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Myriad Gardens: A History

Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 12:00:00 am

There is no better place to grab a slice of paradise in downtown Oklahoma City than the Myriad Botanical Gardens, which happens to celebrate its 26th anniversary on March 25. Here are a few facts that you may not know about one of Oklahoma City’s most popular green spaces:

  • This jewel of OKC was born as part of a downtown urban renewal project called the Pei Plan dreamed up by city leaders and legendary architect I.M. Pei in the late 60s.
  • Dean A. McGee, an oil pioneer and founder and CEO of Kerr-McGee Oil Corporation, was a huge proponent of building this centrally-located garden.
  • It was named after “the Myriad”, or what is now known as the Cox Convention Center.
  • Initial design of Myriad Gardens was based on Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens and city leaders even made a trip to Denmark to study its design.
  • A nation-wide search was made for the architects that would design the Myriad Gardens. In 1971, the New York architectural firm Conklin + Rossant was chosen.
  • City leaders and members of the Myriad Gardens Authority broke ground on the 17-acre plot for the garden on Nov. 17, 1977. The area was constructed as money was available.
  • In 1981, leaders formed the Myriad Gardens Foundation in order to raise private funds for the construction of the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory.
  • The Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory was constructed from 1983-1985, but it did not open to the public until March 25, 1988.
  • Myriad Gardens and its Crystal Bridge received a facelift thanks to funds from Project 180. In addition to new landscaping, the park also received a new children’s garden, a new restaurant space, and reglazed acrylic panels on the Crystal Bridge.  

Check out the original landscaping and construction of Myriad Gardens, plus some insight on downtown OKC “before downtown was cool” in this retro-fabulous edition of the Mayor’s Magazine.

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