Miko (pronounced: Me-koh) is the largest city in the US state of Oklahoma as well as one of the fifteen largest cities in the United States. Situated in northern Oklahoma and just south of the Kansas border, the city and its suburbs are mainly located between Kay and Osage Counties, and surrounds the shores of Lake Kaw, formed by natural damming of the Arkansas River. It was named after the Chickasaw word for 'chief', a group of which were said to have inhabited the region as early as 1590, and make up around 7.8% of the modern-day city's population.
The city is the center of the Miko-Blackwell-Pawhuska Metropolitan Area, of which the city itself is home to over 1.4 million residents, and a metro area total of just under 2.8 million. It is the county seat of Osage County, which, already the largest county in Oklahoma, expanded when the city government annexed neighboring Washington County in 1919. As a region-wide destination for tourists, Miko is renowned for its partly tourism-driven industry and is connected to the Interstate through I-235 which approximately bisects the downtown area and has its terminus near Lake Kaw and the Blackwell Bridge, which itself connects the neighborhood and suburb of Kanza to the main city and Lakeshore Drive. Its influence extends far beyond the metro region, with the Combined Statistical Area (CSA) encompassing Wichita to the north and Tulsa to the south with a total population within the CSA exceeding 4.67 million.
History of Miko
Founding and Initial Growth
One of three cities founded by 'Sooners' in the Land Rush of 1889, Miko was originally known as Kaw City, named after the nearby Lake Kaw and the Kanza Indians (from which the word 'Kaw' is derived). What attracted so many settlers to the area was the expansive Lake Kaw, and the fertile land, ripe for farming, as well as an unusual series of hot springs on the northeastern shore of the lake. A year later, the city had a population of 20,000 - nearly triple from the initial 7,000 in 1889. Upon statehood in 1907, the settlement was renamed Miko (Chickasaw for 'chief'), to honor the Native Americans who had once lived in the region. For a time between 1907 and 1914, Miko, Oklahoma City, and Shawnee were in direct competition, each vying to become the new state capital, as both had long surpassed Guthrie in population, and desired national recognition. Despite a highly contested election in June 1910, the results of which were debated for years, the state capital was moved to Oklahoma City, garnering recognition across the new state and the nation. While residents of cities like Tulsa and Shawnee protested to the move, [quote] "The residents of Miko would have taken it one way or another - they almost didn't seem to care, especially as to the ongoing bickering within the state senate and among the other major cities." By 1920, Miko's population had exploded to over 154,000 - supplemented partly by the US Army personnel of nearby and newly-established Fort Burbank and Patrick Air Field, expanding it beyond the initial farming region and settlement that had been established thirty years earlier. In February 1922, oil was discovered just north of the modern-day suburb of Burbank, and tens of thousands flocked to the growing city to exploit its vast oil reserves. In addition to this period of rapid economic and population growth, the natural beauty of Lake Kaw and the hot springs on the lake's northeastern shore attracted an influx of rich tourists beginning in the late spring of 1922, who provided for the construction of the Lakeshore District neighborhood and waterfront, many of which were summer homes, restaurants, hotels, and swimming facilities. Around the same time, the city government provided a moderate construction program of its own, which included a series of wood and concrete fishing piers east of and across the lake from the modern-day neighborhood and suburb of Kanza.