|Wichita, Kansas - from Wikipedia
Wichita (/?w?t??t??/ WITCH-i-taw) is the largest city
in the U.S. state of Kansas. Located in south-central Kansas on the Arkansas
River, Wichita is the county seat of Sedgwick County and the principal
city of the Wichita metropolitan area whose estimated population in 2015
was 644,610. As of 2017, the city of Wichita had an estimated population
The city began as a trading post on the Chisholm Trail
in the 1860s and was incorporated in 1870. It subsequently became a destination
for cattle drives north from Texas to railroads, earning it the nickname
"Cowtown". In the 1920s and 1930s, businessmen and aeronautical engineers
established aircraft manufacturing companies in Wichita including Beechcraft,
Cessna, and Stearman Aircraft. The city transformed into a hub of U.S.
aircraft production and became known as "The Air Capital of the World".
Textron Aviation, Learjet, Airbus and Spirit AeroSystems continue to operate
design and manufacturing facilities in Wichita, and the city remains a
major center of the U.S. aircraft industry. Wichita is also home to McConnell
Air Force Base.
As an industrial hub and the largest city in the state,
Wichita is an area center of culture, media, and trade. It hosts several
large museums, theaters, parks, and entertainment venues, notably Intrust
Bank Arena. Wichita State University is the third largest in the state.
Wichita is also home to the Century II Performing Arts & Convention
Center and Kansas's largest airport, Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National
Main articles: History of Wichita, Kansas and Timeline
of Wichita, Kansas
Archaeological evidence indicates human habitation near
the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers, the site of
present-day Wichita, as early as 3000 B.C. In 1541, a Spanish expedition
led by explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado found the area populated
by the Quivira, or Wichita, people. Conflict with the Osage in the 1750s
drove the Wichita further south. Prior to American settlement of the region,
the site was located in the territory of the Kiowa. Claimed first by France
as part of Louisiana and later acquired by the United States with the Louisiana
Purchase in 1803, it became part of Kansas Territory in 1854 and then the
state of Kansas in 1861.
The Wichita returned in 1864 due to the American Civil
War and established a settlement on the banks of the Little Arkansas. During
this period, trader Jesse Chisholm established a trading post at the site,
one of several along a trail extending south to Texas which became known
as the Chisholm Trail. After the war, the Wichita permanently relocated
south to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma).
In 1868, trader James R. Mead established another trading
post at the site, and surveyor Darius Munger built a house for use as a
hotel, community center, and post office. Business opportunities attracted
area hunters and traders, and a new settlement began to form. That summer,
Mead and others organized the Wichita Town Company, naming the settlement
after the Wichita tribe. In 1870, Munger and German immigrant William "Dutch
Bill" Greiffenstein filed plats laying out the city's first streets. Wichita
formally incorporated as a city on July 21, 1870.
Wichita's position on the Chisholm Trail made it a destination
for cattle drives traveling north from Texas to access railroads which
led to markets in eastern U.S. cities. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe
Railway reached the city in 1872. As a result, Wichita became a railhead
for the cattle drives, earning it the nickname "Cowtown". Across the Arkansas
River, the town of Delano became a popular entertainment destination for
cattlemen thanks to its saloons, brothels, and lack of law enforcement.
The area had a reputation for violence until local lawmen, Wyatt Earp among
them, began to assertively police the cowboys. By the end of the decade,
the cattle trade had moved west to Dodge City. Wichita annexed Delano in
Rapid immigration resulted in a speculative land boom
in the late 1880s, stimulating further expansion of the city. Fairmount
College, which eventually grew into Wichita State University, opened in
1886; Garfield University, which eventually became Friends University,
opened in 1887. By 1890, Wichita had become the third-largest city in the
state after Kansas City and Topeka with a population of nearly 24,000.
After the boom, however, the city entered an economic recession, and many
of the original settlers went bankrupt.
In 1914 and 1915, deposits of oil and natural gas were
discovered in nearby Butler County. This triggered another economic boom
in Wichita as producers established refineries, fueling stations, and headquarters
in the city. By 1917, there were five operating refineries in Wichita with
another seven built in the 1920s. The careers and fortunes of future oil
moguls Archibald Derby, who later founded Derby Oil, and Fred C. Koch,
who established what would become Koch Industries, both began in Wichita
during this period.
