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Unusual Downtown Tulsa: The Center of the Universe and the Artificial Cloud

Updated on July 20, 2016

The Mystical Center of the Universe

Archimedes wrote about it, Jules Vern theorized about it, and the Nazi's searched for it, and still, it lies comfortably situated in the heart of Downtown Tulsa. It has been called a void in the fabric of space; a space haunted by mystic energy and profound revelations, and yet it is so ordinary that most pass right through it.

All of the great scholars and thinkers out there can finally find peace; Tulsa has found The Center of the Universe. In fact, a lot of Tulsan’s have known about it for years, and it's situated right in the heart of downtown Tulsa.

While it may not be the true center of the universe, it is none-the-less, a magical and mysterious place.

Weird Oklahoma: Your Travel Guide to Oklahoma's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets
Weird Oklahoma: Your Travel Guide to Oklahoma's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets

Oklahoma has a history that's both notorious and peculiar, from legendary natives like Giggling Granny-a jovial woman responsible for as many as eleven murders-to Shaman's Portal, a gateway said to have swallowed handfuls of unsuspecting travelers over the last few centuries.

 
Downtown Tulsa Mysteries: The Center of the Universe in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Downtown Tulsa Mysteries: The Center of the Universe in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Tulsa Center of the Universe: An Acoustic Anomaly

The Tulsa Center of the Universe is a worn concrete circle, approximately thirty inches in diameter, within the middle of another circle made up of thirteen bricks. Overall, the center is a little more than eight feet in diameter.

The center of the universe is an acoustic anomaly; when one stands in the center of the circle and makes a noise, that noise is echoed back several times louder than it was made. Imagine dropping a small pin and expecting to hear a tiny “tink” as it hits the floor. Instead, the sound the pin makes is more like the loud crash of a gong.

While this in itself is amazing, the truly amazing thing is that no one standing outside of the circle can hear a thing. A foghorn could be going off in the center of the circle, and those on the outside wouldn’t hear it. Or rather, that’s how the legend goes.

In reality, your voice does become extremely distorted when heard from outside the circle. Supposedly, the parabolic reflectivity of the circular planter walls causes the distortion. Many people have spent a lot of time studying how this effect is made, but there has been no consensus on what causes it. Maybe it is the ghosts of a parallel dimension toying with us, or maybe it’s a simple vortex where cosmic energies collide. Whatever the causes of the distortions are, it is truly an amazing place.

Located in downtown Tulsa at the apex of a rebuilt span of the old Boston Street Bridge between 1st and Archer Street, the Center of the Universe is easy to find. A brick path leads to the pedestrian bridge that goes over the railroad tracks, accessible from the corner of W. Archer St. and N. Boston Ave. It is located directly northwest of the old Union Train Depot (now the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame), and immediately south of the Williams Center Tower.

Downtown Tulsa Treasures: The Artificial Cloud is dwarfed by downtown Tulsa's tallest skyscraper, the BOK Tower. The Bank of Oklahoma Tower is a much smaller version of one of the twin towers of NYC's World Trade Center, and was actually designed by
Downtown Tulsa Treasures: The Artificial Cloud is dwarfed by downtown Tulsa's tallest skyscraper, the BOK Tower. The Bank of Oklahoma Tower is a much smaller version of one of the twin towers of NYC's World Trade Center, and was actually designed by
Downtown Tulsa Treasures: Up close detail of the base of the sculpture.
Downtown Tulsa Treasures: Up close detail of the base of the sculpture.

The Artificial Cloud in Downtown Tulsa

Several feet southwest of the Center of the Universe, rests another great downtown Tulsa landmark. Created for the 1991 Mayfest, Native American artist Robert Haozous created a great sculpture named “Artificial Cloud.” The sculpture is seventy-two and one-half feet tall, the work was created on the premise that more people would look at a naturally rusting steel cloud than at the real thing.

