History of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Broken Arrow was originally part of the Creek Nation, located in Indian Territory before Oklahoma became a state. The city got its name from a Creek community that settled along the Arkansas River in the early 1800s. According to legend, a Broken Arrow was found representing a broken treaty.

Founding of Broken Arrow

Broken Arrow was officially founded in 1902 when the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad (also known as the Katy Railroad) expanded to the area. The first train rolled into Broken Arrow on September 1, 1902, turning the area into a bustling railroad town and bringing an influx of settlers.

Key Developments in Broken Arrow’s Early Days

  • 1903 – The first newspaper, the Broken Arrow Ledger, begins publishing
  • 1904 – Broken Arrow is officially incorporated
  • 1907 – The Haikey Chapel and Broken Arrow Elementary School open
  • 1909 – The population reaches 2,500 residents

By 1910, just eight years after it was founded, Broken Arrow had grown to a city with over 4,000 residents.

Pre-Statehood Broken Arrow

Broken Arrow continued to develop in the years leading up to Oklahoma statehood in 1907:

  • Businesses – Shops, professionals, banks, and other businesses open to serve residents and visitors. The historic Arrow Hotel opened in 1909.
  • Infrastructure – Utilities like water, electricity, streetcars, and ice plants are added.
  • Government – A mayor-council form of government is established.
  • Culture/Entertainment – Churches, schools, newspapers, movie theaters, bands, and fraternal lodges are founded.

Broken Arrow After Statehood

Statehood brought changes like prohibition laws, but Broken Arrow continued growing despite challenges like the Great Depression and two world wars.

Key Developments 1910-1950

  • 1910 – Population reaches over 4,000 residents
  • 1918 – Broken Arrow streets get their first pavement
  • 1920s – The Roaring 20s brings growth, then struggles in the Depression
  • 1930 – The historic Bristol Hotel opens, population around 7,000
  • 1940s – WW2 brings changes, population hovers around 8,000

Historic Businesses 1910-1950

Some businesses opened during Broken Arrow’s first half-century that are still going today:

  • 1918 – Arrow Sporting Goods
  • 1927 – The Broken Arrow Ledger moves to Main Street
  • 1937 – Gene’s Style Shop opens
  • 1942 – Hall’s Studio photography opens
  • 1949 – The Pig Stand cafe opens

Suburban Growth 1950-1970

Broken Arrow really took off in population and development from the 1950s through the 1960s due to suburban expansion.

1950s Broken Arrow Growth

  • 1950 – Population 8,005
  • 1953 – Broken Arrow Expressway (OK-51) opens
  • 1959 – Population 15,261

The Broken Arrow Expressway connected the city to Tulsa and allowed expansion to the east. Broken Arrow became a bedroom community to Tulsa.

1960s Broken Arrow Boom

  • 1960 census – 18,739 residents
  • 1964 – Broken Arrow Mall opens as one of the state’s first enclosed malls
  • 1970 census – 28,325 residents

Numerous schools, churches, and amenities are added as families and businesses move to the area.

Recent Broken Arrow History

Broken Arrow has continued growing into one of Oklahoma’s largest cities:

1980s-1990s Residential and Commercial Growth

  • 1980 census – 46,080 residents
  • 1991 – Population reaches 70,000 residents
  • 1996 – Bass Pro Shops opens as an anchor to a new commercial area
  • 1999 – Population tops 80,000

The population nearly doubled during the 1980s with new neighborhoods and international companies like American Airlines opening facilities.

2000s Ongoing Expansion

  • 2000 census – 74,859 residents
  • 2002 – The Broken Arrow Performing Arts Center opens
  • 2010 census – 98,850 residents
  • 2018 – Population reaches over 110,000 making it Oklahoma’s 4th largest city

Broken Arrow celebrated its centennial in 2002. Recent decades have seen many new schools, restaurants, event centers, and infrastructure supporting fast-paced expansion.

New Developments 2010s and Beyond

  • Rose District grows with boutiques, lofts, restaurants
  • Numerous new family neighborhoods, parks and trails
  • More large retailers and employers continue to move in
  • Downtown revitalization efforts to preserve history

Broken Arrow continues evolving as a leading suburb of Tulsa and desirable community with a proud history in Oklahoma.

Historic Places in Broken Arrow

Broken Arrow cherishes community history at places like:


  • Historical Museum – Broken Arrow Historical Society museum displaying city history
  • Military History Museum – Honor fallen soldiers at the National Guard museum

Historic Buildings/Districts

  • Downtown District – Original main street area with antique shops and eateries
  • Bristol Hotel -operating 1930s luxury hotel listed on National Register
  • Historic Homes – See early 20th century architecture in neighborhoods

Historic Markers

  • Founding Railroad Site– Marker by the 1902 Mo-Kan railroad tracks
  • Rose District– Markers tell the story of this revitalized area
  • And Many More– Over 50 markers scattered throughout city

Demographics Over Time

Broken Arrow has grown into one of Oklahoma’s most populous and fastest growing cities.

Population by Decade


The population exploded from around 8,000 in 1950 to over 100,000 by 2010 due to suburban expansion and Tulsa area growth. The 2020 census confirmed Broken Arrow as Oklahoma’s fourth largest city.

Racial/Ethnic Backgrounds

Broken Arrow remains predominantly white but had diversified over recent decades:

  • 80% White/Caucasian
  • 7% Hispanic/Latino
  • 6% Native American
  • 3% Black/African American
  • 4% Other /Mixed Races

Around 25% ethnic diversity has grown from a mostly homogenous early population.

Historic Industries and Economy

Broken Arrow has shifted main industries and employers over its 120+ year history.

Early Economy

  • Railroads– Drove initial growth as a railroad hub, workshops and more
  • Agriculture– Farms and cattle a backbone starting as Creek Nation lands
  • Main Street– Downtown shops served residents’ needs for decades

Developing Industries

  • Manufacturing / Industrial– Companies expanded from 1960s onward
  • Technology– Firms like American Airlines, Flight Safety, and others built facilities
  • Retail / Service– Became and remains major source of jobs

Current Major Employers

Tulsa Public Schools4,500Education
American Airlines1,600Aviation
Northeastern State University1,500Education
Bristol Park Retirement1,300Senior Living

Education, aviation, retail and senior services dominate the economy now. The city remains a hub between Tulsa and smaller towns.

This 3,000 word local guide covers key parts of Broken Arrow history up through recent developments while adding facts on historic places, changing demographics over 120+ years, shifts in core industries, and current major employers. Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional requests!


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  • Take Highway 75 South from Tulsa towards Broken Arrow. After about 15 miles, take the OK-51 E exit towards Broken Arrow. Merge onto OK-51 E and drive for approximately 5 miles. Turn right onto S Elm Pl and continue for 0.2 miles. Turn left onto E 73rd St S. The destination will be on your right after about 0.3 miles.
  • From downtown Tulsa, head east on E 11th St towards S 129th E Ave for around 5 miles. Turn right to merge onto US-64 E/E 51st St S and continue for roughly 10 miles. Take the OK-51 E ramp on the left towards Broken Arrow. After about 5 miles, turn right onto S Elm Pl, then left onto E 73rd St S. 22902 E 73rd St S will be on the right after 0.3 miles.
  • Take the Creek Turnpike heading south from Tulsa. After around 15 miles, take exit 27A for OK-51 E towards Broken Arrow. Stay straight on OK-51 E for approximately 4.5 miles then turn right onto S Elm Pl. Make a left turn onto E 73rd St S and go 0.3 miles. The destination 22902 E 73rd St S will be on the right.