Sunday, January 21, 2007

Downtown Around Statehood

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My Flash file, Oklahoma Rising, gives a quick image of what Downtown Oklahoma City is like today. But, what was downtown like 100 years ago, plus or minus a few years before and after statehood? This post meanders through some of that turf.

Some topics have already been covered and do not need repeating: Delmar Gardens/Wheeler Park; the Skirvin; the Colcord; and the Chinese Underground.

The years leading to statehood were a pretty rambunctious affair. The pic below shows "Farmers Market" taken in the west 100 block California sometime before statehood ...

The 1st post office, 8 West Main (1889), appearing to show a guy standing guard with a rifle, was replaced in 1890 at 107 North Broadway, but, a bit after statehood (1912), a later post office was built at the NE corner of Harvey and McGee (then NW 3rd). It is the kernel of what is today's bankruptcy court.

Lots more was going on, though. The Lee Hotel was built in 1900 at 22 N. Broadway at the Southeast corner of Main & Broadway. In 1908, this building was totally destroyed by fire. According to Terry L. Griffith, Images of America: Oklahoma City, Land Run To Statehood, at p. 56, the hotel contained the city's 1st electric elevator and both Buffalo Bill Cody and Theodore Roosevelt were guests there. In 1908-09, it was rebuilt, following a fire, and became the Lee-Huckins Hotel.

Although Guthrie was the state's initial capitol city, seen here in 1907 ...

... that would change ...

And, so, the 1902 India Temple building served as the temporary quarters for the Oklahoma Legislature from 1913-1917, until the State Capitol was completed. The building is still standing but is disguised with a fake exterior at the SE corner of Kerr and Broadway (the SE corner of the Kerr-McGee campus). It would become known as the "Wright Building."

The Oklahoman survived its competition and moved from its 1896 location at 26 W. Main to NW 4th & Broadway in 1910. Today, the building is owned by the YMCA.

Somewhere between 1902-1905, the elegant Oklahoma County Courthouse was constructed at 520 W. Main (Main & Dewey). It no longer stands.

The Carnegie library was built in 1902 at the Northeast corner of NW 3rd (now McGee) & Robinson. In 1951, it was replaced by a new library at the same location. Presently, with the 2005 opening of the Norick Downtown Library & Learning Center, the building at this space is not occupied.

Looking south on Broadway to Grand (now Sheridan), the 1902 Culbertson Building appears at the "jog" on Broadway. The building's location illustrates the effect of different survey crews surveying on the North and South of Grand which didn't match. Several northbound Broadway pics were taken from the top of this building. During the 1950s - 60s, this building is remembered for having a Phillips 66 neon sign on its top. According to Terry L. Griffith, Oklahoma City, Land Run To Statehood, when discussing a different picture at p. 18: "A 'Jog' Is Created, 1889. Looking north at the intersection of Johnson (Robinson Avenue) and Clarke (Grand Avenue) Streets, this photograph shoes street 'jogs' that were created when opposing companies in the town refused to alter their survey alignments." That description applies to the pic below, also.

The Overholser Opera House was constructed in 1903 at 217 W. Grand (Sheridan), and notables such as Sarah Bernhardt and Lillian Russell performed there. A 1921 renovation made it the Orpheum, and, in 1928, it was acquired by Warner Brothers and it became the Warner. Below, left, it is next to the Colcord in this post-1910 pic:

Other "streetscapes" just before statehood looked like this:

Main Street looking west from the east side of Broadway, probably between 1900-1905 – the building with the turret is the Masonic Temple located on the NW Corner of Main & Broadway which became American National Bank in 1902. The building South (left) of the Masonic Temple is the Bank of Commerce, built by 1901.

1905 Broadway looking North from Culbertson Bulding:

1906 Robinson looking North from Main or from Grand:

And, in 1907, the Levy Building (later to become the Mercantile Building) was built at the southeast corner of Main & Hudson. This nice image is from The Vanished Spendor (Vol I), written and assembled by Jim Edwards, Mitchell Oliphant (Abalache Book Shop Publishing Co, Okc, 1982):

Around and shortly after statehood, downtown Oklahoma City continued to zoom with construction. The Majestic Building was built between 1907-1910 (I don't know the exact year) at the NW corner of Main & Harvey, across the street (north) of Mellon's (which later became Rothschild's).

