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POPULATION METRO: 990,706
The one-trick energy pony that was Tulsa has ambled into the sunset. In its place—American art, music and a dogged pursuit of talent attraction and livability.

For years, Tulsa was the Oil Capital of the World. Today, the buzzing center on banks of the Arkansas River is becoming what The Washington Post calls “a musical Mecca”—one that’s contributed to the city’s #4 ranking in our Product category, which tracks institutions (in this case, Museums) and Attractions.

The recent opening of the $20-million, 6,000-object Bob Dylan Archive near the Guthrie Center (as in folk singer Woody Guthrie) makes Tulsa “the headquarters of Americana Music” according to Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley. Appropriately, Route 66 is nearby.

CITY PERFORMANCE
Place
Place 44
Product
Product 73
Programming
Programming 48
People
People 47
Prosperity
Prosperity 78
Promotion
Promotion 65

 

The city’s relative housing affordability and #2 ranking for Prosperity among small American cities means a steady influx of young talent. The latest example? Tulsa Remote attracts new residents who already have full-time employment or are self-employed and can work from anywhere with $10,000 in cash, a housing stipend of $1,000 and free-coworking space in Tulsa. More than 10,000 people applied in recent months.

The old money is helping invest in engaging the new. The Kaiser Institution—long a regional benefactor and the money behind Tulsa Remote—just helped christen The Gathering Place, a 66.5-acre (soon 100 acres), $465-million riverside park designed, like the best Dylan tune, to undo urban divisions of geography, race and class. No wonder people are Googling this place so much.