Classen Boulevard/Drive. In the vintage clickable map, notice that "Classen Boulevard" is the diagonal road running from around NW 10th northwesterly toward Western. We know that diagonal street as "Classen Drive" today, but when it was originally constructed the diagonal was "Classen Boulevard." Below, at the left, are a pair of early-day Sanborn Map Company maps, and, at the right, a 1922 Sanborn map which shows Classen Boulevard at that time -- the blue element shows the location of the ORC trolley line toward Epworth University. In this mini-article, you can click on most images for larger views.
1904


1906
1922
In the above 1904 and 1906 maps, notice that Epworth College/University still existed but was gone by 1922. Note, too, that Classen Boulevard did not extend directly south below NW 17th as it does today.
When the Oklahoma Railway Company built its trolley Route to Belle Isle Lake in 1907-1908, Classen Boulevard as a city street was a byproduct of that development as shown by the photo at the right. As for the omission of Epworth College/University in the 1922 map, Epworth closed its doors and moved to Guthrie in 1911, followed by several years of litigation as to title to the property which was eventually restored to the residential and commercial development pool. I had earlier thought that Oklahoma City University simply involved a move from the original Epworth property to the new location, but, as is discussed in the Epworth University mini-article, that simple notion is far from the truth. Construction of Classen toward
Belle Isle Lake circa 1909-1910

Trolleys ceased to operate in 1947. Strong civic interest existed in making Classen Boulevard a "freeway" (the word was obviously hyperbole -- major local thoroughfare was more accurate) from NW 50th down to Main Street. In 1950, voters approved a bond election which included that project, as shown by this November 16, 1952 Daily Oklahoman article at the right.

As part of the process, the original diagonal which we know as Classen Drive today came to have that name, shown by the August 20, 1952, article below.


The name change was controversial -- homeowners along the route wanted the name to be Harndale Drive but businesses such as Plaza Court wanted Classen Drive. Some property owners on Olie (which disappeared south of NW 17th) were ticked, too. In any event, on November 16, 1952, the city celebrated the opening of its new "freeway"
with a mega-parade and a fun-filled afternoon.




And that's how the Classen Boulevard we know today from the former Classen Circle down to Main came to be. Other extensions of Classen Boulevard would continue into the present era.

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