Roots: at the river's edge
The Oklahoma Land Rush: Settlers at the River
Between high noon and nightfall, Oklahoma City was born in one helter-skelter spectacle of a race. A Land Run sent settlers bounding across the open prairie to claim a plot of land and a new life. By midnight, a tent city of 10,000 flickered under the stars.
It was April 22, 1889: The Land Run of ’89 into the Unassigned Lands of Oklahoma Territory made history. Destiny had arrived at a bend in the North Canadian River.
The New York Times sent a reporter to witness the Land Run of ’89, billed as the “biggest race ever run in the United States.” The reporter wrote a remarkable first-person account of the wild and wooly surge as staged from Purcell. The town lies 36 miles south of what became – later that day – OKC.
Water as a Magnet: OKC's Coney Island
Little more than a decade after the Land Run, a grand entertainment complex had blossomed beside the river. It reflected a trend inspired by Coney Island, the famous resort/amusement park in Brooklyn (and before that, European parks dating back centuries). Evolving were ever-more-ambitious rides, starting with the ferris wheel, “circular swings” and the wooden coaster. And OKC would soon have all three.
Up-and-coming cities had begun building waterside amusement parks of their own, right down to the boardwalks. By 1900, Delmar Gardens graced the riverfront in a decade-old Oklahoma City, with every amenity of the day.
Read the full story on VeloCityOKC.com.