After World War II ended, the temporary moratorium on domestic housing construction was lifted. As the soldiers returned home, new housing was in great demand. The government VA loans helped to increase housing production which led to the growth of suburban areas and the move out of the inner city. Congress responded with the Housing Act of 1949 which authorized funds to localities to assist in slum clearance and emphasized new construction.
Tulsa was the first large city in Oklahoma to form an urban renewal authority in July, 1959. After the first Oklahoma project - Seminole Hills - was completed in 1968, Tulsa initiated a downtown urban renewal program, declaring the heart of the city "blighted". Use of condemnation by eminent domain allowed the city to acquire 9 city blocks and clear dozens of properties to make way for a new office complex anchored by the Williams Center. In the past the wrecking ball had been fairly selective in which buildings were taken down and why. Now the city's heart, where it all started, was reduced to rubble, clearing the way for what was hoped to be a revitalized downtown.
Lost in this was The Grand Opera House, the Lynch building which was Tulsa's oldest standing building and Tulsa's first bank. The Commercial Building was once a city pride, back in the early oil days, as were the Brady and Tulsa Hotels. Granted, these buildings were all sagging and weathered. If they weren't abandoned, they were used as Pawn or Loan shops. They were eyesores, to be sure. And at this time, in the late 1960's and early 1970's, what was being done was in the name of Progress.
Here is some of what we lost:
This is the SW corner of 1st and Main 1969.
AAA Trading Post was originally the Lynch Store,
Tulsa's first masonry building. The building next to it
was where Tulsa's first bank was:
This was the Hall Store that he built in 1909.
And this was the Archer Building, also on Main.
The Grand Opera House opened in 1906 and was where the elite gathered.
In it's last years it was used as an auction house.
On Boston you can see the Browning Hotel, Uncle Willie's Donuts, Harrington's, Reeder Cafe, and the Bliss Hotel.
This was the Bliss Hotel under construction in 1929 at 2nd and Boston:
The last years of the Bliss were spent as a home to low-income elderly,
most of whose homes had been bulldozed by urban renewal.
The building came down in Feb 1973:
The Hunt Building, home to Brown-Dunkin sat at 4th and Main:
It was torn down in 1970 to make way for
First National Bank's expanding complex:
The Medical Arts Building sat at 6th and Boulder.
It was impractical to heat and cool and
was imploded in July 1970:
When the old Lynch Building came down there wasn't even a crowd-pleasing implosion. The building housed one of Tulsa's first movie theaters, The Lyric. As the 2-foot thick walls of hand-cut stone crumbled down, one could see a bit of the balcony and decorative fake windows.
The Hotel Tulsa sat at 3rd and Cincinnati. It came down in 1972:
The Hotel Brady 24 N. Main sat empty for 30 years.
It finally came down in 1970.
This photo was taken in 1973 during the transition.
While Tulsa's pioneer district was gone, there would soon be the
Williams Center and the Performing Arts Center:
(click on photo to enlarge)
By 1978 the BOK Tower had altered the Tulsa skyline:
Smaller towns refused urban renewal which is why many of their historic areas are still standing.
Sources: digital.library.okstate.edu, The Tulsa World