The Short North Tulsa Ghetto Story
In the second largest city in Oklahoma there has been a long association with many stereotypes, from the much street activity that occurs within the North Tulsa ghetto to the various Tulsa gangs that roam the city’s North Side, but there is more to this small city that has often been referred as Thug Town.
While during the mid-1980s with a lack of employment, resources, and reasonable opportunities many of the Tulsa ghetto began to adopt the Blood and Crip affiliations of Los Angeles by forming Tulsa gangs like the Hoovers or the Neighborhood Crips in many of the city’s low-income sections.
The streets of Tulsa lie directly in the heart of the North Tulsa community, a small section of Tulsa that is mostly based around M.L.K Boulevard, North Peoria Avenue, and North Lewis Avenue, while expanding from Pine Street to 56th Street North.
As one travels through North Tulsa it is quite easy to witness the large amounts of poverty in an area of Tulsa that has the majority of the city’s public housing projects and massive rundown vacant and unkept properties.
Even though there is Tulsa gangs in East Tulsa, mostly in the city’s Hispanic community, an active section of South Tulsa around South Peoria and 61st, and housing projects in West Tulsa like Parkview Terrace, North Tulsa is still the heart of Tulsa.
With the city’s North Side being the heart of the streets, the heart of the North Tulsa ghetto are the housing projects like Vernon Manor, Comanche Park, Morning Star, Apache Manor, Mohawk Manor, Town Square, Seminole Hills, Sunset Plaza and Osage Hills.
Originally, the housing projects were built to help families get on their feet with affordable housing as a way to start a family’s process of becoming self-sufficient and self-reliable, but as years passed the community within the projects changed.
By the 1990s, Tulsa’s housing projects became so bad that were constant police raids and around the clock foot patrol as numerous housing complexes became overtaken by Tulsa gangs and other aspects of the streets.
While not all housing complexes had street activity that called for a large police presence, many others were at the center of controversy as owners would misuse federal funds or the complexes were being condemn for a lack of proper maintenance.
Eventually, most of Tulsa’s housing projects would become either gated communities that controlled the resident’s movement in and out of the neighborhood and limiting its visitors, sold to private investors, or replaced with mixed-income apartments.
The Real History of North Tulsa
North Tulsa was once a promising area of black excellence, businesses and an overall success within the black community as the Greenwood District became known as Tulsa’s Black Wall Street as early as the 1800s.
With segregation, racism and discrimination, Tulsa’s black residents were forced to create and build their own community in an isolated part of Tulsa, just north of the city’s center that would later become the Greenwood District.
In Tulsa’s Greenwood community African-Americans supported each other, which helped build a number of self-owned businesses and entrepreneurs while also keeping the community’s economy booming and circulating as everyone had a chance to benefit.
With success comes jealousy as the Tulsa’s Greenwood District brought in much jealousy from other residents outside of the North Tulsa neighborhood, even though segregation and discrimination were the reasoning for the creation of the community in the first place.
On a day in the year of 1921, rumors went around that a black male from the Greenwood District raped a white woman. With hatred already for Greenwood mobs of people went into the city’s black community and killed hundreds of residents and destroyed numerous homes and businesses until the National Guard was called to restore order after days of violence.
Despite the destruction of the Greenwood District, the community would eventually make a comeback but by the 1960s urban renewal construction of Interstate 244 once again destroyed the neighborhood, which would push the black population further into North Tulsa.
North Tulsa once had a large white population, but after the construction of the highway and the housing projects the community of North Tulsa transformed as many left due to the fear of the stereotypes that public housing would bring, along with significant parts of the community being demolished.
After white flight and all the urban renewal construction, the North Side became separated and isolated from the rest of Tulsa, which would somewhat result in the large decline of most of the North Tulsa hoods and communities.
North Tulsa went from the Black Wall Street to becoming known as Thug Town as poverty in some sections of the North Tulsa ghetto reaches over 50% in a city where there is a total of 20% with an average income of $28,000.
While vast majority of the people who live in North Tulsa are not involve with street activity or with being in Tulsa gangs like the Bloods of the Red Mob, North Tulsa still has an undisputed reputation throughout the state of Oklahoma.
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*Note: All information is provided either through people of the community, outside sources, and/or research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.