Downtown OKC 1920 – 1929

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1920s.birdseye.jpgBird’s Eye View
1926.elks.jpgElks Lodge
1928.oge.jpgOG&E
1928.harbour-longmire.jpgHarb. Longmire
1920.halliburton.jpgHalliburton's
1920.hightowerlobby.jpgHightower
1928.cottonexchange.jpgCotton Exchange
1923.braniff.jpgBraniff Building
1920s.oksavings.jpgOklahoma S&L
1920s.petroleum.jpgPetroleum
1920s.perrine.jpgPerrine Building
1920s.commerce.jpgCommerce Exch.
1920s.criterion.jpgCriterion
1921.orpheum.jpgOrpheum
1920s.swbell.jpgSW Bell
1920s.skirvin.jpgSkirvin Hotel
1920s.medical.jpgMedical Arts
1920s.broadway.jpgBroadway
1920.tradesmens.jpgTradesmen's
1927.wellsroberts.jpgWells-Roberts
1925.underground.jpgChinatown

BIRDS EYE FROM SANTA FE DEPOT

Taken from the old Santa Fe depot, looking Northwest.
1920s.birdseye.jpg
For a clearer and similar view which identifies a few buildings,  click here.


ELKS & OG&E

Left: The Elks Club was built in 1926 at 401 N. Harvey and is now the ONG Building.
Right: The OG&E Building opened in 1928 at 321 N Harvey. It would be expanded in 1958.


1926.elks.jpg1928.oge.jpg

HARBOUR-LONGMIRE FURNITURE COMPANY

Under construction in 1925 or 1928 at 420 W. Main. Today, it is primarily used today by the City of Oklahoma City. For a contemporary view of the building, click here.

1928.harbour-longmire.jpg

HALLIBURTON'S DEPARTMENT STORE

Built in 1920 at 327 West Main, it was a leading Oklahoma City department store until 1960. The image below shows the building in 1920 looking East on Main, before the Hightower Building was built later that year. The postcard is seen in The Vanished Spendor (Vol III), written and assembled by Jim Edwards, Mitchell Oliphant and Hal Ottaway (Abalache Book Shop Publishing Co, Okc, 1985).

1920.halliburton.jpg

HIGHTOWER

The first image is a comtemporary view of the Lobby of the Hightower Building built in 1920 at 105 N. Hudson, and the second image shows the relative locations of Halliburton's & Hightower looking west on Main in the 1930s or 40s. The Hightower Building, built in 1920, has been continuously owned in the same family since its construction.


1920.hightowerlobby.jpg1930s.main&hudson2.jpg

COTTON EXCHANGE BUILDING

The building is under construction in 1928 at 218 N Harvey.

It was later named the Leonhardt Building and is now the Court Plaza Building.

For a contemporary view of the building, click here.

1928.cottonexchange.jpg

BRANIFF BUILDING

Constructed in 1923 at 324 N. Robinson, it is now part of the Kerr-McGee campus. The 1st image was taken from the BOK Plaza looking Northeasterly to McGee (formerly NW 3rd Street). The 2nd image is in Vanished Spendor (Vol II), written and assembled by Jim Edwards and Mitchell Oliphant (Abalache Book Shop Publishing Co, Okc, 1983). It was the headquarters of Braniff Airlines for a time. For an interesting review of Paul R. Braniff and the Oklahoma City roots of Braniff Airlines, click here.


1923.braniff.jpg1923.braniff2.jpg

OKLAHOMA SAVINGS & LOAN

Constructed in 1928 at 306 N. Robinson (immediately South of the Braniff Building), it is now part of the Kerr-McGee campus.

This pic was taken along NW 2nd (now Kerr) looking Northeasterly. The South edge of the Braniff Building appears at the far left.

1928.oksavings.jpg

PETROLEUM & PERINNE

Left: The Petroleum Building was built in 1926 (now the Dowell Bulding, 134 Robert S. Kerr). For a current pic, click here. Right: The Perrine Building (later Cravens and now Robinson Renaissance, 119 N. Robinson) opened in 1927. Anna Maude Cafeteria was once a venerable tenant (in the basement) where, in the early 1960s, civil rights sit-ins ocurred. For a current pic, click here.


1920s.petroleum.jpg1920s.perrine.jpg

COMMERCE EXCHANGE BUILDING

It was built in the mid-to-late 1920s at the Southeast corner of Grande (now Sheridan) and Robinson, South of the Baum Building. The older image at the left doesn't show as much detail as the 1950s image at the right.


1920s.commerce.jpg1920s.commerce2.jpg

CRITERION THEATER

The magnificent Criterion Theater was built in 1921 at 118 W. Main and seated 1,650. It was destroyed in 1973.

This is one of several downtown cinemas which were destroyed in the 1970's urban renewal. Other noble cinemas destroyed were the State, the Midwest, and the Cooper Cinerama theaters.

1920s.criterion.jpg

ORPHEUM THEATRE

New owners acquired the Overholser Opera House (built in 1903 at 217 W. Grand) in 1917, and, after remodeling, it reopened in 1921 as the Orpheum Theater, seating 1,040. It was destroyed in the mid-1960s. The first image shows its location (at the right) relative to the 1910 Colcord. The second image looks Northwest from the South side of Grand. The bottom image is from The Vanished Spendor (Vol II), written and assembled by Jim Edwards, Mitchell Oliphant (Abalache Book Shop Publishing Co, Okc, 1983).


