City, Osage and Tulsa counties, seat (1907) of Tulsa county, northeastern Oklahoma, U.S., situated on the Arkansas River. It originated in 1836 as a settlement of Creek Indians who named it for their former town in Alabama. White settlement began after the arrival in 1882 of the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway. The discovery of oil in nearby Red Fork (1901) and Glenn Pool (1905) launched the mid-continent oil and gas boom, and phenomenal growth followed. Hundreds of oil companies now have plants and offices in the city, which was the site of the International Petroleum Exposition (held 1965-80).
The city serves as the commercial and financial centre of a rich agricultural area and is the national headquarters of the U.S. Jaycees.
Thirty-five blocks of the original city centre, largely inhabited by African Americans, were burned during race riots in May and June of 1921; 300 people are believed to have died. In the following decade Tulsa's downtown was rebuilt, and the city is now renowned for its many buildings in the Art Deco style, including the Pythian Building, Union Depot, and the Phillips Oil “Philcade.” The city's cultural institutions include the Gilcrease Museum (1949), the University of Tulsa (1894), and Oral Roberts University(1965).