Commissioner swearing in; Fairgrounds in and out of the City

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Our new County Commissioners, John Smaligo and Fred Perry, will be sworn in this morning at 9:30 at the Tulsa County Courthouse, in Room 119 of the Administration Building at 6th & Denver. It's a good time to show your support and appreciation for a change in direction for County government and an end to the empire-building that characterized the commissioners that are leaving office.

My Urban Tulsa Weekly column, out today, is a salute, of sorts, to outgoing Commissioners Bob Dick and Wilbert Collins, a look at their legacy and at the kind of changes we hope the new commissioners will make.

One issue that the new County Commissioners will face, although the decision is ultimately out of their hands (the City can act unilaterally, under state law), is the possibility of the City annexing the Tulsa County Fairgrounds, aka Expo Square.

Contrary to some statements that this land has ever been unincorporated territory, subject only to the jurisdiction of Tulsa County, in looking back at old maps as part of some other research, I've found confirmation of the fact that large parts of the Fairgrounds have been within the city limits of Tulsa at various times in the past.

The overview map for the 1932 Sanborn Fire Map of Tulsa (I can't link to it directly, but if you're a Tulsa Library card holder, you can access it over the Internet) shows the western two-thirds (160 acres more or less) of the Fairgrounds within the City of Tulsa. That area included all the developed parts of the fairgrounds, including the International Petroleum Exposition grounds (where the Expo building is now), the Pavilion, cattle barns, and other buildings.

(UPDATE: This link will take you right to the map, zoomed in to the Fairgrounds and its surroundings. If you're not already logged in to the library website, you'll first be taken to a screen to type in your last name and Tulsa Library card number. You can use the arrow icons to pan around to other parts of the map, including the bottom where you'll see the date of the map. And here's a link to a PDF version of the same map. Sheet 317, showing the detail of the fairgrounds, is here. Keep in mind that the racetrack and grandstand shown on the map was just east of where the half-demolished Exchange Building now is, an area which is now a parking lot for Fair Meadows.)

Then there was an article in the January 16, 1960, Tulsa Tribune, about the changes in the city limits over the previous decade. (You can find it in the annexation vertical file at Central Library, and it's also reproduced in a City Council report on annexation from a couple of years ago.) The map accompanying the story shows an area apparently west of New Haven Ave from 17th Street to 21st and west of Pittsburgh (the mid-section line) between 15th & 17th Street as within the City of Tulsa in 1950, but out of the city in 1960, except for a very small tract around the city water tower at 21st and Louisville. This would have been about 60 acres of land. The story says:

A section of the Tulsa County Fairgrounds (located at Yale Ave. and 21st St.) is the only area which was disannexed from the 1950 limits.

Owned by the county, the fairgrounds usually is not considered for annexation to the city, but special problems have caused it to come and go from the city limits.

Annexed to permit construction of Veterans' Village following the war, it was removed from the city after the buildings in the Village were removed.

City Engineer W. R. Wooten recalled the same area was taken in and then thrown out again some years earlier when horse racing was a debatable activity there.

"The city wouldn't permit the betting," Wooten recalls, "so the area was disannexed. Horse racing finally was ended by calling out of the National Guard."

The story doesn't say when the disannexation occurred, but a 1957 Rand McNally map shows the section I described above as still within the city limits.

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1 Comments

Paul Tay said:

The perfect dedicated revenue stream to fund 2,000 TPD bike cops. Merry Christmas, FOP93!

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 3, 2007 12:47 AM.

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