W.P. "Bill" Atkinson bought land in the area that would become Midwest City after hearing speculation that an air field was going to be built nearby. The city, which was incorporated on March 11, 1943, was named for the air field's original designation as the Midwest Air Depot. When Major General Clarence L. Tinker of Pawhuska, Oklahoma became the first American general killed in World War II (June 7, 1942) near Wake Island, the airfield was renamed in his honor.
Seward Mott, the director of the Federal Housing Administration's Land Planning Division, helped design the city, gaining national print and broadcast attention, and it became a model for postwar community development. The city incorporated the Mishak community of Czech and German immigrants that had formed in what now is the southeast part of the city.
In 1947, returning veteran Nicholas Harroz opened Nick's Brett Drive Grocery, which later became Crest Discount Foods. Soon after its opening, Midwest City citizens opted for a charter-council-city manager form of government to better manage their rapid growth.
Midwest City's regional hospital was dedicated October 6, 1962, built with the use of bond money. Voters also approved the creation of a junior college district in 1968. Oscar Rose Junior College opened its doors to students in 1970 and is now known as Rose State College. The Heritage Park Mall opened in 1978 on North Air Depot and was a prime shopping area in the city for several decades. The first Sam's Club was opened in Midwest City on April 7, 1983.
In the early 1970s, the Glenwood Addition subdivision, just north of the TAFB runway, was purchased from individual owners with funds raised in a county-wide bond election after plane crashes in the area killed several civilians and military crewmen. Eight hundred and thirty five homes were moved and an elementary school was closed. The former subdivision is fenced off and used for storage and training exercises for TAFB personnel.
Portions of Midwest City, particularly northwest of Tinker Air Force Base, sustained extreme damage from a violent tornado that swept through the southern and eastern areas of the Oklahoma City metro on May 3, 1999. While it produced F5 damage in South Oklahoma City, damage in Midwest City was rated F4 with numerous destroyed homes and three fatalities. Another strong tornado struck almost exactly the same area four years later on May 8, 2003.
City officials worked to revitalize S.E. 29th Street in the early 21st century, leading to the development of a new Town Center Plaza shopping area that faces Interstate 40 and Tinker Air Force Base. The Town Center Plaza development replaced an aging, largely deserted Atkinson Plaza shopping center. In 2003, the Reed Center, a 60,000-square-foot convention center, was built.