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Tulsa History

Look on an old enough map and you'll see an Oklahoma-shaped piece of land marked as "Indian Territory." Indian Territory was where Native Americans were relocated to as part of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. In other words, the area's first inhabitants didn't come willingly. The Muscogee Indians dubbed the settlement on the shores of the Arkansas River "tulasi," or "old town," which earned the town the nickname Tulsey Town, and, eventually, Tulsa. (As an interesting side note, "tulasi" was also where Tallahassee got its name.) In 1882, the Frisco railroad brought white settlers, who looked around and said, "Hey, this place isn't so bad," then proceeded to mark off streets and build stores and churches. Then, in 1901 a discovery was made that would change the fate of Tulsa for good: oil. It was first discovered in Red Fork, just southwest of Tulsa, and in 1905 it began gushing at what would become the Glenn Pool oilfield. Tulsa was officially booming, and Oklahoma became a state in 1907. The population of Tulsa grew from just over 1,000 at the end of the 1800s to approximately 72,000 by 1920. A whole second wave of oil discoveries in the 1920s earned it the nickname "The Oil Capital of the World." Wealthy oilmen built opulent mansions and beautiful downtown buildings that reflected the era's art deco architectural style.

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