The Majestic Building's relative location is shown in the image below which looks south on Harvey, showing the Majestic in the right foreground. South of the Majestic are Mellon's and Goodholm Building, and, on the left, the Security Building. This image is from The Vanished Spendor (Vol II), written and assembled by Jim Edwards, Mitchell Oliphant (Abalache Book Shop Publishing Co, Okc, 1983).

The Pioneer Building built in 1908 at Built in 1908 at NW 3rd (now McGee) & Broadway. It is said to be the 1st downtown high-rise and the state's first "fireproof" building – the name derives from the Pioneer Telephone Company, later absorbed by Southwestern Bell – and it can be seen in the background of the Broadway pics following this one.

A couple of Broadway-looking-north show the Pioneer Building in the background.

Broadway looking north in 1908 (probably taken from the Culbertson Building)

Broadway looking north in 1909 during a parade

The Bass & Harbour Building was built in 1909-1910 on Broadway immediately south of where the Skirvin is today (i.e., where the Chase Tower presently stands).

The American National Bank, 140 W. Main, was built about the same time, construction beginning in 1909. It was located immediately north of the Baum Building.

At about the same time, the State National Building was built at 201 W. Main at the NW corner of Main & Robinson. In 1915, it would become the Hales Building, and was a victim of Urban Renewal in the 1970s.

The same building is seen during construction in the pic below which looks west on Main. The "dark" 5-story Lee Building (built in 1907) next to the State National still stands as today's Oil & Gas Building at the NE corner of Robinson & Main. The American National Building (grayish-white) is at the left side of the picture.

But, as Ron Popiel says, "But, wait! There's more" – this was a busy time for Oklahoma City!

The 1910 Patterson Building, 320 W. Main, is said to be the last home of Kerr's Department Store.

Also built in 1910 (razed in 1970), the Herskowitz Building became a downtown landmark at the NE corner of Grand & Broadway. The Kingkade Hotel, 19 W Grand, built in 1915, is at the far right.

This 1910 image looks east on Grand (now Sheridan) from the Colcord to the Herskowitz in the background, both under construction.

Immediately north of the Herskowitz on Broadway were the Wells Fargo, Campbell, and Huckins Annex buildings, shown below.

Further north on Broadway, the Hotel Threadgill was built in the early 1900s at 300 N. Broadway, 2 blocks north of where the Skirvin is today. It became the Bristol Hotel around 1910, plus or minus a year or two. Although the automobile images have been redrawn and the reference to the Skirvin Tower places THIS postcard in the 1930's, an otherwise identical "source" postcard is dated around 1913. Hence, I'm placing this postcard in the 1910 decade, with that understanding. The Bristol survived until the 1960s or 1970s.

And, of course, the magnificent Skirvin Hotel was "first" finished in 1911 ... shown below ...

Ahh... what a peaceful place ... NOT! Here's a 1911 pic looking north on Broadway of the very big streetcar worker's strike related to union recognition and which Oklahoma City invaded by ruffians. The strike lasted 2-3 months.

Moving west from Broadway, Robinson was also popping. This image shows the Colcord and the Baum under construction in 1910. On the Left: the Colcord Building in foreground, and State National Bank (later, Hales Building) is in background. On the Right: the Baum Building is in foreground, and American National Building is in background.

Much further north on Broadway, the "Oklahoma City High School" was built in 1910 between NW 7th & 8th Streets facing Robinson. Later, it became Central High School, and in 1984 it became One Bell Central, Southwestern Bell's Oklahoma headquarters, and, now, it is the headquarters of Oklahoma Farmers Mutual Insurance Company.

Further west, here's Harvey looking south around 1910 ...

... and Harvey looking south in 1912.

This image looks east on Main past Harvey (Mellon's) around 1910.

The 1911 Terminal Building at 311-317 W. Grand (between Harvey & Hudson) was the passenger & freight terminal for the local rail system.

So, there you have it – downtown Oklahoma City 100 years ago, plus or minus a few years on either side! Not too shabby for a town born only 16 years before statehood in 1907!


Jason said...

Thanks for this great post!

Doug Dawg said...

Thanks, Jason ... but I still yearn for an Oklaoma Sunrise of yours to use in "Oklahoma Rising"!!! Gimmie what I want!

JJ said...

Doug - This set of pictures is absolutely wonderful! Any evidence of what the outlying neighborhoods looked like at the time? - Nebraska