Gathering Place

31st Street and Riverside Drive

Phase I opened: 2018

Architects: Michael Van Valkenburgh with Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects

Since opening in 2018, the Gathering Place has been featured in The New York Times and USA Today and has won awards for architectural design and community involvement, not to mention enthralled Tulsa citizens.

"Transformative”is the word most often used to describe the Gathering Place.

The Gathering Place is largely funded and led by Tulsa's George Kaiser, who expresses concern about the effects of poverty on Tulsa children, noting that Tulsans are often divided by geography, race and class.

The Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921 effectively created a segregated city, following then-Mayor Evans’ declaration that people of color should live in north Tulsa.

Nearly 100 years later, the Tulsa Health Department shows a more than 10-year difference in life expectancy for residents in north Tulsa versus south.

Yet despite his concerns, Kaiser chose to create the park between the Brookside neighborhood and downtown, in an area of Tulsa with an average home price of $300,000.

Original plans for inclusion hinged on free shuttle buses to the park, but that has not materialized. The Gathering Place website suggests traveling by bus, but Tulsa Transit passes are over $3 per day for an adult, and nearly $2 a day for a child.

The Gathering Place is a unique park.

The vegetation is intentionally local, programming is scheduled year-round, and there are plenty of spots to bring or buy food and drink, as well as handicapped-accessible facilities.

The Gathering Place is fantastic, but it does not transform Tulsa.

Letters to the editor are encouraged. Send letters to letters@tulsaworld.com.


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