TulsaThe city of Tulsa exudes an atmosphere charged with anticipation. From its early days through its peak as an oil-boom town and up to the present, Tulsa has always been a city striving to move forward. This momentum enabled the town to grow beyond dependency on oil money to become a thriving crossroads for business ventures, all while maintaining a laid-back Southern charm. Visitors to the city will find a mixture of grand new developments and reminders of the past, all bearing the common threads of high hopes and great expectations.
Tulsa's downtown is set near the river, so rather than being the geographical center of town, it is located in the north central section. This area serves as the focal point of many downtown events, such as Mayfest , and features decorative waterways and sitting-places, as well as a number of restaurants and cafes. Many of the older buildings downtown are ornate remnants of the extravagant oil boom days. The Hotel Ambassador , a Tulsa landmark, actually began as a temporary housing facility for oil tycoons who were building their mansions. While the city has had to take steps toward revitalizing certain aspects of the area, one part of downtown nightlife, the fine arts, has never needed attention. Of particular note is the Performing Arts Center , which hosts a multitude of cultural events through the fall, winter and spring.
The west central portion of Tulsa, known as midtown, begins just south of the downtown area. This part of the city is home to some of Tulsa's oldest and most popular business establishments and neighborhoods. There are some mansions in the area, especially near the Arkansas River, where old-money families lived and, in some cases, still live. This upscale history survives today at Utica Square , which is still known as Tulsa's chic place to shop. Woodward Park, the Philbrook Museum of Art and other landmarks only add to the district's character.
Several of Tulsa's most popular neighborhoods are found in midtown. Brookside, Cherry Street and Expo Square are the three most worth mentioning. The area known as Brookside contains a variety of shopping delights, fabulous restaurants and a bustling nightlife. The atmosphere is chic and eclectic, appealing to a younger, more progressive set. Scenic Riverside Drive, which parallels the east bank of the river, and River Parks , are also popular sections of Brookside. The Cherry Street District is set near downtown in the northern midtown area. Visitors to this neighborhood find great shopping, particularly antiques and collectibles, a variety of local eateries, as well as some fabulous old homes in the surrounding residential areas. The Expo Square complex encompasses the huge Expo Center and Pavilion, Big Splash Water Park , Bell's Amusement Park, Drillers Stadium (home of the Tulsa Drillers baseball team) and more. This one area has more things to do per square foot than anywhere else in town, especially during the summer months. There is almost always some sort of exhibit or show going on, and the Tulsa State Fair makes its home here every autumn.
The main highlights of north Tulsa are the Tulsa International Airport and the massive Mohawk Park , which includes the Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum and other outdoor activities. Also found near the airport is the Tulsa Air and Space Museum , which is a great educational, hands-on museum for kids and adults.
This part of town is where Tulsa's new growth is. The Oral Roberts University complex is in this neighborhood, as well as the highly popular Mabee Center arena and the CityPlex Towers (the tallest building in Tulsa). In the eastern sector is Woodland Hills Mall , and mile after mile of shopping centers. This has become one of the busiest and most popular areas of Tulsa in recent years.
Much of Tulsa's major industry can be found here, such as the huge electric plant along the river's west bank, and other manufacturing companies around the railroad tracks and old Route 66. The hills in the northwest corner of this district hold the Gilcrease Museum complex, one of the finest donation-only museums around. Just west of town is Sand Springs and its famous Discoveryland outdoor amphitheater. This part of town isn't always as pretty as the more trendy neighborhoods, but those looking for a true sense of Tulsa's history will find it here.