Oklahoma City (1990 pop. 444,719), state capital, and seat of Oklahoma co., central Okla., on the North Canadian River; inc. 1890. The state's largest city, it is an important livestock market, a wholesale, distribution, industrial, and financial center, and a farm trade and processing point. Oil is a major product; the city is situated in the middle of an oil field (opened 1928), with oil derricks even on the capitol grounds, and the city's fortunes remain tied to the oil and gas industry. The city has diversified light and heavy industries, and the nearby Tinker Air Force Base, a logistics center with one of the world's largest air depots, is also an important source of civilian employment.
One of the largest U.S. cities in area (650 sq mi/1,683 sq km), the city extends into three neighboring counties of Oklahoma co. and has many parks. Of interest are the capitol, the state historical museum, the city art museum, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the civic center buildings and monuments, a theater complex, a convention center, the state library, and a zoo. Educational institutions include the Univ. of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City Univ., and Oklahoma Christian Univ. The city also has a symphony orchestra and a professional basketball team (the Thunder).
Oklahoma City was quickly settled in a land rush after the area was opened to homesteaders on Apr. 22, 1889. It became the state capital in 1910. In 1995 a terrorist bomb destroyed a downtown federal office building, killing 168 people; the site is now a national memorial (see National Parks and Monuments (table)).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.