Oklahoma City is located in central Oklahoma, and is its capital and its largest city. It covers over 607 sq.mi/ 1572 sq.km, and is the eighth largest city in the United States by land area. Approximately one-third of the land within city limits is urbanized, with the rest is suburban or rural in character.
The city's location has been key to its development and regional importance. Discovered in 1928, the Oklahoma City Field is one of the world's largest petroleum fields, and drill sites exist throughout the city. In addition, Oklahoma City is positioned on a principal transit route from Canada to Mexico, and is a three hour drive from the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas metropolitan area.
Oklahoma City layout
The city is divided roughly into quadrants. The east-west axis is Reno Avenue. The north-south axis is Shields Boulevard to the south, and Broadway Avenue to the north. City streets often include a quadrant designation that can be critical, as many streets are numbered. The Oklahoma City government offers an online address lookup service that allows users to determine whether an address exists in the city's central address database.
Legislatively, the city is divided into eight wards, each of which has representation in City Council. Ward boundaries are periodically adjusted to accommodate population shifts.
Oklahoma City was founded during the Land Rush of 1889, when unoccupied land in the United States was opened to homestead. The city's population grew to 10,000 within hours of its formation. Shortly after the state of Oklahoma was admitted to the United States in 1907, Oklahoma City was named the capital city.
The city prospered prior to World War II, becoming a major center of oil production and the home of several major stockyards. Post-war growth continued with the creation of the Interstate Highway System, as three large Interstates converged in Oklahoma City. It was also a major stop on Route 66, made famous in song and television.
The residents of Oklahoma City proved resilient in times of grave tragedy, when 168 people died in a domestic terrorist bombing attack at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in April, 1995.
The last half of the 20th century saw slower population growth, but Oklahoma City continues to be a vital commercial and cultural center of the United States.
Oklahoma City today
Thanks to investments in the 1990s known as MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects), Oklahoma City has become a thriving urban metropolis. The city has a low cost of living, one of the strongest metropolitan economies in the U.S. today, and one of its lowest employment rates. It has emerged as a leader in the energy, agriculture and manufacturing sectors, and is home to several companies in the Fortune 500.
Other claims to fame
The Oklahoma City area has had its share of notable residents, including actor and humorist Will Rogers, businessman Sam Walton, singers Garth Brooks and Wayne Coyne, and writers Ralph Ellison and Sarah Vowell.
Oklahoma City is also the location for the Gymnastics Hall of Fame, the National Softball Hall of Fame and the Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Oklahoma City is perhaps best known for its friendly residents. Newcomers are generally warmly welcomed, and should find living in Oklahoma City a pleasant experience.