The land now known as Oklahoma City was once home to many Native American tribes. The western and eastern sections of the area were primarily occupied by the Wichita and Caddo Indians while a central section was home to the Osage Nation. Although these three distinct groups may have had some contact in present-day Oklahoma City, they mostly kept to themselves with no major conflict occurring between them.
In 1832, Mexico moved American Indians from Texas to what would become Oklahoma City. After a short period of time, however, they were forced out by white settlers wanting their lands. When Mexico ceded this territory back to Spain in 1821 after winning its independence from Spain, American settlers began trickling into the region in increasing numbers during the 1830s and 40s. By the 1840s, the U.S. government began relocating American Indians to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) as settlement moved across the Red River northward from Texas into Indian Territory .
In 1851, white settlers established a town named “Columbus” on the south bank of North Canadian River with approximately 25 residents. This town would later become known as Oklahoma City. The town flourished for several years until the outbreak of Civil War in 1861 caused an exodus of businesses and residents out of fear that southern sympathizers would gain control over it or because men had gone off to fight in the war. With its prominence declining after such a large loss, Columbus was officially platted its current name, Oklahoma City , in 1889 with a revised plat filed in 1890.
Oklahoma City continued growing slowly until the opening of the Santa Fe Railroad through Guthrie, Oklahoma (a town located roughly 15 miles northwest of Oklahoma City) in 1887. The rail line provided new opportunities for economic growth and development and led to an explosion of population growth as farmers no longer had to rely on animals or wagons to transport their goods across long distances. At this time, Oklahoma was still Indian Territory and not yet a state but would soon be recognized as such under its territorial government established by Congress.
1889 brought about several changes for Oklahoma City including being assigned a US Post Office, designation as capital of the newly formed Oklahoma Territory , and becoming home to its first newspaper, The Oklahoma City Capital .
All of this combined with the fact that there were only 4,192 residents at this time and 600 businesses left a lot of open land for construction. With its relatively low population and abundance of new housing options, a number of immigrants from Europe and other parts of the U.S. began moving in which led to even more growth throughout the 1890s as well as into the early 20th century.
To keep up with this growth, local architects would create new building designs made from combinations of materials including bricks, stone, and wood as exemplified by some older buildings in Downtown Oklahoma City such as the Skirvin Hilton Hotel (built in 1911), Biltmore Hotel (built in 1913), or Colcord Hotel (built in 1922).
The oil industry had a profound effect on the city during this time as well. In 1889, the first of several oil wells were drilled around Oklahoma City which caused an oil boom that brought further growth and additional opportunities for advancement to the area. During this period, many new buildings erected within Downtown Oklahoma City included large steel I-beams capable of supporting higher structures than wooden poles could. In fact, some older skyscrapers built from 1907 until 1917 still stand today such as Arbuckle Place (built in 1910), Skirvin Tower (built in 1911), and Biltmore Apartments (built in 1913).
On April 22, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed by domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh killing 168 people including 19 children and injuring more than 680 others in the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil at that time . The site where this building once stood is now known as the Oklahoma City National Memorial , a tribute to those who perished in such tragedy and also a reminder of our ability to rebuild and recover from adversity.
The Oklahoma City skyline has continued to evolve as new buildings are erected and older ones are renovated or demolished. Many historic buildings have been converted into high-end hotel accommodations, lofts, office spaces, restaurants, bars, and retail locations such as the Skirvin Hilton Hotel , First National Center , Criterion Building (which was originally built in 1920), Colcord Hotel , Biltmore Hotel , and many more.