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Back to the Future: Oklahoma City celebrates 125 years by looking to the past

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Land Run of 1889 represented unknown possibilities for men who flocked to the Sooner State, before it ever was a state.

The city clerk’s records go back to 1890 but residents who lived then probably never could have imagined what the state would like now, 125 years later.

Jennifer Day spends her time organizing and preserving important moments captured in time in the archive division at city hall.

Day said, “So this is the first city council ledger. It starts in 1890.”

She added, “It has basically the record of city council meetings, and it was handwritten by the clerk at the time.”

Earlier this year, a large amount of paperwork started being stored only on the computer.

Paper was traded in for advanced technology.

She said, “It’s different and you do have to put your trust in the IT department, which we have a really, really strong IT department.”

Downtown Oklahoma City looks much different now than it did in the 1930s and thanks to the archives, we can still see what the city looked like back then.

With every photo comes a great story.

One such story involves the first legally elected mayor of Oklahoma City.

Mayor W.J. Gault was violently killed less than a year after becoming mayor.

Day said, “He was actually killed in a gunfight over a land dispute because the lots were all chosen in a hurry during the Land Run.”

Building from a blank canvas, ordinances show a reflection of a much different time.

“Alcohol consumption was a big one. City boundaries was pretty common,” Day said. “There was also a lot of concern with fire safety as everything was made from wood.”

Looking around today, Oklahoma City is filled with skyscrapers, busy streets and more than 600,000 residents.

It is all thanks to the leaders of the past who helped shape it to the home it is today.