Berryhill is a small community in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, west of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and about four square miles (10 km²) in area. It is located south of the Arkansas River and north of W. 41st St. S., and between S. 71st W. Ave. and S. 47th W. Ave.
Berryhill has nine or ten churches, a store, a business or two, several creeks, and many hills. The creeks tend to flow into Berryhill Creek before emptying into the Arkansas River near the railroad tracks off W. 21st St. near S. 57th W. Ave., in an area which will soon become part of the Gilcrease Expressway. Most of the homes directly east of S. 57th W. Ave and west of S. 55th W. Ave. have already been demolished and the first phase, the Gilcrease Expressway Extension, has been finished for several years.
The most important (for residents) and recognizable hill in the valley is Victory Hill, located just east and towering over the Berryhill Football Field. This hill is said to have some significance to the earliest inhabitants of Berryhill. Other hills have equal cultural significance to those from Berryhill. Cowbell Hill has been the scene of repeated fatal car accidents for travellers on S. 49th W. Ave.
The most famous hill in Berryhill is Chandler Park. Located in Berryhill and next to Chandler Park was a Superfund clean-up site. The United States Environmental Protection Agency set up monitors to record exposure atop school buildings at Berryhill. The old refinery and the trash-to-energy plant between downtown Tulsa and Berryhill contribute as sources of pollution, although improved technologies promise less destruction to the environment of Berryhill than in the past.
At first, the area was called Happy Hollow. Much of the land in Berryhill was originally owned by a Native American named Ryan Berryhill. The old, original parts of Berryhill, although containing some affluent members, were mainly working class, blue-collar families with high hopes for their children.
Both economic classes were attracted by the comparatively rural culture of Berryhill as opposed to the urbanization going on in Tulsa, as well as the fact that there was an abundance of manufacturing jobs in nearby West Tulsa.
Berryhill's rural culture is best described as the 1950s. This quality of Berryhill insulates one from the more stark reality of the modern world. Serious violent crime is very rare, like in many other small towns. The rural ethnic of the Ozarks and Boomer/Sooner spirit predominates the cultural orientation for most residents. Many have a great deal of pride in Native American heritage and culture as well.
Berryhill was not able to generate enough mail to establish a post office, and certain laws governing the geography of townships in Oklahoma prevent the community from ever becoming a town. This meant that the independent school district became the focus of the community.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, echoing cultural changes across the country, a marginalized drug culture grew among some of the families in Berryhill. Drinking was long a normal part of the local culture, usually reserved for the men who would slip over to the bars on Southwest Boulevard. Other drugs, especially marijuana, gained acceptance, especially with rebellious youth who wanted to strike out against the rigid class system at Berryhill.
In the 1980s, drug use seemed to leap across the traditional class structure. Parents desperate to save troubled youths transfer their student to Berryhill Schools, hoping the rural atmosphere would help. In fact, the new students from the city served to introduce new ideas of what was cool to the social elite, including rap music, trendy apparel, and use.
In 1982, the city of Tulsa proposed to extend its city limits to surround Berryhill. However, vigorous opposition by Berryhill residents and some Tulsa officials (e.g., Police Chief Harry Stege and City Engineer Harold Miller) resulted in leaving Berryhill outside the Tulsa line.
Post Rolling Oaks
The development of the Rolling Oaks area in the 1980s and 1990s, enabled affluent families to enjoy Sand Springs sanitary system, as opposed to the septic system used by most of the residents of Berryhill. Also, many parents sought the more-individualized attention to students the Berryhill school district offered.
Eventually, the increase of well-to-do families on the hills over S. 65th W. Ave. led to other developments in Berryhill. Recent developments include an expansion of W. 41st St. into four lanes between S. 57th W. Ave. to SH-97 in Prattville, Oklahoma (Sand Springs), and construction of several new commercial buildings including a Tulsa Community College campus, National Guard facility, a bank, and a carwash.