The money generated by the oil boom enabled local entrepreneurs
to invest in the nascent airplane manufacturing industry. In 1917, Clyde
Cessna built his Cessna Comet in Wichita, the first aircraft built in the
city. In 1920, two local oilmen invited Chicago aircraft builder Emil "Matty"
Laird to manufacture his designs in Wichita, leading to the formation of
the Swallow Airplane Company. Two early Swallow employees, Lloyd Stearman
and Walter Beech, went on to found two prominent Wichita-based companies,
Stearman Aircraft in 1926 and Beechcraft in 1932, respectively. Cessna,
meanwhile, started his own company in Wichita in 1927. The city became
such a center of the industry that the Aeronautical Chamber of Commerce
dubbed it the "Air Capital of the World" in 1929.
Throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries, several other
prominent businesses and brands had their origins in Wichita. A. A. Hyde
founded health care products maker Mentholatum in Wichita in 1889. Sporting
goods and camping gear retailer Coleman started in the city in the early
1900s. A number of fast food franchises started in Wichita in the 1950s
and 1960s including Pizza Hut in 1958. In the 1970s and 1980s, the city
became a regional center of health care and medical research.
Boeing B-29 assembly line (1944)
|Over the following decades, aviation and aircraft manufacturing
continued to drive expansion of the city. In 1934, Stearman's Wichita facilities
became part of Boeing which would become the city's largest employer. Initial
construction of Wichita Municipal Airport finished southeast of the city
in 1935. During World War II, the site hosted Wichita Army Airfield and
Boeing Airplane Company Plant No. 1. The city experienced a population
explosion during the war when it became a major manufacturing center for
the Boeing B-29 bomber. In 1951, the U.S. Air Force announced plans to
assume control of the airport to establish McConnell Air Force Base. By
1954, all non-military air traffic had shifted to the new Wichita Mid-Continent
Airport west of the city. In 1962, Lear Jet Corporation opened with its
plant adjacent to the new airport.
The original Pizza Hut building,
which was moved to the campus
of Wichita State University (2004)
Wichita has been a focal point of national political controversy
multiple times in its history. In 1900, famous temperance extremist Carrie
Nation struck in Wichita upon learning the city was not enforcing Kansas's
prohibition ordinance. The Dockum Drug Store sit-in took place in the city
in 1958 with protesters pushing for desegregation. In 1991, thousands of
anti-abortion protesters blockaded and held sit-ins at Wichita abortion
clinics, particularly the clinic of George Tiller. Tiller was later killed
in Wichita by an extremist in 2009.
Except for a slow period in the 1970s, Wichita has continued
to grow steadily into the 21st century. In the late 1990s and 2000s, the
city government and local organizations began collaborating to re-develop
downtown Wichita and older neighborhoods in the city. Intrust Bank Arena
opened downtown in 2010.
Boeing ended its operations in Wichita in 2014. However,
the city remains a national center of aircraft manufacturing with other
companies including Spirit AeroSystems and Airbus maintaining facilities
Wichita Mid-Continent Airport was officially renamed Wichita
Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport after the Kansas native and U.S.
President in 2015.
Downtown Wichita is located at 37°41'20"N 97°20'10"W
(37.688888, -97.336111) at an elevation of 1,299 feet (396 m). Wichita
is located in south-central Kansas at the junction of Interstate 35 and
U.S. Route 54. Located in the Midwestern United States, it is 157 mi (253
km) north of Oklahoma City, 181 mi (291 km) southwest of Kansas City, and
439 mi (707 km) east-southeast of Denver.
The city lies on the Arkansas River near the western edge
of the Flint Hills in the Wellington-McPherson Lowlands region of the Great
Plains. The topography of the area is characterized by the broad alluvial
plain of the Arkansas River valley and the moderately rolling slopes which
rise to the higher lands on either side.
