Oklahoma’s First Highway Map

1916 map of Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s first highway map published in 1916

Oklahoma’s first highway map was published one hundred years ago, and I think provides a fascinating look at the development of the state at that time.  This was also an important milestone in mapmaking, with the focus of travel maps switching from railroads to roads.

This is a portion of the 1916 map available for download from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation State Highway Map Archive page.  There is a 1907 map listed, but this one shows the railroads existing at the time.  The 1916 map does not show highways as we know them today, but it was a good attempt to map the road network at the time.

I am guessing that none of these roads were paved, and they were not designed for cross-country travel.  The map includes a black line for every section line in the state (spaced one mile apart), with red lines for the roads that the mapmaker determined were travel worthy.  Some diagonal roads seem to be on railroad right-of-way.  Some may be older roads that did not follow the section lines, but this was before there was a formal Highway Department in the state and thus before the state started buying right-of-way for highway use.

The sample map above shows a section of the state from Oklahoma City to Norman.  What looks like a loop around Oklahoma City appears to be the route of Grand Boulevard (of which only portions remain today while other sections have been turned into freeways or Interstate highways).  Some other features on the map are representative of the entire state–many roads dead end without connecting to other roads, and many river crossings look very problematic.

Some of the roads shown on this map later became part of U.S. 66 and other highways, and I think many Federal and state highways were stitched together from the previously existing roads.  Of course, it is interesting to look at the later maps on the ODOT web site to see how these roads were developed.

Although not directly related to food, I thought it would be particularly noteworthy to celebrate the 100th anniversary of this historic map–and in how much travel has developed since that time.

Oklahoma City Mexican Restaurants 1983

This list is a transcription of notes I took about Mexican restaurants in Oklahoma City in 1983.  The full list includes restaurants I copied from the telephone directory (and which were listed as “Mexican restaurants” in the yellow pages).  Star ratings are for the ones I visited.

Oklahoma City had a much greater percentage of one-star and two-star restaurants than other cities included in this series of historical posts.  In this respect I think Oklahoma City was actually representative of most cities in the United States at the time.  It had more Mexican restaurants than most cities, but to me the quality seemed much lower than in Texas and New Mexico cities.

Some of the one-star restaurants had pure Anglo style food that did not even rise to the level of the Tex-Mex served at the majority of restaurants.  There is term which is now used called “Okie-Mex,” and I think this also would describe most of the Mexican food in 1983.  I did find some restaurants on the south side (Capitol Hill) that served more authentic Mexican food, either exclusively or in addition to the Tex-Mex menu.  I remember Las Rositas as having some dishes I had found in El Paso at some of the better restaurants there.

I remember A&T Garcia’s as being the best Mexican restaurant in town, and this seemed to be a combination of California and New Mexico style Mexican food (with red and green chile used in place of the brown gravy-like “chili” used in Tex-Mex restaurants).  Mostly, though, I thought they just had better quality food.

The difference between 1983 and today for Mexican food in Oklahoma City is striking, and I would say authentic styles of food are prevalent in the central and south areas of the city.  A large number of restaurants serve Aguascalientes (Calvillo) style food, although many also offer American style dishes on the menu.  You are probably more likely to find truly authentic food if you go to a take-out restaurant, taco truck, etc. than in a sit-down restaurant where they serve you at the table.

In the lists I made for Austin and Albuquerque, I could see how the regional Mexican styles which had developed in the area (Tex-Mex and New Mexican cuisine, respectively) had seemed to make the population more accepting of authentic Mexican food which came along later.  Oklahoma City did not have its own regional style of Mexican food, but early restaurants such as El Charrito made Tex-Mex the preferred style here.

The more authentic Mexican food served in a number of restaurants now may be largely due to an influx of immigrants from Mexico, but a large number of long time residents have become fans of this food as well.  In these and other ways I think Oklahoma City is very representative of a number of U.S. cities.

My goal for this article is not only to provide nostalgia but also to allow trends to be observed about how Mexican food has changed in the U.S. over a relatively short period of time.

RATING RESTAURANT ADDRESS PRICES COMMENTS
DOWNTOWN
star 4 A&T Garcia’s 409 W. Reno Exp
Chicano’s 1203 W. Main
Chuy’s 401 W. Sheridan
Delgado’s 1135 N. Hudson
star 3 La Roca
412 S. Walker Very Exp Too expensive
Que-Pasa 100 W. Main
star 2 Yolanda’s
1021 N. Western Exp Fairly authentic
NORTHWEST
Casa Bonita 3601 NW 39
star 2 Chi-Chi’s
4239 NW Hwy Exp
star 2 Don Serapio’s
11109 N. May Exp
El Chico 2226 N. Bdwy
star 1 El Chico 2909 Paseo Exp
El Chico Villa Prom
star 1 El Chico 6014 N. May Exp
star 1 El Fenix Quail Spgs Mall Very Exp
El Zocalo 4600 W. Reno
star 1 JC Garcia’s 3000 W. Britton Rd. Exp
star 2 Las Chalupas
825 NW 23rd Mod
star 2 Last Cafe of San Jose
2625 W. Britton Rd. Exp Too expensive
star 3 Monterey House
4533 NW 39th Mod
star 1 Nino’s 6509 NW Hwy Exp
Papagayo’s 12100 N. May
star 3 Taco Palace
4200 NW 39th Mod
CAPITOL HILL
Chi-Chi’s 1024 SW 74th
El Chico Esplanade Shopping Center
El Rancho Sanchez 5804 S. Western
star 2 El Chalan 3325 S. Robinson Mod
La Roca 948 SW 36th
star 3 La Roca
333 SE 29th Mod  Changed to Mino’s
star 3 Las Rositas
2608 S. May Mod
Los Tacos 1311 SW 44th
Los Trillo 2608 S. Robinson
star 3 Mi Tierra Cafe
1412 S. Walker Mod Open weekends only
Monterey House 705 SW 59th
star 2 Ninos 7220 S. Walker Exp
Ninos 5425 S. Penn
star 3 Pablo’s
1408 SE 15th Exp Too expensive
Pancho’s 5733 S. Western
Pizarro’s 2908 SW 59th  Out of business
Tacoville 3502 Newcastle Rd.
MIDWEST CITY & DEL CITY
Casa de Zamudio 6308 E. Reno
Chi-Chi’s 6100 Tinker Diagonal
Del Taco 4320 SE 15th
El Chico Heritage Park Mall
Hacienda Hernandez 4733 SE 29th
Hernandos 11211 NE 23rd
Pancho’s 1224 S. Air Depot
EDMOND
star 1 Acapulco 400 S. Bryant Mod
star 1 Pepe’s 1701 S. Broadway Mod
MOORE
La Roca 111 S. Broadway
Moore’s Little Mexico 1743 N. Broadway
NORMAN
Border Crossing 606 W. Main
star 1 El Palacio
120 E. Main Mod
Johnny’s Mex Food 1118 N. Berry
Taco Fiesta 2110 W. Lindsey
Zamudios 428 W. Robinson
YUKON
star 3 Poquito de Mexico 422 W. Main Mod Enchiladas excellent. Tacos & hot sauce are lousy
TUTTLE
Cisco’s Tacos 813 Main
AREA WIDE
Taco Bell 13 locations
Taco Bueno 12 locations
Taco Mayo 5 locations
Taco Tico 5 locations

 

The four-star rating system was as follows:

star 4 Very Good.
star 3 Good.
star 2 Fair.
star 1 Poor.