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Center of the Universe

The Center of the Universe has to be somewhere. Why not in the middle of downtown Tulsa? It doesn’t look like much, just a worn piece of pavement made out of 13 bricks arranged in a circle. It’s accessible via a brick pathway at the corner of West Archer Street and North Boston Avenue. The pathway leads to a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks, and straight to the Center of the Universe.

Center of the Universe

It’s about the sound

You might want to bring some small objects to drop or some audio to play. You see, the interesting thing about the Center of the Universe is not what it looks like; it’s how it sounds. If you stand on the worn spot in the middle of the brick circle and make some kind of noise, say by dropping a pin or burping the alphabet, the sound echoes back at you, highly magnified. At the same time, people standing just a few feet away, outside the brick circle, will hear nothing but a muffled, distorted noise that barely resembles its source.

Despite years of study, no one is quite sure what features are causing the phenomenon. It might have something to do with the parabolic shape of the concrete slabs surrounding the circle.

An acoustic mystery was not part of the plan when this area was constructed in the 1980s. It’s a large, open plaza positioned directly over the railroad tracks. The brick circle appears to be just a decorative feature some architect added on a whim. The concrete slabs are parts of the old bridge that were left intact.

The original bridge over the railroad tracks burned down in the 1980s and was replaced with the current structure. It provides pedestrian access between downtown Tulsa and the Greenwood district. Concrete pillars block vehicles from entering the plaza. The circle of bricks is located directly over one of the bridge’s expansion joints and may have been created in an effort to conceal the joint.

The Center of the Universe was immortalized in film

This area in Tulsa was prominently featured in the 2022 TV series Tulsa King starring Sylvester Stallone. Stallone plays a mafia boss who is released from prison and tries to start a new crime organization in Tulsa. The Center of the Universe’s existence and its peculiar sound properties were used as a comedic element in the series and as a way to reveal more about the central character’s personality.

While you are shouting and dropping things inside the brick circle, you can admire the huge “Artificial Cloud” sculpture created by Native American artist Robert Haozous, which is located in the same plaza. Once you have finished investigating the acoustic marvel, you can then proceed to the north and enter the Brady Arts District, which is loaded with art galleries, theaters, and other places of interest.

Future upgrades

The city of Tulsa plans to upgrade the area soon, installing more seating and awnings to provide protection from the weather. The structure of the bridge will be upgraded to ensure it remains standing. However, the essential features of the plaza and its acoustic mystery will remain intact for future generations to explore and marvel at.

If you like checking out cool tourist attractions like this one, you’ll love the Golden Driller Statue.