If you asked most Lubbock residents who were here in the late 1960s and early 70s what changed Lubbock the most, their answer would probably be the deadly 1970 tornado. It was, and still is, one of the worst tornadoes in Texas history.
On May 11th, the mile-wide twister ripped right through this area. And rising from the rubble to honor the 26 killed in the storm, the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center was built. It was the cornerstone of efforts to rebuild the entire city.
The Civic Center was the highest profiled and most expensive project in the multi-million dollar downtown urban renewal effort following the F5 tornado which hit at 9:35 p.m. Five hundred people were injured and approximately 25 square miles of the city were either damaged or destroyed, including 430 homes that were demolished and thousands more were damaged. The final damage toll of $250 million made it, up to that point, the costliest tornado in U.S. history.
It is also believed that this is the only F5 tornado ever to directly strike a skyscraper. The former Great Plains Life Building was physically twisted, although it was repaired and still stands today as the NTS Tower. In fact, if you stand at the corner of that building and look straight up, you can still see a slight twist.
Rubble from the 1970 tornado is buried underneath several large, rolling hills that surrounding the Ranching Heritage Center located at 4th & Indiana.
National Ranching Heritage Center