The Arkansas follows a winding course, south-southeast
through Wichita, roughly bisecting the city. It is joined along its course
by several tributaries all of which flow generally south. The largest is
the Little Arkansas River, which enters the city from the north and joins
the Arkansas immediately west of downtown. Further east lies Chisholm Creek
which joins the Arkansas in the far southern part of the city. The Chisholm's
own tributaries drain much of the city's eastern half; these include the
creek's West, Middle, and East Forks as well as, further south, Gypsum
Creek. The Gypsum is fed by its own tributary, Dry Creek. Two more of the
Arkansas' tributaries lie west of its course; from east to west, these
are Big Slough Creek and Cowskin Creek. Both streams run south through
the western part of the city. Fourmile Creek, a tributary of the Walnut
River, flows south through the far eastern part of the city.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city
has a total area of 163.59 sq mi (423.70 km2), of which 159.29 sq mi (412.56
km2) is land and 4.30 sq mi (11.14 km2) is water.
As the core of the Wichita metropolitan area, the city
is surrounded by suburbs. Bordering Wichita on the north are, from west
to east, Valley Center, Park City, Kechi, and Bel Aire. Enclosed within
east-central Wichita is Eastborough. Adjacent to the city's east side is
Andover. McConnell Air Force Base is in the extreme southeast corner of
the city. To the south, from east to west, are Derby and Haysville. Goddard
and Maize border Wichita to the west and northwest, respectively.
Wichita lies in the northern limits of North America's
humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen Cfa), typically experiencing
hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters. Located on the Great Plains,
far from any large moderating influences such as mountains or large bodies
of water, Wichita often experiences severe weather with thunderstorms occurring
frequently during the spring and summer months. These occasionally bring
large hail as well as frequent lightning, and tornadoes sometimes occur.
Particularly destructive tornadoes have struck the Wichita area several
times in the course of its history: in September 1965; during the Andover,
Kansas Tornado Outbreak of April 1991; and during the Oklahoma tornado
outbreak of May 1999. Winters are cold and dry; since Wichita is located
roughly midway between Canada and the Gulf of Mexico, cold spells and warm
spells are equally frequent. Warm air masses from the Gulf of Mexico can
raise mid-winter temperatures into the 50s and even 60s while cold air
masses from the Arctic can occasionally plunge the temperature below 0
°F. Wind speed in the city averages 13 mph (21 km/h). On average, January
is the coldest month, July is the hottest month, and June is the wettest
The average temperature in the city is 56.9 °F (13.8
°C). Over the course of a year, the monthly daily average temperature
ranges from 32.2 °F (0.1 °C) in January to 81.1 °F (27.3 °C)
in July. The high temperature reaches or exceeds 90 °F (32 °C)
an average of 62 days a year and 100 °F (38 °C) an average of 12
days a year. The minimum temperature falls to or below 10 °F (-12 °C)
on an average 8.5 days a year. The hottest temperature recorded in Wichita
was 114 °F (46 °C) in 1936; the coldest temperature recorded was
?22 °F (-30 °C) on February 12, 1899. Readings as low as -17 °F
(-27 °C) and as high as 111 °F (44 °C) occurred as recently
as February 10, 2011 and July 29–30, 2012, respectively.
During an average year, Wichita receives 32.69 inches
(830 mm) of precipitation, most of which falls in the warmer months, and
experiences 88 days of measurable precipitation. The average relative
humidity is 80% in the morning and 49% in the evening. Annual snowfall
averages 15.6 inches (40 cm). Measurable snowfall occurs an average of
ten days per year with at least an inch of snow being received on five
of those days. Snow depth of at least an inch occurs an average of 15 days
a year. The average window for freezing temperatures is October 26 through
Wichita has several recognized areas and neighborhoods.
The downtown area is generally considered to be east of the Arkansas River,
west of Washington Street, north of Kellogg and south of 13th Street. The
downtown area contains landmarks such as Century II, the Garvey Center,
and the Epic Center. Old Town is also part of downtown; this 50 acre area
is home to a cluster of night clubs, bars, restaurants, a movie theater,
shops, and apartments and condominiums, many of which make use of historical
The two most notable residential areas of Wichita are
Riverside and College Hill. Riverside is northwest of the downtown area,
across the Arkansas River, and surrounds the 120-acre (0.49 km2) Riverside
Park. College Hill is east of the downtown area, south of Wichita State
University. College Hill is one of the more historic neighborhoods, along
with Delano on the west side and Midtown in the north-central city.
Wichita's principal industrial sector is manufacturing,
which accounted for 21.6 percent of area employment in 2003. Aircraft manufacturing
has long dominated the local economy, and plays such an important role
that it has the ability to influence the economic health of the entire
region; the state offers tax breaks and other incentives to aircraft manufacturers.
