Tulsa, Oklahoma to Rename Controversial Street After Photographer Mathew Brady


There will soon be one more road in the United States named after a famous photographer. The city council in Tulsa, Oklahoma has voted to change the namesake of its “Brady street” from Wyatt Tate Brady to Mathew B. Brady.

Wyatt Tate was the founder of Tulsa, but also a racist and a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Matthew B. was one of the best known 19th century American photographers who documented the American Civil War.

The photographer Brady is also widely known as being one of the fathers of photojournalism. Here are some of his well-known images:





Council members approved the name change this past week with a 7-1 vote after weeks of debate and controversy among city residents. One of the benefits of changing the namesake to a different Brady — the council was previously considering the name Burlington — is that the name of the street won’t need to change for the businesses found on it.

Local news channel KJRH writes that the city doesn’t have any direct links to Mathew Brady, who photographed 18 presidents during his career. However, council member Blake Ewing says that the new name will pay homage to the photographer, since it’s found in a district that promotes the arts.

Despite his influential work and connections to the United States government, Brady died poor and alone after pouring his life and resources into his work. Wikipedia states,

During the war, Brady spent over $100,000 to create over 10,000 plates. He expected the U.S. government to buy the photographs when the war ended, but when the government refused to do so he was forced to sell his New York City studio and go into bankruptcy. Congress granted Brady $25,000 in 1875, but he remained deeply in debt. Depressed by his financial situation, loss of eyesight and devastated by the death of his wife in 1887, he became very lonely. He died penniless in the charity ward of Presbyterian Hospital in New York City on January 15, 1896, from complications following a streetcar accident.

There’s at least one person who’s extremely happy about the change. NewsOn6 writes that founder Keya Morgan — a California resident — is happy to see someone paying tribute to the legendary photographer:

There’s not too many schools or bridges named after him, and that’s because he was an artist and historian, and artists and historians don’t get the same attention that pop stars get. Everybody knows the name Justin Beiber, but how many people know the name Mathew Brady? […] He thought that his nation and everyone had forsaken him and forgotten him and it definitely makes me very proud and happy that you guys named a street after him in Oklahoma, that’s really cool.

The renaming process in Tulsa will be completed within the next few months, and will cost approximately $10,000 in private funds.

Thanks for sending in the tip, Mark!

  • InTheMist

    So, it costs $10,000 to NOT change the name of the street?

  • gochugogi

    There’s plenty of overhead involved with surveys, research, meetings, etc. You government at work…

  • madmax

    Stupid. That time everybody was racist. Culture changes and it is not a bad thing, but that man was the founder of the city.

  • George Fried

    I disagree. It’s not that he was simply a product of the times, he was a member of the KKK.

    It’s one thing to be a racist. It’s another to terrorize others simply because of how they were born.

  • harumph

    Founding the city doesn’t automatically make one worthy of reverence. As a member of the KKK, WT Brady participated in the “Tulsa Outrage,” in which he and his band of Klan members abducted 17 members of the Industrial Workers of the World “at gunpoint and drove them to a deserted location west of town. The men were then, one by one, bound to a tree, whipped, then tarred and feathered.”

    Some people don’t deserve to be honored with a street name.

  • Branden Frederick

    No, I disagree. From now on it’s Brady Street, in honor of the Brady Bunch.

  • DesertandSeas

    They dodged that bullet didn’t they?
    Some clever googling and they managed to find a legitimate Brady to 1.) make themselves feel good, 2.) appease that disgusting element of Tulsa, and 3.) local small businesses won’t have to change address on forms-which is no small expense.