Tulsa Introduction Walking Tour, Tulsa

Tulsa Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Tulsa

Straddling the Arkansas River in the U.S. state of Oklahoma, the city of Tulsa is deeply rooted in the Native American history and, more recently, in the oil industry too.

The area of modern Tulsa is considered an Indian Territory, and has been formally settled by Native Americans since 1836. The tribesmen named their settlement Tallasi, which means "old town" in the Creek language, which later became "Tulsa".

The city was officially incorporated in 1898, and, following the discovery of the grand Glenn Pool Oil Reserve in 1905, had seen a surge in population prompted by a rush of entrepreneurs. Known as the "Oil Capital of the World" for most of the 20th century, the city's success in the energy industry fueled construction booms in the popular Art Deco style of the time, resulting in a number of eye-catching structures, such as the Boston Avenue Methodist Church, the Philtower, and more.

Profits from the oil industry continued through the Great Depression, helping the city's economy fare better than most in the United States during the 1930s. The completion of U.S. Route 66 around that time, linking Chicago to Los Angeles, was initiated in Tulsa and has subsequently earned it the nickname "the Birthplace of Route 66". The road played an important role in the city's development as a popular rest stop for travelers.

Owing to its master plan envisaging the construction of parks, churches, museums, and improving infrastructure, in the 1950s Time magazine dubbed Tulsa as "America's Most Beautiful City."

Tulsa's large conservative following, with the majority of locals being Christians, is reflected in a high percentage of Catholics, descendants of the settlers arrived during the oil boom. The Roman Catholic Holy Family Cathedral, the mother church of the Diocese of Tulsa, is now one of the city's key local attractions.

On the artistic side, the prominent downtown sub-district Brady Arts is a home to the Brady Theater, a major performing arts venue, currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Another key location, the centerpiece of the Tulsa Arts District, is the Woody Guthrie Center, famed among other things for its association with singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, whose archive is showcased here.

For a more detailed acquaintance with Tulsa and to experience the warmth of Midwestern nostalgia, take this self-guided walking tour.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Tulsa Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Tulsa Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Tulsa (See other walking tours in Tulsa)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Author: karenl
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Brady Theater
  • Woody Guthrie Center
  • Center of the Universe
  • Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame
  • Tulsa Performing Arts Center
  • Philtower Building
  • Holy Family Cathedral
  • Boston Avenue United Methodist Church
Brady Theater

1) Brady Theater

The Tulsa Theater is both a theater and convention hall in Tulsa. The theater was built in 1914 as the Tulsa Convention Hall. At the time, it was known as the largest convention hall between Kansas City and Houston. The building was designed by architects Rose and Peterson.

The theater underwent several renovations over the years. Most notably, in 1930 it was remodeled into an Art Deco style by architect Bruce Goff. Likewise, in 1952, lobbies were added in the Western Classical Revival style.

The building was previous known as Brady Theater. This was due to the fact that the previous name was in honor of known Ku Klux Klan member W. Tate Brady. Locals often refer to the theater as "The Old Lady on Brady" because of its location on what used to be Brady Street. That street was renamed Reconciliation Way in 2019.

The Tulsa Theater is known for lavish productions, but it also holds a dark place in history. It was used as a detention center by the National Guard during the 1921 Race Riot. The theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Woody Guthrie Center

2) Woody Guthrie Center (must see)

The Woody Guthrie Center is a public museum and archive located in Tulsa, Oklahoma that is dedicated to the life and legacy of American folk musician and singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie. The Center also contains the archives of folk singer, songwriter, and fellow social activist Phil Ochs.

The Woody Guthrie Center features an interactive museum where the public may view musical instruments used by Guthrie, samples of his original artwork, notebooks and lyrics in his own handwriting, and photographs and historical memorabilia that illustrate his life, music, and political activities. Visitors may also view a short biographical film and listen to samples of his music and that of other artists who were influenced and inspired by Guthrie. Various folk music events are sponsored by the Center.

The Woody Guthrie Archives, which is the world's largest collection of material relating to Guthrie's life, are housed on-site in a climate-controlled facility that is partially visible through windows from the public museum area. The archives contain manuscripts, lyrics, correspondence, artwork, scrapbooks, musical recordings, books, and photographs, and are open to researchers by appointment.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Center of the Universe

3) Center of the Universe (must see)

The Center of the Universe is a small, concrete circle surrounded by bricks. It is between Archer Street and MLK Jr. Boulevard. It is known as an acoustic phenomenon due to the fact that standing on the circle allows one's voice to be echoed and distorted at an amplified volume.

Those near the Center of the Universe can take advantage of the brick pavers placed nearby. These signify spots where passersby can hear the strange sound effect from those who are inside the circle.

The project was designed by architect John Laur of JKL Architecture. The purpose was not to create an auditory anomaly but to serve as a decorative outdoor walking path. It is thought that the low planter walls nearby reflect the sounds, which causes the delayed echo.

The Center of the Universe can be reached at any time of the day or night. There is no admission, but visitors might have to wait for others to take their time enjoying the mystery spot.
Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

4) Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization that honors jazz, blues and gospel musicians in the state of Oklahoma. Housed in the former Tulsa Union Depot, the Hall of Fame is a music venue that hosts regular jazz performances. It is also a museum, displaying photographs, biographical information, artifacts, and memorabilia from musicians such as Chet Baker, Earl Bostic, Barney Kessel, and Jimmy Rushing.

