Oklahoma City adds Centennial landmark trio
After our snowy winter, the advent of Spring makes me look forward to vacation time. What could be more fitting in 2007 than traveling to our nearby state of Oklahoma to join in their Centennial Celebration?
On Nov. 16, 1907, Oklahoma Territory and the Indian Territory merged to create the state of Oklahoma, and on that date in 2007 Oklahoma will officially mark its 100th anniversary of statehood. All across the state, with unbelievable dedication, new landmarks are being created, historical sites are being restored, and special commemorations are in progress all year.
Although the entire state has been preparing for the event for years, Oklahoma City can boast of three major achievements that stand above all others, as a tribute to the state’s history and a legacy for generations to come. The Oklahoma History Center, a decade in the making, provides vivid depictions of outstanding historic milestones in the history of the state, as well as serving as the repository of records.
The larger-than-life bronze 1889 Land Run Monument will present a magnificent graphic representation of one phase of Oklahoma’s colorful settlement. However, the most unique and historic accomplishment may have been the completion of the 1917 State Capitol Building’s dome 85 years later.
Perhaps the Centennial Celebration fervor reflects the famous Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 which literally began with a bang. A gunshot at high noon on April 22, 1889, signaled the start of the first of five Oklahoma land runs. Between noon and night, thousands of claims were filed and Oklahoma City and Guthrie were born.
Guthrie, several miles north of Oklahoma City had been designated as the Oklahoma Territorial Capital, and served as the first state capital. However, by 1910 Oklahoma City’s population had surpassed 60,000 and many felt it should become the state’s capital. Guthrie led a spirited campaign to retain its role as the capital city of the state, but a statewide election and special session vote of the Oklahoma Legislature on December 16, 1910, officially declared Oklahoma City the permanent state capital.
The original design for the State Capitol Building called for a dome, but whether it was lack of funds and materials, the advent of World War I, or simply politics, Oklahoma’s house of government had remained without a dome for nearly 85 years. The Governor made the first dig at the groundbreaking ceremony on July 20, 1914. The cornerstone was tapped into place on Statehood Day 1915, and the building was completed in 1917 without a dome.
Starting in 1999, the State Capitol Complex and Oklahoma Centennial Commemoration Commission successfully carried out a fund-raising campaign and accomplished the task of building the magnificent dome. The long awaited dome, dedicated on Statehood Day, Nov. 16, 2002, is now adorned by a 17-foot Indian sculpture, “The Guardian.”
Today, the capitol building features free tours to view the beautiful restored architecture, historic murals, and art collections. Individual art works, both indoors and outside, signify specific state regions, notable events, and periods in Oklahoma history.
A decade in the making, the new Oklahoma History Center within view of the Capitol, provides more than 200 years of Oklahoma’s unique history and culture in one place. Five state-of-the-art galleries bring Oklahoma’s unique history to life, from its American Indian heritage to aviation and space artifacts.
Outdoor exhibits include oilfield exhibits and a walking tour along a symbolic Red River Valley. The Oklahoma Historical Society Offices, their Archives and Research area, plus the State Historic Preservation Office are also housed in the beautiful Center.
The installation of five sculptures along the banks of the Bricktown Canal in April 2003, marked the beginning of the 1889 Land Run Monument. The individual sculptures of the Monument are being constructed in Norman, Okla., and set up along the Bricktown Canal as they are finished. The completed monument will be approximately 365 feet long, making it one of the largest bronze sculptures in the world.
Many other Oklahoma activities and projects will also focus on the Oklahoma Centennial, but these three major accomplishments stand out as a testament to Oklahoma’s rich past and a symbol of what is certain to be a magnificent future.
You are encouraged to choose Oklahoma City for a visit in 2007 to help celebrate Oklahoma’s 100th birthday, just like the state’s citizens who voted back in 1910 for Oklahoma City as a permanent state capital.
For an exciting look at Oklahoma’s Centennial Celebration please visit http://www.oklahomacentennial. com.
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