Creek Stickball Field, dedicated in 2009, recognizes the legacy of the Creek Indians through local artist Sandra Van Zandt’s bronze sculptures of children playing stickball.
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Tulsa has one of America’s largest city parks. But it also has some of the smallest.
At more than 3,300 acres, Mohawk Park ranks among such large municipal parks as New York’s Central Park, Kansas City’s Swope Park and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
But Tulsa also has more than a dozen parks that are just an acre or so — often less. Some are basically vacant lots, others parts of street rights-of-way. Some have park picnic tables and swing sets or basketball goals.
Even little parks are used frequently, Parks Director Lucy Dolman says. The Tulsa Parks Department doesn’t keep attendance records on open parkland. But, she says, “We know neighborhoods use the pocket parks, as we are quickly advised of maintenance issues.
“Tulsans are fortunate to have access to an abundance of parks within a short distance of their homes.”
Neighbors tend to most of the parks, although the city mows and empties trash containers. Additionally, the parks have become popular for people seeking an area where they can walk to play with their children or dogs.
The smallest parks are the Gunboats, between East 11th and 13th streets on South Frankfort Avenue (just south of Home Depot). Gunboat North and Gunboat South, each just a quarter of an acre, have no amenities, but people in that residential area use them for picnics and play areas.
One park in a residential block is Pratt, between East 16th and 17th streets and South Florence Avenue and South Florence Place. It is named for Fletcher Pratt, a Tulsa developer and homebuilder for more than 40 years, who created Tulsa’s first steel-framed houses, near East Pine Street and North Sheridan Road.
Pratt died in 1960. He left seven empty lots in the Florence Park subdivision he had developed. In 1965, his sister, Mrs. George Markham, donated them to the city to be developed into a garden and floral park.
That development never happened, but the park has picnic tables and is used by neighbors for play and to walk dogs.
It’s just down the street from another small park, Florence, on East 21st Street. That’s just over an acre but has tennis courts, a playground and a water splash pad.
Two tiny parks honor Tulsa’s Creek Indian heritage. The better-known park is Creek Nation Council Oak, at West 18th Street and South Cheyenne Avenue, with the oak tree where legend says Indians, led by Chief Yahola, first camped. It has a large statue commemorating that first council fire.
Across West 18th Street is a newer small park, Creek Stickball Field, with bronze statues celebrating a favorite game of Creek men. Both parks are 1.8 acres.
For many small parks, history is mystery.