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame holds an annual induction ceremony to recognize the meaningful contributions of individuals and groups in jazz, blues, and gospel music. To date, the Hall of Fame has inducted more than 100 musicians and groups.

The Hall of Fame also established the Jay McShann Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999 to honor musicians who enriched Oklahoma's music during their lifetimes.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Tulsa Performing Arts Center

5) Tulsa Performing Arts Center

The Tulsa Performing Arts Center, or Tulsa PAC, is a performing arts venue in the city of Tulsa. It houses four main theatres, a studio space, an art gallery and a sizeable reception hall. Its largest theater is the 2,365-seat Chapman Music Hall. The Center regularly hosts events by 14 local performance groups. Tulsa Ballet, Tulsa Opera, Tulsa Symphony, and Celebrity Attractions (Broadway series) are among the Tulsa PAC's major clients. Tulsa Town Hall, Chamber Music Tulsa, Theatre Tulsa, American Theatre Company, Theatre Pops, Playhouse Tulsa, Theatre North, and the PAC Trust also fill the PAC calendar.

Numerous headliners such as Michael Bublé, Kelly Clarkson, Steve Martin and Anthony Bourdain have appeared at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. The complex was built with a combination of public and private funds and opened in 1977. The building is home to a permanent collection of 76 works of art.

The Tulsa Performing Arts Center launched a regional ticketing company, run by the Tulsa PAC, in 2006. MyTicketOffice.com handles the ticketing for 12 performance arts venues in Oklahoma and Texas.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Philtower Building

6) Philtower Building

Completed in 1928, it was designed by Edward Buehler Delk and financed by renowned oilman and dedicated philanthropist Waite Phillips (1883–1964). In 1941, Phillips deeded the Philtower Building to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), along with most of his Philmont Ranch and Villa Philmonte.

The income from the building was used to help support Philmont. In 1977, the Boy Scouts of America sold the Building to a group of local investors. This group, The Philtower LLC, is the current owner. It is an example of neo-gothic and art deco architecture.

The building represents the Gothic Revival architecture style. A notable feature is the illuminated, sloping tiled roof. The lobby is exquisite with its beautiful lighting fixtures and painted ceilings. Take a stroll in the lobby if you pass by this building. The office on the 21st floor that was used by Waite Phillips has been preserved.

Originally built as a high-rise office building, floors 12–20 were converted to loft apartments in 2004, making the Philtower Tulsa's first mixed use high-rise. The building has 24 floors and is 323 feet tall.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. It was included in the Oil Capital Historic District on December 13, 2010.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Holy Family Cathedral

7) Holy Family Cathedral

Holy Family Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral and the mother church of the Diocese of Tulsa. Construction of the church began in 1912. It was dedicated only two years later though the church wasn't finished until 1927. It was designed in the Gothic Revival and Classic Revival architectural styles by J.P. Curtin of Curtin, Winkler and Macdonald.

Holy Family Cathedral was the tallest building in Tulsa until 1923 when it was overshadowed by the Mayo Hotel. Its height came from the single spire, which is somewhat unique in Gothic architecture. The cathedral and its buildings were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

The stained glass windows may be viewed from both inside and outside of the cathedral. These windows were replicated from stained glass created by the Royal Bavarian Art Institute in Munich. The windows are original to the building.

Those who wish to admire the interior architecture and stained glass may do so via a guided tour. These tours are available from Tuesday through Friday from 9 AM to 4 PM.
Boston Avenue United Methodist Church

8) Boston Avenue United Methodist Church (must see)

The Boston Avenue United Methodist Church is often lauded for its ecclesiastical Art Deco architecture. The church was completed in 1929 after only two years of construction.

The design of the church was envisioned by Adah Robinson, a local art teacher and chair of the art department at the University of Tulsa. Architect Bruce Goff, a former student of Robinson's, used her sketches to create the architectural plans. There is some controversy over who is credited with the final plan, though the church itself credits Robinson as the primary designer

The building uses crockets and finials that are meant to represent two hands raised in prayer. It is constructed from metal, glass, limestone, granite and terracotta. This includes many terracotta sculptures created by artist Robert Garrison, another one of Robinson's students.

The Boston Avenue United Methodist Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. It was named a National Historic Landmark in 1999.

Walking Tours in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Create Your Own Walk in Tulsa

Create Your Own Walk in Tulsa

Creating your own self-guided walk in Tulsa is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Tulsa's Historical Churches

Tulsa's Historical Churches

Tulsa, Oklahoma is home to an array of remarkable churches, cathedrals, chapels, and other religious sites collectively reflecting the city's diverse religious heritage. A good number of these sanctuaries are located downtown. By far more than just places of worship, they are also architectural marvels and cultural landmarks.

Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, with its striking Art...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
University of Tulsa Walking Tour

University of Tulsa Walking Tour

Located on the historic U.S. Route 66, America's "Mother Road", the University of Tulsa campus centers on a wide, grassy, quad-like space, known as Dietler Commons. Formerly called "The U", it is found not far from the downtown area and is dominated by English Gothic architecture.

At the top of Deitler Commons sits one of the campus' most notable landmarks, the...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles