Calling On The Capital: A Weekday Getaway to Oklahoma City Oklahoma


Dear Henry,

I've just gotten back from a quick road trip to Oklahoma City, and the question I seem to be most asked is, "Why would you want to go there?" And while I understand the question (Oklahoma, as a whole, is an underrated gem), I assure you there are plenty of reasons to stop in Oklahoma City.

On April 22, 1889, Oklahoma City was founded when the "Unassigned Lands of Indian Territory"  were opened for homesteading to people of non-Native American descent. Naturally, there was a mad rush for this land, and, within a few hours of the gun start at noon, 10,000 people converged on the area to stake their claim. The movie "Far and Away" portrayed a different land rush, but the movie dramatized a land rush well. 

Because of an early infrastructure build-up, including rail lines, Oklahoma City could support large stockyards and granaries. When oil was discovered in 1928, the city was able to really boom. 

The Great Depression and the Dustbowl did a number on Oklahoma City's economics. Not only did the drought wipe out the crops and strain ranching resources, but the demand for all goods, including oil, fell dramatically, and Oklahoma City was hit hard. The city would have a large  "Hooverville" alongside the North Canadian River and several active Civilian Conservation Camps until the influx of airmen to Tinker AFB during WWII boosted the economy. After that, the city would thrive until the oil began to dry, and the "stagflation" of the 1970s and 1980s decimated the town.

Oklahoma City's urban renewal began in 1992 when Mayor Ron Norick gained the support and resources to fund a large-scale urban renewal program. It was during this time that the Bricktown canals were built. But unfortunately, it was also the time of the Oklahoma City Bombing, which killed at least 168 people and injured almost 700 more. The bombing is still considered the worst act of domestic terrorism to have occurred in the US.

Many celebrities call Oklahoma City their home, including the prima ballerina Yvonne Choteau and the actor/writer/director/producer Ron Howard. The entire lineup of the Flaming Lips comes from the Oklahoma City area, as does the author Ralph Ellison. But, of course, my favorite native is Gayla Peevy (the singer of "I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas). Oklahoma City is also where the first parking meter was invented.

This is my second visit to Oklahoma City and the first time I got to sightsee. I stayed at the historic Skirvin Hotel, a beautifully appointed, art deco hotel built by William Baised "Bill" Skirvin, an Oklahoma oil and real estate tycoon. The hotel, which opened in 1911, fell into decline with the city and closed in 1988. It was part of the city's urban renewal projects, and the city partnered with the Hilton Corporation for its restoration in 2007. The hotel was restored with historical accuracy and reopened. Like any historic hotel, the Skirvin has a ghost. The hotel is supposed to be haunted by the spirit of a former maid, who, jilted by Mr. Skirvin, lept from one of the widows with her infant child. There is zero proof of the maid story, but there have been paranormal oddness in the hotel, and apparently, the ghost hates basketball. The Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, and the Baylor Lady Bears all suffered game losses due to fatigue after staying in the hotel. 

I didn't see any ghosts (perhaps because I don't play basketball), but I highly recommend the hotel's Breakfast Cobb.

While I went to Oklahoma City to specifically see The Memorial, I also wanted to see Old St. Joseph's Cathedral and stop by the Oklahoma City Museum of Art to see the Chulily exhibit. I was pleasantly surprised to find the American Banjo Museum off Bricktown, a museum that was the highlight of my day and worth its own post (coming soon). Unfortunately, I ran out of time and missed the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and the Flaming Lips Compound. I also just remembered that I had to look for the parking meter, although I had a wonderful time wandering downtown the botanical garden.

I will need to plan another trip. 


a.d. elliott

*Check out my video tour of Oklahoma City here:


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

In addition to the travel writings at, you can also read her book reviews at and US military biographies at

Her online photography gallery can be found at


Like my page? Please consider supporting my work by visiting my sponsors, my webshop, or by buying me a cup of coffee!