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Thread: Who were Robinson and Classen?

  1. Default Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Oklahoma City and Norman both have major streets named Robinson and Classen. They must have been named after locally important people back when the cities were being planned, but who were they?

    (Would be interested to know about the origins of some of OKC/Norman's other street names too—some are pretty obvious like Western, Eastern, and Penn(sylvania), but some of the more fanciful ones like May, Morgan, Council, and Britton could have interesting stories behind them.)

  2. #2

    Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott5114 View Post
    Oklahoma City and Norman both have major streets named Robinson and Classen. They must have been named after locally important people back when the cities were being planned, but who were they?

    (Would be interested to know about the origins of some of OKC/Norman's other street names too—some are pretty obvious like Western, Eastern, and Penn(sylvania), but some of the more fanciful ones like May, Morgan, Council, and Britton could have interesting stories behind them.)
    I typed in "Robinson Ave Oklahoma City" hoping to find an old article, or some webpage with some history.

    Google had some suggestions:



    *facepalm*

  3. #3

    Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Here is an old thread with some good info:

    http://www.okctalk.com/showthread.php?t=12722

  4. #4

    Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Anton Classen was one of the major players in the devlopment of Okc in the early days. Land man and real estate devoper, he had a huge hand in developing the neighborhoods north and northwest of downtown.

    When I was young, I was told Council Road was so named for a Native American meeting place that was in somewhere in the area of that section line.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    I know Tulakes elementary, Tulakes Church, Tulakes Avenue in what used to be Tulakes airport.

    Was Tulakes a particular person or just a weird spelling of a place that had two lakes?

  6. Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Anton Classen was an 89er who originally settled in Edmond after the Land Run. Shortly thereafter he bought the Edmond Sun and served as editor and publisher for a few years, while also developing neighborhoods in Edmond. I just recently learned that my 3x great grandfather bought a couple of lots from him in the 1890s. Eventually he sold the paper and was drawn to OKC, where he was a significant player and/or developer in a number of OKC’s most important historic neighborhoods. He also developed OKC’s original streetcar line to make development of OKC’s earliest “suburban” neighborhoods doable.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Quote Originally Posted by d-usa View Post
    I know Tulakes elementary, Tulakes Church, Tulakes Avenue in what used to be Tulakes airport.

    Was Tulakes a particular person or just a weird spelling of a place that had two lakes?
    A weird spelling of "two lakes". Some guy won a contest to name the airport that is now Wiley Post back in the—fifties, I want to say. Hefner was built or almost so (or maybe it was still Bluff Creek Reservoir, as it was before 1945). He came up with the names because it was between the "two lakes"; that is, Hefner and Overholser. They gave his address and everything, like, "The winner was Mr. Joe Blough at eleventy-seven N. Wilshire Terrace."

  8. #8

    Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Quote Originally Posted by rezman View Post
    Anton Classen was one of the major players in the devlopment of Okc in the early days. Land man and real estate devoper, he had a huge hand in developing the neighborhoods north and northwest of downtown.

    When I was young, I was told Council Road was so named for a Native American meeting place that was in somewhere in the area of that section line.


    Council Grove. I live in that area.

    http://dougdawg.blogspot.com/2008/06/council-grove.html

  9. #9

    Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Anton Classen was, possibly more than any other of the early moguls, responsible for most of the early development of OKC. Before coming to OKC, he spent some time in Edmond, where he founded and edited the newspaper that still exists there. In OKC, he first developed the area now known as Mesta Park, then played a large part in establishing the street car routes (in order to make his real estate ventures in NW OKC more attractive). He brought OCU to the city, and donated two full city blocks for use as a school that's now Classen SAS. After his death in 1922, his widow continued his efforts and helped many projects that no longer bear their name.

    Council Road is named for the Council Grove, remnants of which are still visible near Council and Melrose (between Reno and NW 10). Before the flood in the 1920s, the river ran through this area. The regular flooding near Reno and Rockwell, plus the ponds near the fairgrounds, are on the old channel, and the drainage ditch along Pershing Drive from May to near Pennsylvania is a remnant of an early attempt to create a canal from the river to downtown.

