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Map of 1910 Grand Boulevard Loop as part of OKC Parks Plan of 1910Many in Oklahoma City are familiar with Grand Boulevard. There is even an exit for it off I-35 between SE 29th and SE 44th street. And they may drive it when touring the opulent homes in Nichols Hills. Or jog along its path in south OKC. Or follow it to Trosper Park in Del City, or Lincoln Park on northeast Oklahoma City.

Wait, what?

How can one road be seen in so many places in Oklahoma City? Doesn’t this cause confusion?

Way back in 1910 – shortly after statehood and only a few years after Oklahoma City was founded – the Oklahoma City Council hired W. H. Dunn, then Superintendent of Parks in Kansas City, to develop the first Oklahoma City Parks Plan. As part of that plan, Dunn developed the Grand Boulevard Loop. It wasn’t until 1930 that the City of OKC incorporated the Grand Boulevard Loop into a formal document – The City Plan for Oklahoma City. Much of the right of way for the boulevard was acquired, and a significant portion of the loop was constructed.

Download original plan here —-> 1910 Oklahoma City Parks Plan by WH Dunn

Download GPS tracks here —-> Grand Boulevard GPS Tracks

This plan from 1910 is the basis for many of the parks we see in Oklahoma City today – Trosper Park, Lincoln Park, and Woodson Park being the most prominent. This “Grand Boulevard” was designed to loop around the outskirts of Oklahoma City and provide a plan for not only parks and a road, but for zoning and long term development of Oklahoma City.

The plan wasn’t formally adopted by the City Council until 1930 and of course by then a few things had changed, but the basics of the plan was still in place. The right-of-way for the loop and parks was acquired and construction began. The loop was never officially completed until the construction of the Interstate system was developed, using much of the right-of-way acquired for the Grand Boulevard loop. That is why you see many of the access roads around I-44 and I-35 labeled “Grand Boulevard”.

I decided to retrace this route with my dual sport bike several years ago. It is a challenge trying to piece the route together without actually driving on the Interstate. My goal was to travel as many roads labeled “Grand Boulevard” as possible while sticking to the original route yet staying off the Interstate. This way I thought the route could be ridden by any motorcycle or even bicycle. Recently I rode this route again and logged it with my GPS so I could share with others. It took me and my daughter Emily Mathews exactly 2 hours to ride the route with a couple of short stops along the way. You have to really pay attention to the route in certain places. For example, near I-44 and Kelly, if you take the wrong turn it can lead you onto the Interstate, while if you turn just 20 yards further, it takes you along the I-44 access road – i.e. Grand Boulevard.

My daughter Emily and I stopped at Tombo Racing on our trip around the Grand Boulevard Loop.
My daughter Emily and I stopped at Tombo Racing on our trip around the Grand Boulevard Loop.
You can find signs for Grand Boulevard all around Oklahoma City.
You can find signs for Grand Boulevard all around Oklahoma City.
Emily and I rode our dual sport motorcycles on the Grand Boulevard loop. Any streetbike can easily make the loop.
Emily and I rode our dual sport motorcycles on the Grand Boulevard loop. Any streetbike can easily make the loop.

There are several interesting stops along the way and I only included a few in my GPS file. Tombo Racing, a long time Oklahoma City motorcycle speed shop, is located right on south Grand Boulevard just east of I-35. You will also pass Capitol Hill High School, and of course Trosper Park and Lincoln Park. The Railway Museum is marked near Lincoln Park, and the route takes you right in front of the OKC Zoo and Remington Park.

You can download the route by clicking “download” beneath the map. This will download GPX waypoints, which you can then load into most any GPS unit. Then follow the tracks for a tour around the “Outer Loop” of Oklahoma City!

For those of you without a GPS. you can click the Google Map below and follow the route on your phone:

Below are many beautifully hand drawn maps from the original 1910 plan.

img_dunn1910_005_fullmap

img_dunn1910_002_nepark

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img_dunn1910_007_riversidepark

img_dunn1910_001_classen1

img_dunn1910_008_shawsheights

img_dunn1910_09_classensection

img_dunn1910_010_westernandsixth

img_dunn1910_011_grandblvdsketch

img_dunn1910_012_grandblvdplan

img_dunn1910_013_grandblvdaerial

img_dunn1910_014_grandblvdsection

img_dunn1910_015_grandblvdbefore

 

Below is a map of Oklahoma when it was still Indian Territory. Oklahoma City was nothing more than a stage stop along the route.

Oklahoma map from 1885 when still Indian Territory

Here is an artist rendering of Oklahoma City circa 1890.

Artist rendering of Oklahoma City around 1890

The two images below are from the Oklahoma Historical Society and are scans of a tourist handbill about Oklahoma City.

Grand Boulevard Map 1

Grand Boulevard Map back page

Finally, here are a few newspaper articles from years past you can download to read about Oklahoma City’s “Grand Boulevard”.

Harvard 1911 Municipal Engineering report

How Oklahoma City Secured Its Park and Boulevard System

1909 Story about The Park System of Oklahoma City

 

 

OKC Thunder Cycles will once again be hosting their Thunder Run on April 5-7, 2013. This three day event, the largest motorcycling event in Oklahoma, features live music, dozens of vendors, trick and stunt riders, and a host of other entertainment for the family. Tens of thousands of motorcyclists converge on the Memorial and Western location of this event each spring.

http://www.okcthundercycles.com/thunderrun/

Tens of thousands of motorcyclists from all across Oklahoma show up for Thunder Run, the largest motorcycle event in Oklahoma.
Tens of thousands of motorcyclists from all across Oklahoma show up for Thunder Run, the largest motorcycle event in Oklahoma.

