The Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, grew into the most famous and prosperous black urban community in the United States during the early 1900s. Dubbed the “Negro Wall Street” by educator Booker T. Washington, this community had a flourishing population that included both a working class and a middle class of prosperous citizens.
After the Civil War, most of the all-black townships that had been established in the United States were located in Indian and Oklahoma Territories. One of those townships, Greenwood, was created in 1906 by one of Tulsa’s earliest pioneers, O.W. Gurley, who had come from Arkansas to Oklahoma in the 1889 Land Rush. A black educator and entrepreneur who gained wealth by speculating in land, Gurley purchased forty acres on the northern outskirts of Tulsa, which itself had been incorporated only eight years earlier in 1898. Gurley sold his land to African Americans who soon developed a small community. Tulsa grew rapidly because of the oil boom in the surrounding countryside and by 1910 annexed Greenwood.