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Tulsa Attracts the Crowds

October 8, 2003

Almanac Transcript

Tulsa attracts the crowds this week on the Oklahoma Audio Almanac.

Hello, Iím Steven Knoche Kite.

For almost a century, Tulsa, Indian Territory and then Tulsa, Oklahoma was known as the "oil capital of the world." The glory days of Tulsa as the oil capital occurred in the 1920s and 30s, and it was in 1923 that the first ever International Oil Exposition and Congress took place. When it was decided that there should be a world-wide conference involving everyone and anyone in the oil business the almost unanimous decision among those involved was to hold the event in Tulsa. For Tulsa, this decision meant several things:

  • One: the city's title of "Oil Capital" was firmly entrenched on a world-wide scale; and
  • Two: there was going to be a lot of money coming into Tulsa via the convention; and
  • Three: there were massive amounts of preparation needed to ready the town for the event.

In preparation, 75 organizers divided up into various committees including finance, attractions, expositions, conventions, parades and pageants, transportation, scientific and technical exhibits, public safety, auditing, entertainment, decorations, and buildings and grounds.

On October 8th of 1923 the first ever International Petroleum Exposition and Congress was officially declared under way. Overseeing the entire event was King Petroleum. The King, in reality Judge S. H. King of Tulsa, arrived in his own royal railroad car, stepped aboard an elaborately decorated float and arrived at the exposition led by a marching band and the tune of Yes, We Have No Bananas. King Petroleum and his attendants opened the exposition saying, "I have long known that Tulsa was the Oil Capital, but as my royal train approached your city I was amazed and pleased to note the great progress that has been made in recent years. I want to thank the officers of the International Petroleum Exposition and Congress for this beautiful scepter, assuring me that my reign of over Tulsa will be a happy and pleasant one."

Top oil executives from all over the world poured into Tulsa to take part in the events, teaching, learning and demonstrating all aspects of the petroleum industry. Close to 200 exhibitors displayed equipment and other wares while attendance at the event was said to have topped 5000 for each of the 6 days of the event. The Great International Petroleum Exhibition and Congress occurred annually for over 25 years with the first one taking place in this week of 1923.

Tulsa the oil capital of the world takes its place in the spotlight this week on the Almanac.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a joint production of the Oklahoma State University Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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