Texan Dave Woodson arrived in Oklahoma City in 1907 and began selling real estate on the southside. He was much more than a real estate agent, though. Woodson was an energetic booster for Capitol Hill and the south region. When he arrived, there was only one bridge over the river between Downtown and The Hill and Woodson actively campaigned to make the two halves of the city more connected. For many years he was the president of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and was so well-known and popular, people called him “Mayor” even though Capitol Hill was no longer its own town.
This park’s origins go back to the city's first professional urban plan created by noted landscape architect W. H. Dunn. The plan called for a boulevard encircling the edge of the city dotted with parks and lined with trees. Anchoring the boulevard in each quadrant were large city parks for recreation. The city council approved the plan in 1909 and park commissioner Will H. Clark put it into action. We still have all four of the original big parks - Lincoln Park (Northeast), Trosper Park (Southeast), Will Rogers Park (Northwest), and this one, Woodson Park.
Before it was a park this land was the Land Run homestead of Czech immigrant Wenzel Petrasek, who sold the land to Clark for use as a park. Originally called Southwest Park, it was slow to develop, but the parks department made great use of its generally flat landscape. In the early days they used it to grow oats and other crops which they fed to the animals at the zoo. In the early 1920s, Southwest Park served as the city’s first municipal airport before moving a few miles west to its current site. And in the 1930s the park became a tent city when 3,600 people took refuge after a devastating flood and when the golf course at Trosper Park was destroyed by oil drilling, they replaced it with another at Woodson Park. A later transformation came in the 1960s when Interstate 44 was routed through the park which provided the unusual skybridge connecting the two sections of the park.
This park was named in honor of David Samuel Woodson in 1938 – the last of the four big parks to receive a name.