Kendall Whittier, Tulsa

Tulsa’s Kendall Whittier Main Street (KWMS), is one of three recipients of the 2020 Great American Main Street Award. This award recognizes communities that excel in comprehensive preservation-based district revitalization. Kendall Whittier Main Street (KWMS), which was selected by a national jury consisting of community development professionals and leaders from the fields of historic preservation and economic development, is being honored for turning an area that had been blighted for decades into a vibrant hub for arts and cultural activities. Patrice Frey, President and CEO of National Main Street Center, said that Kendall Whittier is a prime example of how the Main Street Approach can transform a neighborhood. “In just 10 year, Kendall Whittier Main Street has transformed the neighborhood’s perception and made it the heart of community life.”

From the 1920s to the 1950s, Kendall Whittier was a busy shopping area. However, it suffered from a highway that cut through it in 1967. The area has struggled to recover. The neighborhood became known as Tulsa’s red-light area in the 2000s. It was home to empty storefronts and adult-oriented business. The district was at 35% occupancy when KWMS was founded in 2010. Today, the occupancy rate has increased to 100 percent thanks to community-led recruitment and retention efforts. Kendall Whittier now has a variety of galleries, breweries and restaurants. Since 2013, Kendall Whittier’s occupancy has increased to 100 percent with 40 new businesses. KWMS has created 350 jobs and reinvested $158 million in private money. Kendall Whittier Mercado hosts a multi-cultural artisan marketplace on the first and third Saturdays of each month, from May through October. Unique handmade jewelry, clothing and shoes, blankets, blankets, baskets and original art & craft are all available for purchase. Credit: Kendall Whittier Main Street. Right: Kendall Whittier’s young visitor plays the public piano beneath the Whittier Square Clock Tower. It is an art installation created by elementary school students and a free instrument that everyone can use. It was installed in Kendall Whittier as part of Saied Music’s “Play Me, Tulsa” initiative.