The Tulsa Convention and Visitors Bureau website describes it as "a silent commentary on man’s love of technology and the destructiveness that can come from that infatuation. The surface of the sculpture has been allowed to rust, to show the effect of time and the atmosphere."

Haozous' concerns about the state of the Earth is evident in this piece of work, as he designed it as a way of drawing attention to pollution and other destructive practices.

Bob Haozous tells interviewer Larry Abbott in A Time of Visions:

"It's seventy-two and a half feet tall, but it wasn't made to erode or rust. It's more like there was an intentional effort not to preserve it. And that's a major thing. That's an important statement because steel rusts and if you try to keep it from rusting, you're going against nature. But that's okay, you know, you can make things last forever if you want to. But my statement was not to preserve it but to leave it as it was because it's going to rust anyway. It's one of man's tools and it's guaranteed to disappear in a thousand or two thousand years. There are many meanings in that piece, but its primary statement comes from an idea I've been thinking about for a long time. And that is, in the future, we're going to have to make our environments. We're going to pollute the earth and the sky so much that we have to either move underground or into dome-type buildings and pump in purified air so we can breathe. So I've gradually been going into the direction of making artificial nature."

Haozous had a lot to say about technology and its impact on today’s society. Shackles on the lower base of the statue are meant to symbolize the shackles that were placed on the Indians of early America. The long, center section illustrates humans without hands among a mass of airplanes. It is a very unique work of art, and the detail is stunning.

Google Map of the Center of the Universe in Downtown Tulsa.  Click for larger size.
Google Map of the Center of the Universe in Downtown Tulsa. Click for larger size.

Whether you come to visit downtown Tulsa's Center of the Universe or Haozous's Artificial Cloud, you won't be disappointed. Both are unique in their own way, and both will leave a lasting impression.

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    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 5 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      This is a very interesting hub.I have not been to Tulsa in many years, but am going to be traveling there this month. I will have to visit these places as I am intrigued by your hub. Voted up and interesting! Have a wonderful day! :)

    • louromano profile image

      louromano 5 years ago

      Interesting hub. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Kaye 7 years ago

      Very, very nice hub. I enjoyed it and learned somethings as well.

      Congrats!

    • Urbane Chaos profile image
      Author

      Eric Standridge 7 years ago from Wister, Oklahoma

      Interesting, strange, and a little off the deep end - but still, it's a story that's not widely published. When I lived in Chicago, there was a million sites about everything there. When I moved to Oklahoma, well, I had to dig to find things to do.

      Still, there is a million things to do here - from he bizzare, to the normal run-of-the-mill attractions.

      It still amazes me that I was nominated! - The most important thing for me is to help others know what an amazing state Oklahoma is!

      Thanks for the comments!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Oh now I know, interesting topic, Thank you, Maita

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 7 years ago from Texas

      Interesting info; thanks for sharing and congrats on being nominated as a Hubnuggets Wannabe. Good luck to you! :)

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Amazing, wow! So cool... :)

      Congratulations to your Hubnugget Nomination! I had fun flying all the way here to see Tulsa too! What a treat it has been reading all about it.

      Now you have to vote and promote your hub for the Hubnuggets...here is the link: http://hubpages.com/hubnuggets10/hub/When-Kung-Fu-... Enjoy the Hubnuggets!

    • Urbane Chaos profile image
      Author

      Eric Standridge 7 years ago from Wister, Oklahoma

      Pam, Thanks!

      Wordscribe, I used to up until a few months ago. For the time being, I'm in Okmuglee, but will be headed Wister way towards the end of the summer.

      It's amazing to see how much Tulsa has changed just within the last year - especially with the new BOK arena and all of that. Tulsa's definitely moving up in the world!

      The area around Utica Square is beautiful.. I was sad to leave, but I had a job offer I couldn't refuse.

    • profile image

      wordscribe41 7 years ago

      Congrats on the nomination! I lived in Tulsa for 10 years... From when I was 8 to 18 (lived near Utica Square). I take it you live there?

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      Good hub.