Saturday at Thunder Run motorcycle rally

Thunder Run motorcycle rally in Oklahoma City


Ride Oklahoma attended the Martin Luther King Jr. parade in downtown Oklahoma City this past week and marveled at the large turnout of African-American motorcycle riders there. Riders were on everything from tricked out sport bikes to chromed up Harley Davidson bikes to luxurious Gold Wings. Our friend Tommy Bolton interviewed several of the riders and his bikes were well represented in the parade. The Buffalo Soldiers looked pretty cool in their civil war style wardrobe and the OKC Sheriff’s Department motorcycle division put on a good display of motorcycling skill and precision. The entire crowd was very friendly and a great time was had by all, regardless of their skin color.

About 35 riders had a great time on Sunday riding street legal dirt bikes all through downtown OKC and north to the OKC Thunder Cycles Thunder Run VI party. Part of the fun of urban dual sport riding is jumping off loading docks, riding up stairs, and other fun things. Everyone was careful to not damage private property, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t have a bit of fun while riding!

More pictures are available on the forum thread here.


Oklahoma’s only remaining production bike company, Darwin Motorcycle in Oklahoma City, recently attented Dayton Bike Week in Florida, where they scored an impressive announcement. Their line of bikes, Brass Ball Bobbers, has been named “Official Bike of Daytona Bike Week 2011” by American Iron Magazine and the Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce. This is a huge accomplishment for the award-winning manufacturer.

“I knew we were in the running for several months, but I also knew there were hundreds of companies vying for this recognition. I never dreamed we would have a shot at it. But the editors of American Iron Magazine rode our bike at Sturgis and loved it. They then road our newly released 69 Chopper at Daytona this year and REALLY loved it. We were voted as the winner by their editorial staff. It is quite an accomplishment and as a company we are very proud of this recognition” said Dar Holdsworth, CEO of Darwin Motorcycles.

Winnning this award means a Brass Ball Bobbers motorcycle will be featured on the cover of American Iron Magazine, plus the bike will be in four different stories in the magazine over the next year. Darwin Motorcycle will build a custom Brass Ball Bobber for Daytona Bike Week in 2011, which will then be raffled off for charity.

“We are honored to have our bike featured in American Iron Magazine. And best of all, the bike we build for Iron Horse Magazine and the Daytona Chamber of Commerce will be raffled off for a good cause!” said Holdsworth.

by James Pratt

DRZ-400 in downtown OKC
Street legal urban dual sport riding atop the Santa Fe parking garage in downtown OKC

Once again Ride Oklahoma will be holding their irregularly scheduled “Urban Assault” dual sport ride in and around downtown Oklahoma City. This quasi-annual event sees riders on street legal dual sport motorcycles, traveling along the alleyways, parking lots and back roads of Oklahoma City, searching for clues to riddles and questions. Sunday morning, April 11 at 9:00 am riders will met at a yet to be determined location in Oklahoma City. GPS coordinates for ride waypoints will be available online a few days prior to the event. Riders are encouraged to form small 3-5 rider teams. The morning of the event they will be given clue sheets. The goal of each team is to travel to the GPS coordinates, find answers to the clues, and then everyone will meet at the end of the ride to talk smack and share stories.

This ride is a charity event, with all proceeds going to help the unborn child of Nathan Johnson, who recently died at the local OKC Tough Man contest. Cost will be $10 per rider. Teams are encouraged to find business sponsors to help raise additional money.
Kay Pratt, Connie Hamilton and Brian Hopkins at Java Dave's ni downtown OKC after an urban dual sport event
All motorcycles must be street legal, but we highly recommend a dual sport bike with knobbies. Riders must follow all local laws and ordinances and respect private property. We will be riding in unusual, out of the way places but please keep the noise down, don’t rip up yards and public areas with your knobbies, and respect the rights of the other downtown citizens. This is NOT a race and it is NOT an excuse for you to wreak havoc on downtown Oklahoma City. It is a great way to see some unusual places that you may not have known even existed and to have fun with your friends exploring the backroads and alleyways and industrial areas of OKC.

More information

Ride Oklahoma Calendar

by James Pratt

The premier motorcycling event in Oklahoma, Thunder Run VI, is fast approaching. This charity event comes once again to Oklahoma City on April 9-11, 2010 at OKC Thunder Cycles on Memorial & Western. Thousands of motorcyclists from all over Oklahoma and surrounding states descend on north Oklahoma City for a weekend of fun, food, music and good times. Sam Wills and his crew at OKC Thunder Cycles, along with Eric at Thunder Roadhouse Cafe always put on a top notch event. They have raised over $251,000 for multiple sclerosis since starting this event.

This year OKC Thunder Cycles will be giving away a 2010 Big Dog Mastif motorcycle and matching trailer to raise money for MS.

You can also see “The Wall of Death” where riders circulate in a big round barrel. The well-attended poker run will be held Sunday, as they try for a Guinness Book of World Records for the largest poker run.