Healthcare is Wichita's second-largest industry, employing
approximately 28,000 people in the local area. Since healthcare needs remain
fairly consistent regardless of the economy, this field was not subject
to the same pressures that affected other industries in the early 2000s.
The Kansas Spine Hospital opened in 2004, as did a critical care tower
at Wesley Medical Center. In July 2010, Via Christi Health, which is the
largest provider of healthcare services in Kansas, opened a hospital that
will serve the northwest area of Wichita. Via Christi Hospital on St. Teresa
is the system's fifth hospital to serve the Wichita community.
Thanks to the early 20th-Century oil boom in neighboring
Butler County, Kansas, Wichita became a major oil town, with dozens of
oil exploration companies and support enterprises. Most famous of these
was Koch Industries, today a global natural-resources conglomerate. The
city was also at one time the headquarters of the former Derby Oil Company,
which was purchased by Coastal Corporation in 1988.
Koch Industries and Cargill, the two largest privately
held companies in the United States, both operate headquarters facilities
in Wichita. Koch Industries' primary global corporate headquarters is located
in a large office-tower complex in northeast Wichita. Cargill Meat Solutions
Div., at one time the nation's 3rd-largest beef producer, is headquartered
downtown. Other firms with headquarters in Wichita include roller-coaster
manufacturer Chance Morgan, gourmet food retailer Dean & Deluca, renewable
energy company Alternative Energy Solutions, and Coleman Company, a manufacturer
of camping and outdoor recreation supplies. Air Midwest, the nation's first
officially certificated "commuter" airline, was founded and headquartered
in Wichita and evolved into the nation's 8th largest regional airline prior
to its dissolution in 2008.
As of 2013, 68.2% of the population over the age of 16
was in the labor force. 0.6% was in the armed forces, and 67.6% was in
the civilian labor force with 61.2% employed and 6.4% unemployed. The occupational
composition of the employed civilian labor force was: 33.3% in management,
business, science, and arts; 25.1% in sales and office occupations; 17.2%
in service occupations; 14.0% in production, transportation, and material
moving; 10.4% in natural resources, construction, and maintenance. The
three industries employing the largest percentages of the working civilian
labor force were: educational services, health care, and social assistance
(22.3%); manufacturing (19.2%); and retail trade (11.0%).
The cost of living in Wichita is below average; compared
to a U.S. average of 100, the cost of living index for the city is 84.0.
As of 2013, the median home value in the city was $117,500, the median
selected monthly owner cost was $1,194 for housing units with a mortgage
and $419 for those without, and the median gross rent was $690.
operate in the Wichita MSA, as well dozens of suppliers and
subcontractors to the local aircraft manufacturers. In total, Wichita and
its companies have manufactured an estimated 250,000 aircraft since Clyde
Cessna's first Wichita-built aircraft in 1916.
|From the early to late 20th century, aircraft pioneers
such as Clyde Cessna, "Matty" Laird, Lloyd Stearman, Walter Beech, Al Mooney
and Bill Lear began aircraft-manufacturing enterprises that would lead
to Wichita becoming the nation's leading city in numbers of aircraft produced.
The aircraft corporations E. M. Laird Aviation Company (the nation's first
successful commercial airplane manufacturer), Travel Air (started by Beech,
Stearman and Cessna), Stearman, Cessna, Beechcraft and Mooney were all
founded in Wichita between 1920 and early 1932. By 1931, Boeing (of Seattle,
Washington) had absorbed Stearman, creating "Boeing-Wichita", which would
eventually grow to become Kansas' largest employer.
Today, Cessna Aircraft Co. (the world's highest-volume
airplane manufacturer) and Beechcraft remain based in Wichita having merged
into Textron Aviation in 2014, along with Learjet and Boeing's chief subassembly
supplier, Spirit AeroSystems. Airbus maintains a workforce in Wichita,
and Bombardier (parent company of Learjet) has other divisions in Wichita
as well. Over 50 other aviation businesses
Over 10,000 Stearman (Boeing)
Model 75 trainer aircraft were built
during the 1930s and 1940s
In the early 2000s, a national and international recession
combined with the after effects of the November 9, 2001 terrorist attacks
to depress the aviation sub-sector in and around Wichita. Orders for new
aircraft plummeted, prompting Wichita's five largest aircraft manufacturers,
Boeing Co., Cessna Aircraft Co., Bombardier Learjet Inc., Hawker Beechcraft
and Raytheon Aircraft Co.—to slash a combined 15,000 jobs between 2001
and 2004. In response, these companies began developing small- and mid-sized
airplanes to appeal to business and corporate users. In 2007, Wichita built
977 aircraft, ranging from single-engine light aircraft to the world's
fastest civilian jet; one-fifth of the civilian aircraft produced in United
States that year, plus numerous small military aircraft. In early 2012,
Boeing announced it would be closing its Wichita plant by the end of 2013,
which paved the road for Spirit Aerosystems to open its plant.
