Here’s What Tulsa’s Greenwood District Looked Like In the 1920s

A look at what was.

2 min readMay 31, 2024


Today marks 103 years since the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, in which white mob violence decimated Tulsa’s Greenwood district.

Before the massacre, the Greenwood district—also known as “Black Wall Street”—was the country’s wealthiest Black community.

Greenwood, at its height, was home to 108 Black-owned businesses, including 30 restaurants, 41 groceries and the largest Black-owned hotel in the United States. Black professionals also moved to Greenwood, making it the base for a thriving class of Black physicians, surgeons, real estate agents, lawyers and dentists.

From May 31 to June 1, 1921, Tulsa’s white residents attacked the Greenwood district, killing 300 and burning 1,200 homes. After the massacre, 6,000 displaced survivors were sent to internment camps where many were made to labor without pay.

According to a 2018 research paper in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology, the massacre destroyed an estimated $200 million worth of Black property.

After the massacre, Tulsa’s Black community gathered the funds to rebuild the district and its businesses.

By 1942, Greenwood was home to 242 Black-owned businesses.

From 1924–1928, filmmaker Rev. Solomon Sir Jones filmed footage of several Black towns in Oklahoma, including Greenwood.

Jones traveled to Tulsa to capture footage of a rebuilt Greenwood after the massacre.

Before statehood, Oklahoma was home to 50+ thriving Black communities; 13 of those communities still exist today.

Here’s what survivor Eunice Jackson told author Eddie Faye Gates in her 1997 book “They Came Searching” on the rebuilding of Greenwood:

“They just were not going to be kept down. They were determined not to give up. So they rebuilt Greenwood and it was just wonderful.”

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