    Sheridan was originally named Grand, but renamed for Gen. Phil Sheridan to partially satisfy a request from the Sheraton hotel folk that it bear their name after they flagged a large structure on it downtown (which later changed flags).

    And Tulakes was indeed a reference to the lakes, Hefner and Overholser, nearby. It was intended to become OKC's major airfield, after the military took over Will Rogers at the start of WW2. The original Wiley Post Field was at the NW corner of Britton and May, and was Wiley's main base before his death in 1935.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    This got my curiosity as to what I was told when I was a kid. Council Grove was as a meeting place for plains Indians during the period of the unassigned lands, from which Council Road got it's name.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kyle View Post
    The original Wiley Post Field was at the NW corner of Britton and May, and was Wiley's main base before his death in 1935.
    Off topic, but here's a good write-up on the history of this air field. Of special interest to me as it's now where I live

    http://www.thevillageok.org/Chapter%...g%E2%80%A6.pdf

  12. Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Did Classen's streetcar lines ever make it down to Norman? If so, it would make a lot of sense that Norman would name a street after him too (especially since Norman's Classen Boulevard parallels the railroad tracks).

    So who was Robinson?

  13. Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott5114 View Post
    Did Classen's streetcar lines ever make it down to Norman? If so, it would make a lot of sense that Norman would name a street after him too (especially since Norman's Classen Boulevard parallels the railroad tracks).

    So who was Robinson?
    Yes. At one time they went to El Reno, Norman, and Guthrie, though by the time the last streetcars ran -- 1947 -- all interurban service had been shut down. For almost one full semester in late 1946, I rode the streetcar from NW 13 and Broadway Circle to Classen High School every morning. Then we moved to NW 20 and May, and I rode the bus instead.

    Sorry, I don't know who Robinson was.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    the interurban to norman basically followed shields blvd in south okc, broadway in moore, and porter (i think) in norman.

  15. Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnb911 View Post
    Off topic, but here's a good write-up on the history of this air field. Of special interest to me as it's now where I live

    http://www.thevillageok.org/Chapter%...g%E2%80%A6.pdf
    Great reading!

  16. #16

    Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Kyle View Post
    and the drainage ditch along Pershing Drive from May to near Pennsylvania is a remnant of an early attempt to create a canal from the river to downtown.
    i wondered if those ditches were remnants of the old canal... the only certain evidence of its route that i've ever seen is a plaque on a building on sw 3rd. i've tried to figure out what path the canal took but there isn't much information out there.

  17. Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin View Post
    the interurban to norman basically followed shields blvd in south okc, broadway in moore, and porter (i think) in norman.
    This was the route that US-77 took through Cleveland County as well, before I-35 was built.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin View Post
    i wondered if those ditches were remnants of the old canal... the only certain evidence of its route that i've ever seen is a plaque on a building on sw 3rd. i've tried to figure out what path the canal took but there isn't much information out there.
    It is also evidence of where the Rock Island RR came through there further to the west, before it was shifted south to the current alignment.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Anyone have any idea how Sorghum Mill Rd got its name?

  20. #20

    Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnb911 View Post
    Off topic, but here's a good write-up on the history of this air field. Of special interest to me as it's now where I live

    http://www.thevillageok.org/Chapter%...g%E2%80%A6.pdf
    Here's some more interesting info about that airfield...with pictures. It's about 2/3 down the page.
    http://www.airfields-freeman.com/OK/Airfields_OK_C.htm

  21. #21

    Default Re: Who were Robinson and Classen?

    Quote Originally Posted by LeBiddy View Post
    Here's some more interesting info about that airfield...with pictures. It's about 2/3 down the page.
    http://www.airfields-freeman.com/OK/Airfields_OK_C.htm
    Very cool. Yes, I remember when the Uptown market opened, they did that mural to commemorate the spot where the hangar used to be. I had no idea the area used to be an airfield until a neighbor told me, along with a 'ever wonder why our neighborhood is so flat?' It is indeed flat, even by OKC's standards, which gets me in trouble when it comes time to run the OKC half. Training in the neighborhood and at the lake bites me in the butt when I hit those hills.

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