Arts and music
Wichita is a cultural center for Kansas, home to several
art museums and performing arts groups. The Wichita Art Museum is the largest
art museum in the state of Kansas and contains 7,000 works in permanent
collections. The Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University is a
modern and contemporary art museum with over 6,300 works in its permanent
Small art galleries are scattered around the city with
some clustered in the districts of Old Town, Delano and south Commerce
street. These galleries started the Final Friday Gallery crawl event, where
visitors tour attractions free in the evening on the last Friday of each
month. Larger museums began participating and staying open late on Final
Fridays shortly after its beginning.
Wichita is the music hub of central Kansas, and draws
major acts from around the world, performing at various concert halls,
arenas and stadiums around the area. Most major rock'n'roll and pop-music
stars, and virtually all country music stars, perform there during their
Music Theatre Wichita, Wichita Grand Opera (both nationally
renowned), and the Wichita Symphony Orchestra perform regularly at the
Century II Convention Hall downtown. Concerts are also regularly performed
by the nationally noted schools of music at Wichita's two largest universities.
The Orpheum Theatre, built in 1922, serves as a downtown
venue for smaller shows.
Wichita is alleged to be the birthplace of the electric
guitar, the fuzz box, and other key innovations in rock'n'roll music.
The Wichita River Festival has been held in the Downtown
and Old Town areas of the city since 1972. It has featured events, musical
entertainment, sporting events, traveling exhibits, cultural and historical
activities, plays, interactive children's events, a flea market, river
events, a parade, block parties, a food court, fireworks, and souvenirs
for the roughly 370,000+ patrons who attend each year. In 2011, the festival
was moved from May to June because of rain during previous festivals.
The annual Wichita Black Arts Festival, held in the spring,
celebrates the arts, crafts and creativity of Wichita's large African-American
community. It usually takes place in Central-Northeast Wichita. A Juneteenth
event and parade also are common annual events.
The International Student Association at Wichita State
University presents an annual international cultural exhibition and food
festival, on the campus at WSU, providing an inexpensive sampling of global
culture and cuisine to the general public.
One or more large Renaissance fairs occur annually, including
the "RenFair" in conjunction with the "Kingdom of Calontir" of the SCA
(Society for Creative Anachronism). The fairs vary in length from one day
to a week, typically at Sedgwick County Park or Newman University.
The Wichita Public Library's Academy Awards Shorts program
is reportedly the oldest annual, complete, free public screening outside
of Hollywood of the full array of short films nominated for an Academy
Award ("Oscar"). In late winter, shortly before the Academy Awards ceremonies,
the films—including all nominated documentary, live action, and animated
shorts—are presented, free, at the Library and in local theaters and other
venues around Wichita. Wichita's former Congressman, Motion Picture Association
President Dan Glickman, has served as Honorary Chair of the event, and
some of the filmmakers have attended and visited with the audiences.
The Tallgrass Film Festival has been held in downtown
Wichita since 2003. It draws over 100 independent feature and short films
from all over the world for three days each October. Notable people from
the entertainment industry have attended in the past.
Aviation-related events are common in the Wichita area,
including air shows, fly-ins, air races, aviation conferences, exhibitions,
and trade shows. The city's two main air shows, which are generally held
in alternating years, are the city-sponsored civilian Wichita Flight Festival
(originally the "Kansas Flight Festival") and the military-sponsored McConnell
Air Force Base Open House and Airshow.[ Both are large regional air shows
with famous acts and multimillion-dollar aircraft displays (including many
Wichita-built aircraft). In addition, numerous local, regional, and national
aviation organizations host fly-ins, conferences, exhibitions and trade
shows in the Wichita area on irregular schedules.
