Was Tulsa America’s Wealthiest City?

A business colleague made the statement, in a discussion about Tulsa, that in the 1940s and 1950s Tulsa was the wealthiest city in the world, on a per capita basis. I called “BS” and took on the job of researching the claim.

I have not found anything that claims, directly or indirectly, that Tulsa was the wealthiest/richest/etc. city in the world, or even country, at any time. However, I have learned much about Tulsa, including its rich oil history that leads me to believe this claim could very well be true.

Can you help me find a citation to support (or reject) the claim?

Thanks in advance, and regards from Houston (the new “Oil Capital of the World,” Tulsa’s former title).

_Dave Gohlke

_Editor’s Note: Nancy K. Owens, who is writing the oil series in the GTR Newspapers, researched the following: The book “Cake and Frosting” published in 1936, had this passage, “Tulsa banks reflect Tulsa’s high purchasing power. Tulsa leads all major cities in the Tenth Federal Reserve District (including Kansas City, Omaha, Denver and OKC) in per capita bank transactions (i.e. checks paid) with Tulsa at $8,459; Kansas City $8,242; Omaha $7,120; Denver, $5,755; and Oklahoma City $5,205.”

Owens says that she was informed by a reliable source that Tulsa at one point, in the 1920s, had the highest per capita income in the nation but says she can not confirm the information.

We invite our readers to contribute documented information if it is available. Please call us at (918) 254-1515._

Updated 09-28-2005

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