The historic Deep Deuce District, located just north of the Bricktown Entertainment District in Oklahoma City, is centered around Northeast 2nd Street. Deep Deuce was formed around the turn of the 20th century as an African-American neighborhood. By the 1920s, the 300 block of Northeast 2nd Street had become a bustling cultural and commercial center. The district flourished with a variety of beauty shops, restaurants, clothiers, a newspaper, movie theater and cab company, as well as parades, street dances and New Orleans-style funerals.
The area is also rich in jazz, blues and literary as well. Originally known as “Deep Second,” this district was similar to Harlem in the 1930s, producing legendary artists such as electric jazz guitarist Charlie Christian and big band blues singer Jimmy Rushing. Deep Deuce was also home to Ralph Ellison, the legendary novelist, essayist and cultural critic who electrified the world with his 1952 novel, Invisible Man, which remains one of the most important works of American literature. At night, Deep Deuce came alive with various nightclubs, dance halls, supper clubs and live music venues such as Slaughter’s Hall, Ruby’s Grill and the famous Aldridge Theater, which opened in 1919. During the late 1920s and 1930s, Deep Deuce had become the hottest jazz and blues mecca in the region.
Deep Deuce attracted not only musical artists, but also African-American professionals. Sydney Lyons of East Indian Toilet Goods Mfg. Co., the second-largest African-American hair product company in the world, had his offices in Deep Deuce as well as Dr. William Lewis Haywood, founder of the first African-American hospital in Oklahoma City. Roscoe Dunjee, founder of the Black Dispatch newspaper produced his news out of the area and Dr. Wyatt H. Slaughter was an architect, builder, entrepreneur and the first African-American doctor to live in Oklahoma.
After the civil rights movement of the 1960s, many of the district’s residents dispersed to other areas within Oklahoma City. Today, the district is framed by I-235 on the east (however the original Deep Deuce extended east of the current highway), Northeast 4th to the north and railroad tracks to both the west and south. The area is home to many delicious restaurants, clubs, art spaces and hotels, many of which are in the original buildings from the 1920s and 30s. Its location near downtown Oklahoma City makes it an ideal place to visit while in the metro area.