1910s.overholser.jpg1921.orpheum.jpg

SOUTHWESTERN BELL

After acquisition of Pioneer Phone, Southwestern Bell added to the Pioneer Building North of 3rd Street (now McGee), on Broadway. For a current pic, click here.


1920s.swbell.jpg

SKIRVIN EXPANSION

At NE corner of Park Avenue & Broadway.

This expansion would add 3 stories and a 3rd wing began in late 1920s.

See Bob Blackburn's excellent article.

Also, see the Skirvin Collection and the "current" Skirvin.

1920s.skirvin.jpg

MEDICAL ARTS BUILDING

Built in 1925 at 100 W. 1st (Park Avenue), it is now the 100 Park Avenue Building. The 1st image is a 1925 photo. The Egbert Hotel (originally Bassett Building built in 1905) is South of the building. Further South is the 1890 Post Office. North is the 5 story (darker) Wright Building (the 1902 India Temple) and further North Southwestern Bell (light) buildings are in the farground. At right, edges of the Skirvin and Insurance Buildings are seen. The 2nd image is a postcard from The Vanished Spendor (Vol I), written and assembled by Jim Edwards and Mitchell Oliphant (Abalache Book Shop Publishing Co, Okc, 1982).


1920s.medical.jpg1925.medicalarts.jpg

NORTH ON BROADWAY

Looking North from Grand (Sheridan), the following are visible:

Left: Tradesmen's National Bank, built in 1921 (white; later City National Bank, now BankFirst; see next picture). An edge of the Medical Arts Building is immediately to the North.
1920s.broadway.jpg
Right: Skirvin (red edge); Insurance Building (white); Huckins Hotel (goldish brown) & Annex (red); Campbell Building (white);Wells Fargo (red); closest, Herskowitz Building.


TRADESMEN'S BANK

This shows 2 views of the Tradesmen's Bank, 101 W. Main, built in 1921. The building occupies the same space as the 1893 Masonic Temple (later to become Western National Bank) - the buiding with the turret.This building was renamed City National Bank in the late 1940s and, now, is the City Center Building, having BankFirst as its principal tenant.

1920.tradesmens.jpg

This picture is cropped from the above, and the right picture is a separate postcard.

1920.tradesmens2.jpg

WELLS-ROBERTS HOTEL

The Wells Roberts Hotel was built in 1927 and was destroyed in 1973. It was located on North Broadway across the street from the Huckins. The second image shows the hotel in 1954 looking North on Broadway.

1927.wellsroberts.jpg1954.wellsroberts.jpg

UNDERGROUND CHINATOWN

An underground Chinatown once existed in the vicinity of Main & Broadway but the extent of which is unknown (as far as I'm aware). Artifacts were discovered when excavation occurred for the Myriad Convention Center South of Sheridan (Grand).

According to Images of America: Oklahoma City, Statehood to 1930, by Terry L. Griffith, p. 119:
1925.underground.jpg
"The Underground, c. 1925. This view of the Bassett Block at Main and Broadway shows the entrance to the underground Chinatown. Bill Skirvin would sit in his hotel lobby and watch the Chinese residents enter the alleys behind the Bassett Building and walk down the steps leading to their very private world."

For more, see this fascinating article on the Chinese Underground and Oklahoma City resident Willie Hong written by Larry Johnson at the Okc Metropolitan Library System. (Once there, you may need to click your refresh button for the target page to load.)


Also, Xiaobing Li, professor of history and associate director of the Western Pacific Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma, and who served in the People's Liberation Army in China, has written on the topic. He presented his paper, Buried Memories: Underground Chinatown in Oklahoma City,1900-1920, at the 2004 Annual Conference of the Western History Association and another, Chinese Immigrants' Experience in Oklahoma City, 1900-20, at the 2003 meeting of the American Historical Association. According to the Newsletter of Chinese Historians in the United States, Inc. (Spring 2003):

"LI Xiaobing (University of Central Oklahoma)'s study of the Chinese experience in Oklahoma and Ling Z. ARENSON (DePaul University)'s study on the Chinese communities in Chicago constitute departures from the much studied major Chinese settlements on the East and West Coasts. LI Xiaobing discusses the "underground Chinatown" in Oklahoma City. This Chinese community, discovered in 1969, was under five Chinese business shops in the downtown area. It was said to be about a mile long, covering two blocks. About 100 to 150 Chinese lived in the basements in this underground Chinese community between 1900 and 1930. By discussing this little known Chinese experience in Oklahoma, Li has argued that although the labor shortage, coupled with a lower level of prejudice and racial discrimination in Oklahoma, especially in the Indian Territory, drew a small number of Chinese from the West Coast as early as the 1880s, this Oklahoma advantage had its limitations. As early as 1890s, constrained by the limited possibility of economic advancement in the Indian Territory, more and more Chinese moved to Oklahoma City, where they lived in basements under Chinese stores and engaged in service occupations, primarily hand laundries and restaurants, as did their counterparts elsewhere. Some of them were believed to have died and were buried there, near where they had lived. Both metaphorically and factually, this underground world was powerful evidence of the wide spread hostility against Chinese during the Exclusion era. Li's study has surely added a new regional and spatial dimension to our understanding of the drudgery and hardship Chinese immigrants had to undergo during the Exclusion era (1882-1943)."

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