Route 66 officially existed from 1926 to 1985 and linked Chicago to Santa Monica, California. At Centennial Plaza in Tulsa, visitors learn about Cyrus Avery's contribution to the historic road—and see the original (now closed) Route 66 bridge across the Arkansas River.
Cyrus served on several state and federal highway planning groups and was instrumental in running Route 66 through Oklahoma rather than farther north as was once proposed. Tulsa's 11th Street bridge over the Arkansas River—the primary link between the city and the oil fields to the west—was one of the major factors in the decision. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the bridge was in service until 1980 but is now closed and considered unsafe even for pedestrians.
The focal point of the plaza is the 20,000-pound sculpture East Meets West, created by Robert Summers and installed in fall 2012. The artwork depicts Cyrus and his family in a Model-T encountering a horse-drawn carriage on their way from the west Tulsa oil fields. Plaques surrounding the statue give additional information about Route 66, Cyrus and the sculpture.
Visitors can easily access the plaza by parking across the street and walking across Southwest Boulevard on the new skywalk. The plaza is part of a community development package called Vision 2025, which calls for future development of a Route 66 Interpretive Center on the same site.