When it comes to Myriad Botanical Gardens, 30 has never looked so good. Thirty years ago this month, the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory at Myriad Botanical Gardens opened to the public and, since that time, Myriad Botanical Gardens has served as the heart of downtown Oklahoma City and a breath of fresh air for all Oklahoma City residents.
The history of the gardens starts much earlier, however. This jewel of Oklahoma City was born during the downtown urban renewal project of the late 60s. Myriad Gardens was part of I.M. Pei’s plan for downtown Oklahoma City’s revitalization, and it’s one of the only parts of his plan to be fully realized. In order to win public support for the idea of a centrally located garden, city leaders made a trip to Denmark to study the Tivoli Gardens for design inspiration. A nation-wide search was made for the architects that would design the Myriad Gardens, which was named after “the Myriad,” the building now known as the Cox Convention Center. In 1971, the New York architectural firm Conklin + Rossant was chosen, and city leaders broke ground on the 17-acre plot for the garden on Nov. 17, 1977.
Unfortunately, construction was delayed as the oil bust of the 1970s and ‘80s diminished the project’s funding, so the area was constructed as money was available. In 1981, leaders formed the Myriad Gardens Foundation to raise private funds for the construction of the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory. Construction resumed from 1983-1985 and the building finally opened to the public on March 25, 1988.
More recently, Myriad Gardens and its Crystal Bridge received a facelift thanks to funds from the construction of Devon Tower and Project 180. This $176-million redesign of downtown streets, sidewalks, parks and plazas included new landscaping, a new children’s garden, a new restaurant space, and reglazed acrylic panels on the Crystal Bridge. Today, Myriad Gardens is stronger than ever and spring is the perfect time to explore all that it has to offer. Check it out for yourself by attending one of their upcoming events or classes.