Capitol building a reminder of Oklahoma's past, future

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

by Trait Thompson

The Oklahoman

One hundred years ago today (July 20, 2014), on a small hill overlooking Oklahoma City, throngs of spectators crowded the area where Gov. Lee Cruce was to drive a silver-plated pick into the ground. The excitement was palpable. More than 5,000 people came in cars, walked or took the train to witness this auspicious groundbreaking.

The day was hot. Dust from the cars clogged the air when the breeze died down. Yet the crowd was enthusiastic. It took four years for Oklahoma’s capital city issue to be decided as the political process wound to its conclusion. Finally, a new day had dawned in Oklahoma.

There were rumblings of war from distant reaches of the globe, but July 20, 1914, was a day to be optimistic in Oklahoma. Movie cameras whirred, children screamed and automobiles hummed. Cruce stepped out of his car and said a few words before swinging the pick. Introduced by the Chamber of Commerce president, the governor said, “It will take good, hard, honest labor to build such an edifice as we are starting today.”

He concluded his speech by stoking the pride of the 1889er spirit: “Gaze out over this spanning 600 acres of fertile soil, where the grass and wildflowers flourish and let your patriotic hearts well up within you and rejoice that there are men within the state who can and do accomplish things — big things.”

The Daily Oklahoman summed up the day: The ceremony will be marked “as one of the most impressive episodes in the life of the state.”

With his pick planted firmly in the ground, Cruce started a new chapter in Oklahoma history.


Trait Thompson is state Capitol project manager for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services.

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