Tulsa offers plenty of walkable districts worth the exploration, from historic staples to newer innovations. Plan a day trip or a full weekend spent visiting local arts, entertainment, dining and nightlife options with the help of this guide to Tulsa’s most unique districts.Learn More
Greenwood Historical District
The Greenwood Historic District in north Tulsa is one of the most culturally significant parts of the city and also home to the ONEOK Field, where the Tulsa Drillers play. It was where Count Basie first heard big band music and was also the inspiration for the name of the famous funk group The GAP Band. The Greenwood District was once one of the most affluent African American communities in the United States with a population of over 10,000 people.
In the early 1900s, the wealthy African American land owner O.W. Gurley moved from Arkansas to Tulsa and bought 40 acres of land. He sold sections of this land to other African Americans, and the settlement grew as Oklahoma became a state. Entrepreneur J.B. Stradford also helped build the area adding popular black owned businesses and fostering a sense of community among residents. The area thrived, and the main thoroughfare through the area on Greenwood Avenue was known as “Black Wall Street” by the 1920s. Black doctors, lawyers and businessmen had their offices along this street.
In 1921, the Tulsa Race Riot became one of the worst acts of violence spurned by racism in American history. Roughly 35 blocks of businesses and homes were burned down, and dozens of people lost their lives. During the mid-1920s, the area was rebuilt and soon thrived again. Jazz and blues music could be found throughout the restaurants and clubs. Since then, some of the area has been lost to urban expansion and construction, particularly the addition of a highway.
Today, there are many historic sites that bring people to this significant part of Tulsa. You can learn about the vast and interesting history of the Greenwood District at the Greenwood Cultural Center and the Mabel B. Little Heritage House. Many buildings from the 1920s and 30s still stand in Greenwood Centre known as “Deep Greenwood” thanks to preservation efforts. The Guess Building survived the Race Riot and is now on the National Register of Historic Places, and the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park is a beautiful and moving memorialization of those who were affected by the 1921 riot.