We will be celebrating our 31st anniversary since the opening of the Crystal Bridge and Myriad Gardens on Monday, March 25 with free admission from 9am-5pm. 

Compiled by Ken Raymond, The Oklahoman

mbg_history_I.M. Pei, 1965


  • Renowned architect I.M. Pei is commissioned by city leaders, including oil and gas pioneer Dean A. McGee, to create a revitalization plan for downtown Oklahoma City. Pei includes in his plan a garden area modeled after the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark.


  • On May 5, the name “Myriad Gardens” officially is adopted. On Aug. 11, the city council establishes a 19-member Myriad Development Task Force with the goal of planning, programming and implementing the gardens. Where did the name come from? If you are new to our city, across the street from the Gardens used to sit the Myriad, a 13,000-seat arena (the arena still exists as part of the Cox Convention Center).


  • After a national competition, the task force chooses an architect: the New York firm of Conklin & Rossant.



  • Oklahoma City purchases the land for the Myriad Gardens for $900,000. Buildings on the land include the Biltmore Hotel, the City National Bank Building and the Oklahoma Club. Investment in the development phase is about $1.2 million. On Sept. 16, the Myriad Gardens Authority, a public trust, is established to develop the 17-acre property. McGee is appointed Trust Chairman


.biltmore implosion


  • On Oct. 16, the Biltmore Hotel is destroyed to make way for the gardens. The 26-story building is demolished by 900 explosive charges. Work on the site officially begins Nov. 17 with a ceremonial groundbreaking.



  • The garden’s infrastructure is built, including the base of the cylindrical conservatory, tunnel and other core facilities. Oklahoma City-based RGDC, a structural engineering firm, heads the project.


  • The Myriad Gardens Foundation is formed to raise private funds for the construction of the conservatory. Oklahoma City-based architectural firm HTB is hired to design and landscape the west perimeter.


duringconstruction3.jpg photo by DougLoudenback


  • Construction of the conservatory begins in September.



  • The conservatory is completed.


  • The Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department takes over the operation and maintenance of the gardens.


Mike Bush

Mike Bush


  • On March 21, The Oklahoman notes that “since construction (of the Crystal Bridge) began in 1983, it has been alternately praised as a new beginning for downtown and condemned as a massive waste of money” that “cost more than $7 million in public and private funds.” Four days later, on March 25, the bridge opens to the public. It is filled with exotic plants acquired by Director Mike Bush. By late August, the bridge has attracted more than 200,000 visitors.

mbg_history_allan storjohann


  • Allan Storjohann, former division head of agriculture technologies at OSU-OKC, is named manager of the Myriad Gardens. He retired in 2010.


  • An outdoor specialty garden is completed to the north of the Crystal Bridge.


  • A second specialty garden is completed on the northeast corner of the gardens. Both specialty gardens are funded by The Herman and LaDonna Meinders Foundation.


  • The Dean A. McGee Center opens for public use. The 5,000-square-foot multiuse and meeting facility is funded by the Myriad Gardens Foundation.



  • In December, an ice storm blankets the state. Several trees at the gardens topple or suffer damage. In the aftermath, multiple trees have to be removed.

Myriad Gardens Construction May 25 2010 Flickr Photo Sharing


  • A $30 million makeover of Myriad Gardens is nearly complete. The upgrade includes a restaurant, ice skating rink, amphitheater, children’s play area and a small dog park. On June 1, the city council approves a 25-year contract with the Myriad Gardens Foundation to manage and operate the gardens.
  • Maureen Heffernan hired at Executive Director

ULI Awards in San Francisco



Compiled by Ken Raymond, NewsOK.

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