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Tulsa is the Destination to Visit in 2021! Here’s Why.

Tulsa is one of the best destinations to visit (and call home) in the world

It has always been a beloved musical mecca, a culinary cornucopia and a steadily-rising focal point of the film community, but in recent years, Tulsa has made leaps and bounds towards also becoming a hub for discussions on race in the U.S. with the help of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission’s tireless efforts to create Greenwood Rising, a world-class museum coming to Tulsa in 2021.

With vaccines on the way for COVID-19 and Tulsa Safely’s efforts to guide your way through our city safely (when you’re ready), Greenwood Rising anchors a long list of reasons to live life on Tulsa time in 2021.

Read on to discover just a few of the special places that make Tulsa a destination to inspire your next trip.

Greenwood Rising (coming 2021)

Coming to Tulsa in 2021, the Greenwood Rising museum will serve as a new focal point of Tulsa’s history surrounding the Tulsa Race Massacre, turning up the volume on the long-propagated silence surrounding the event. A project led by the Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, Greenwood Rising will stand at the historic entrance to the Historic Greenwood District, introducing visitors by first making them aware of the vast cultural significance that the neighborhood holds. The installation will be integrated with the Pathway to Hope project, which will also connect Reconciliation Park to the rest of Greenwood.

The museum will take guests through several interactive exhibits designed to give visitors a contextualized understanding of Tulsa’s African American community. The exhibits will:

  • Take the visitor through the inception of the Historic Greenwood District.
  • Highlight the entrepreneurs that put Black Wall Street on the map.
  • Places visitors in a barbershop of the Greenwood neighborhood where they can hear oral histories of the people in the barbershop.
  • Lay out the timeline of racial violence in America that contextualizes how other national acts of violence led to the incendiary ones of the Tulsa Race Massacre. 
  • Immerse visitors with the accounts of survivors and their descendants of the massacre.
  • Detail the story of the resilient residents that played a role in resurrecting Greenwood from the ashes.
  • Detail the district’s eventual decline, from integration to urban removal and more.
  • Engage visitors with prompts that encourage dialogue while creating an acknowledgment of biases and understanding of others.

Visit https://www.tulsa2021.org/rising to learn more!

Gathering Place

Mentioned in TIME Magazine’s ‘World’s Greatest Places of 2019’ and simultaneously deemed USA Today’s ‘Best New Attraction’ in 2019, Gathering Place is an imaginative riverside park that beckons people of all backgrounds to explore it’s winding trails with a new surprise at every turn. 

From trails to gardens, playgrounds to boat ponds, skateparks to sports courts, cafes to restaurants and more, the vast amount of recreational opportunities at Gathering Place means everyone can join in on the fun. 

Plan ahead to visit this attraction in 2021, as it will take time to explore the over 100 acres of whim and awe alongside the beautiful Arkansas River. Learn more at https://www.gatheringplace.org/.

Art Deco at 320 South Boston (Downtown Tulsa)

As you walk through downtown Tulsa, it’s not uncommon to feel as if you’ve been written in as a character of one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s stories set in the lavish Jazz Age. 

Like larger cities such as New York or Chicago, Tulsa boasts an impressive collection of art deco architecture left behind by the oil titans whose extravagant monuments of wealth brought further recognition to Tulsa as the “oil capital of the world”. Now, cafes, meeting spaces and lodging fill these buildings as the old and new intertwine. 

One of the more significant art deco giants in Tulsa is the 320 S. Boston building located downtown. The building now serves as a versatile meeting space for professionals, but the 33-foot granite-cut arched entryway leading to a lobby adorned with murals displaying the artistry so definitive of the 1920s speaks to the preservation of the building. The tallest building in Tulsa for 40 years, the iconic 320 South Boston building is just one of the many art deco wonders you are bound to see while touring Tulsa in 2021.

John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park

Designated as a federal African American Civil Rights Network site and credited as the most important place in the nation to visit, John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park is a place that will flood you with a complex variety of emotions as you follow the turbulent history of African Americans in Tulsa.

Named after Franklin who played a pivotal role in advancing discussions around the often forgotten history of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the park was opened in 2010 to both memorialize the history of African Americans in Tulsa and to inspire hope for the mending of racial division. 

Ed Dwight, the first Black astronaut in the U.S. and renowned Denver artist, created the two monuments you’ll find within the park. The first of which is the 35-foot tall Tower of Reconciliation, which depicts the history of black people in Oklahoma from their African origins to modern times. The second monument, Hope Plaza, is a granite structure that depicts three different scenes from the Tulsa Race Massacre.

You can find out more about this impactful monument by visiting https://www.jhfcenter.org/reconciliation-park.

“East Meets West” Statue on Route 66

Of all the sights along the Mother Road, there’s none more intriguing or poetic than the “East Meets West” statues located at Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza.

Cyrus Avery, an honorary Tulsan, advocated for Route 66 and successfully lobbied the interstate highway’s path with Tulsa in mind. His efforts not only earned him his lasting legacy as the “Father of Route 66” but also his cemented likeness in the “East Meets West” statues to commemorate his impact on making Tulsa the city it is today.

While the scene depicted in the plaza does not actually mark the halfway point along the Mother Road, it is an intriguing and poetic symbolization of the rapid development of America during the 1920s-1930s. The statues that span 40 feet and weigh around 10 tons feature the “East”: Cyrus Avery and his family in an automobile, nearly colliding with the “West”: a man atop a horse-drawn carriage. And while we are luckily spared any graphic imagery of the collision, it’s safe to say that the ratio of horse-drawn carriages to cars in Tulsa indicates that the East’s progress was the catalyst of a more modern America.

Philbrook Museum of Art

A particularly stunning marvel of Tulsa history, Philbrook Museum of Art originated as the actual home of a prominent Tulsa oilman by the name of Waite Phillips. 

Built in 1927, the Neo-Italian Renaissance was officially gifted to Tulsa in 1939 and has served the public ever since. The nationally recognized museum draws over 160,000 visitors annually for several reasons. For some, the picturesque gardens surrounding the villa are just as magnetic as what’s to be found on the inside. 

If you can manage to peel your eyes from the enchanting gardens, then you’ll find the endless intrigue within the museum’s walls where you can see a diverse collection of art spanning European, American, Native American, Contemporary, African, Asian and Antiquity styles. As part of their robust exhibition and event programming, the museum has even seen work from the likes of Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Clyfford Still, Georgia O’Keeffe and Andy Warhol come through.

To find out the latest news on Philbrook Museum of Art, you can visit https://philbrook.org/.

As we leave 2020 behind us, keep up with all of the vibrant sights, sounds, tastes and more that our city has to offer to inspire your trip to Tulsa in 2021, when you’re ready of course.

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©2020 Tulsa Regional Tourism

©2020 Tulsa Regional Tourism