Oklahoma City is an old city, but it has been built up in recent years and changed significantly since the 1980s. Today, there are markers, monuments, statues and other landmarks scattered throughout the city that you may not have noticed before. Here are some of those markers:
OU Bison on Campus Corner – This statue was erected to commemorate OU’s victory over the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) at the 2008 College National Finals Rodeo held in Oklahoma City on June 5-9, 2008. The crowned bison stands atop a pillar than can be seen from I-35. The location of the statue is just west of the corner of I-35 and Jenkins Ave, facing south.
Cultivating Oklahoma’s Youth – This statue is located in a garden near the football stadium at OU. It depicts an older man teaching a young boy about the growing process.
Eli and Annie Oklahoma Memorial – This memorial is located in downtown Jones park on Main St. It commemorates Eli and Annie Oklahoma who served as city founders and leaders during what was then known as Indian Territory (Oklahoma). The story goes that they arrived here by wagon train from Missouri in April 1879 intending to open a new farmstead when they were overcome by cholera. They are buried nearby but no one knows exactly where. A much larger memorial/statue depicting the couple can be found further south on the east side of N. May Ave along S. Harvey Ave (east of NW 30th St.).
Echoing Green – This is a large circular brick area located at the intersection of Reno and Hudson in Bricktown immediately west of Lyric Theater. The circle has an outer ring of smaller circles, each containing a name etched into its center. Carved in the middle is also an owl with headphones on listening to music. On Friday and Saturday evenings as well as Sunday afternoons you’ll find local musicians performing here for small change tossed into their instrument case or open guitar case at their feet.
The Great Seal – On April 22, 2010 Governor Brad Henry signed Senate Bill No 1111 that creates a commission to design an official state seal for the State of Oklahoma. That new official state seal will not replace the original (1889) Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma, however, which is prominently displayed on public buildings and educational institutions throughout the state. The original Great Seal (above) has remained essentially unchanged with the exception of a small figure riding a tractor “agriculture” that was added in 1972. The seal also features symbols and elements important to America’s original populist democracy including the American Bison representing animal life; an American Indian warrior holding an arrow representing national defense; a pioneer farmer plowing his field representing agriculture; and mountains, lakes, trees, timber and water all representative of Oklahoma itself.
Stained Glass at the State Capitol – The stained glass art work inside Oklahoma’s state capitol building is beautiful! There are 63 windows depicting famous people or events from Oklahoman history throughout its three floors and four wings. Upon entering the north wing you will find windows on your left depicting images from Oklahoma’s first territorial days and the American Indian period. This is also where you will find the beautiful two story high white marble rotunda in which you can view the four wings that extend up each side of the building an additional three stories. The original 10 stained glass windows are said to be modeled after images from Frank Mechau, a famous painter during this time period in America. Mechau was born in 1865 and had been commissioned by Governor Willis Murray to paint scenes from Oklahoman history for display throughout the capitol building. Unfortunately these paintings no longer exist but their memory lives on through these stained glass art works.
Oklahoma’s First National Monument – Located just west of highway I-35 on NW 26th St. are the ruins of St. Joseph’s Italian Catholic Church, a national memorial and historical site built by African American brick masons in 1905-06 in what was then Oklahoma Territory. The church was located at one of the many “sundown towns” where African Americans were not allowed to live after dark (and could even be killed if caught inside). After St. Joseph’s congregation died out following World War II the church fell into disrepair and was eventually destroyed by fire in 1977 only leaving its stone walls remaining today as it marks Oklahoma’s first monument to an ethnic minority group which faced discrimination during this early period of Oklahoma history especially from white Americans who wanted to legally disenfranchise them and send all African Americans back to Africa on so called.