Kendall Whittier – Historic Neighborhood in Tulsa

Kendall-Whittier continues its resurgence as new businesses are drawn to the neighborhood. But the area has a rich history stretching back to the early days of Tulsa.

Kendall Whittier was a bustling shopping district from the late 1920s through the 1950s, but when a highway bisected the neighborhood in 1967, the area struggled to recover. By the early 2000s, the neighborhood was known as Tulsa’s red-light district– home to vacant storefronts and adult-oriented businesses. When KWMS got its start in 2010, the district had a 35 percent occupancy rate.

Thanks to community-led business recruitment and retention efforts, occupancy has grown to 100 percent today. Kendall Whittier is now home to a mix of galleries, breweries, restaurants, and non-mainstream retail. With 40 new businesses opening since 2013, occupancy in Kendall Whittier has grown to 100 percent today. In all, KWMS has seen a total of 350 jobs created and $158 million private dollars reinvested.

To overcome its perception as an unsafe area, KWMS developed a façade grant program to both beautify the neighborhood and reward private investment. They also grew an events calendar from one public event in 2013 to more than 20 events annually. From art walks and outdoor concerts to yoga and food truck festivals, KWMS aims to offer free or low-cost programming that appeals to everyone in the community. Kendall Whittier is among the most diverse neighborhoods in Tulsa, and a multicultural artisan market provides authentic outreach to the neighborhood’s large Hispanic population.