A little more than a century ago, the site of Oklahoma City was a grass-and-timbered land of gently rolling hills flattening out into prairie. Today, Oklahoma City sprawls across 625 square miles of America's heartland. Its metro population numbers over a million - one third of the population of the entire state.
During the 1800s, the U.S. government forcibly relocated Indian tribes from all over the country into the area known as Oklahoma Territory. There was one parcel of land that was never given over to any 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.
On March 2, 1889, President Benjamin Harrison signed legislation that opened up the Unassigned Lands. So, on April 22, 1889, about 50,000 homesteaders gathered at the boundaries. Some people snuck over at night to stake out prime land early, hiding from the army patrols. These people were known as "Sooners."
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. Soon, nearly 10,000 people had staked out claims near the Oklahoma Station - what today is Oklahoma City. Claim jumping was common, as were boundary quarrels that led to fights and considerable bloodshed. Tents were thrown up in haphazard fashion, and mass confusion reigned supreme.
Congress had made no provision for city government, so leaders had to be chosen to restore order. A provisional government was selected, and elections were held on May 1 to select permanent officials. A month after the Land Run, the Commercial Club was formed, which was later renamed the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber began attracting railroads to Oklahoma City, and the new town was well on its way to economic prosperity.
By 1900, the population had doubled.
When statehood came for Oklahoma on November 16, 1907, Oklahoma City was a center of commerce. The Chamber attracted industry and a number of packing plants in what is now Stockyards City. Back then it was known as Packing Town.
In 1910, with a population of 64,000, there was a petition to move the state capitol from Guthrie to Oklahoma City. With enough signatures, there was a popular vote, which Oklahoma City won.
That night, Governor Charles Haskell and a group of conspirators gathered at the Lee-Huckins Hotel. After a midnight trip to Guthrie to retrieve the State Seal, the governor declared the hotel the temporary capitol building. The permanent state capitol, located at Lincoln and 23rd Avenue, was dedicated in 1917.
On December 4, 1928, oil was discovered on the corner of SE 59th and Bryant Ave. in Oklahoma City. In the 27 days before the great gusher could be capped, it spewed 110,496 barrels of oil. The Oklahoma City Field had been discovered, creating the city's most important financial resource and making Oklahoma City the world's newest boom town. Oil continues to be one the most important players in the city's economy.
At more than 200 feet tall, the SkyDance Pedestrian Bridge soars above Interstate 40 in downtown Oklahoma City and has become one of the city's most unique landmarks. The design is inspired by the "sky dance" of the scissor-tailed flycatcher, Oklahoma's state bird.
The 380-foot-long pedestrian bridge and 197- foot-tall sculpture spans I-40 near Robinson Avenue south of downtown. It's made of stainless steel panels that shimmer in the sun and is illuminated nightly with LED color-changing lights.
Planning for SkyDance Bridge began in 2008 when Mayor Cornett announced a competition to design a pedestrian bridge of "iconic status that reflects the cosmopolitan and vibrant qualities of Oklahoma City and serve as a symbol for the City." The bridge opened four years later on April 23, 2012 and was designed by a local firm, MKEC Engineering and Butzer Design Partnership, led by Hans Butzer. Butzer is well known for his work on the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum.
The bridge is located at the heart of the future MAPS 3 downtown park, which began construction in late 2013. The bridge can be accessed at Western Avenue or Robinson/Shields Avenue. From the Western Avenue exit, head east on SW 5th Street to Harvey Avenue and then south to SW 7th Street. There is on-street metered parking at SW 7th Street and Harvey Avenue. From Robinson/Shields Avenue exit, head south to SW 10th Street, then head west to Harvey Avenue. There is also on street parking at this location.