If asphalt could talk: Block 106, 2nd to 3rd, Boston to Cincinnati

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Moving west across Cincinnati Ave. from our previous installment, Block 107, we come to Block 106 of Tulsa's original townsite, 2nd to 3rd Street, Boston to Cincinnati Avenue. This block isn't asphalt, but it is radically different than it was as recently as 1970. Part of the Williams Center superblock complex, Boston Avenue was closed north of 3rd Street. The Williams Center Green replaced the street between 2nd and 3rd, along with part of the adjacent blocks. The rest of Block 106 is now occupied by the Performing Arts Center, designed by Minoru Yamasaki, architect of the nearby Bank of Oklahoma Tower and the World Trade Center. While the PAC has an attractive frontage on 3rd, it presents a blank wall along Cincinnati, and a small stage door entrance on 2nd. (How much better it would have been to adapt one of our glorious movie palaces as a performing arts center and to have left this block as it once was.)

Here's how the block was laid out in the late '50s and early '60s. As before, the image is from Sheet 21 of the Sanborn fire insurance map, last updated in 1962, with my notations in red indicating businesses that were listed in the 1957 Polk City Directory for Tulsa. Click on the thumbnail to pop-up the full 1900 by 1900 image.

Block 106, Tulsa Original Townsite, 2nd to 3rd Streets, Boston to Cincinnati Avenues

The 3rd Street frontage is dominated by the 10-story R. T. Daniel Building and the 13-story Hotel Tulsa; in between was a three-story building that was the original home of Saied Music Co. Note that both skyscrapers had multiple storefronts at street level.

By 1957, we're already beginning to see the erosion of downtown's urban fabric for parking. Between 1939 and 1957, a quarter of the block, and more than two-thirds of the frontage on 2nd Street has been reduced from two or three story buildings to asphalt, leaving the two remaining buildings on 2nd rather forlorn.

The population in 1960 was 21 (Census Tract 25, Census Block 57).

Now for some photos -- I will add more as I find them. There are so many photos of the Hotel Tulsa that I will put them in a separate entry at a later time, but here is a good shot of the Hotel Tulsa that shows some of the rest of the block:

(Photos from the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.)

Hotel Tulsa, looking to the northwest from 3rd & Cincinnati

Here's the north side of 3rd between Boston and Cincinnati, showing the R.T. Daniel Building in the foreground, the Hotel Tulsa in the background, and the building where Saied's was located in between:

Tulsa, north side of 3rd between Boston and Cincinnati, R.T. Daniel Building, Hotel Tulsa, Saied Music

More photos after the jump.

Here's a closeup of Borden's in the first floor of the Daniel Building:

Borden's, R.T. Daniel Building, 3rd & Boston, downtown Tulsa

This photo is of 2nd and Boston in 1895, not sure which direction:

2nd and Boston, downtown Tulsa, in 1895

2nd and Boston looking north, 1910 -- note the streetcar.

2nd and Boston, downtown Tulsa, looking north, 1910

Here's the Hotel Tulsa when it was just 10 stories tall and the streetcar lines still ran. This must have been taken between 1911, when the Hotel Tulsa was first built, and 1914, when the R. T. Daniel Building went up, as the Daniel building isn't there yet. The three-story building between the two towers is in this shot. (So is a horse.)

Hotel Tulsa, looking west from 3rd & Cincinnati

UPDATE 2008/06/10: Here's the Daniel Building's display ad from the 1957 Polk Directory:


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Mark said:

Here's the 1947 info for this block. I'm presenting only information that is different from your 1957 guide:

2nd Street --

102 - Miller Furniture Co.

106-1/2 - Waverly Hotel

108 - Peoples Coffee Shop

110-112 - Potter's Best O'Care Baby Chick Hatchery

114 - White Lunch

114-1/2 - Nebraska Bldg. (approx. 25 commercial tenants)

116-122 - Western Auto Supply

3rd Street --


105 - Daniel Bldg (approx. 80 commercial tenants)

105 - Herbert Gibson Agency

107 - Hughes Beauty Academy

109 - Davis Hardware

109-1/2 - Selective Service Boards


Boston --

211-213 - Alexander Parking Lot

215 - Star Barber & Beauty Shop

217 - Bond Marble & Tile

219 - Alexander Hotel

231 - Vacant

Cincinnatti --

214 - Hotel Tulsa Tailors

A couple of observations:

1. I always assumed that back in the good old days, haircutting/styling was segregated by sex; but I'm seeing a number of "Barber & Beauty" shops in these blocks!?!

2. A chick hatchery pinched between two restaurants?!?

3. In the circa 1911-14 photo of the Hotel Tulsa, the building looks to still be under construction. To my eye it looks vacant in the 9 visible floors; and there appears to be construction staging on the uppermost level.

4. I think this exercise would be more dramatic if you had a CURRENT photo or two of the block in question. Then we'd really understand what has been lost. As if you had nothing better to do, right?

Thanks again!

Thanks again, Mark. Interesting about that chick hatchery. The variety to be found in a traditional downtown seems strange when you've only known downtown as an odd sort of office park.

Your post reminds me that I was going to try to summarize the Daniel Bldg tenants. Ten floors and a huge amount of variety, but (surprisingly) a large number of railroad offices for RRs that, as far as I know, had no presence in Tulsa. I'll try to add something to this post about the Daniel Bldg's upper floors.

Now you mention it, it does appear that the hotel may still be under construction in that 1911-1914 photo.

Good point about shooting a "now" picture. What's there now is as different from 1957 as 1957 was from those 1895 and 1910 photos.

Patti Author Profile Page said:

What information have you discovered on the Hotel Tulsa? You mention that there are many photographs available, but I've only seen a few. My husband and I own and have restored a chandelier from the Hotel Tulsa, so are interested in learning more about the hotel. I've also been frustrated in trying to view the Beryl Ford photographs online due to the lack of organization.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 3, 2008 7:11 PM.

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