Points of interest
Museums and landmarks devoted to science, culture, and
area history are located throughout the city. Several lie along the Arkansas
River west of downtown, including the Exploration Place science and discovery
center, the Mid-America All-Indian Center, the Old Cowtown living history
museum, and The Keeper of the Plains statue and its associated display
highlighting the daily lives of Plains Indians. The Wichita-Sedgwick County
Historical Museum in downtown Wichita occupies the original Wichita city
hall, built in 1892. The museum contains artifacts that tell the story
of Wichita and Sedgwick County starting from 1865 and continuing to the
present day.] Nearby is the 1913 Sedgwick County Memorial Hall and Soldiers
and Sailors Monument. East of downtown are the Museum of World Treasures
and railroad-oriented Great Plains Transportation Museum. The Coleman Factory
Outlet and Museum on 235 N St. Francis street is the home of the Coleman
Lantern and offers free admission. Wichita State University hosts the Lowell
D. Holmes Museum of Anthropology. The Kansas Aviation Museum, housed in
the Terminal and Administration building of the former Municipal Airport,
is located in southeast Wichita adjacent to McConnell Air Force Base.
Botanica, The Wichita Gardens, also located along the
Arkansas River, boasts 24 themed gardens including the popular Butterfly
Garden and the award-winning Sally Stone Sensory Garden. The Sedgwick County
Zoo in the northwest part of Wichita is the most popular outdoor tourist
attraction in the state of Kansas, and is home to more than 2,500 animals
representing 500 different species. The zoo is next to Sedgwick county
park and Sedgwick County Extension Arboretum.
Intrust Bank Arena is the city's primary event venue,
featuring 22 suites, 2 party suites, 40 loge boxes and over 300 premium
seats with a total potential capacity of over 15,000. This arena in the
middle of Wichita opened in January 2010.
Located immediately east of downtown is Old Town, the
city's entertainment district. In the early 1990s, developers transformed
it from an old warehouse district into a mixed-zone neighborhood with residential
space, nightclubs, restaurants, hotels, and museums.
Moody's Skidrow Beanery, at 625 E. Douglas in what was
to become Old Town, was one of the more famous places in Wichita in the
1960s. It was the scene of a nationally followed First Amendment struggle
and was visited by Allen Ginsberg in 1966 (the name had been changed to
the Magic Theatre Vortex Art Gallery) where he first read his long poem
"Wichita Vortex Sutra."
Wichita is also home to two major shopping malls: Towne
East Square and Towne West Square, on opposite ends of town, and each managed
by Simon Property Group. Each mall is home to four anchor stores, and has
more than 100 tenants apiece. The oldest mall, Wichita Mall, was for many
years largely a dead mall, but has since been converted into office space.
There are also two large outdoor shopping centers, Bradley Fair on the
city's north-east side and NewMarket Square on the city's north-west side,
each with over 50 stores spread out on several acres.
In 1936, the Wichita post office contained two oil-on-canvas
murals, Kansas Farming, painted by Richard Haines and Pioneer in Kansas
by Ward Lockwood. Murals were produced from 1934 to 1943 in the United
States through the Section of Painting and Sculpture, later called the
Section of Fine Arts, of the Treasury Department. The post office building
became the Federal Courthouse at 401 N. Market Street and the murals are
on display in the lobby.
Wichita has a number of beautiful parks and recreational
areas such as Riverside park, College Hill park, and McAdams park.
In popular culture and the arts
Wichita has developed a positive reputation in U.S. media
as an affordable and pleasant place to live. In July 2006, CNN/Money and
Money ranked Wichita ninth on their list of the 10 best U.S. big cities
in which to live. In 2008, MSN Real Estate ranked Wichita 1st on its list
of most affordable cities. Wichita was also named the most "Uniquely American"
city by Newsmax magazine in a May 2009 piece written by Peter Greenberg.
Wichita is mentioned in the songs "Wichita Skyline" by
Shawn Colvin, "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes, and "Captain Bobby
Stout" by local musician Jerry Hahn. Allen Ginsberg wrote about a visit
to Wichita in his poem Wichita Vortex Sutra, for which Philip Glass subsequently
wrote a solo piano piece. Glen Campbell's "Wichita Lineman", written by
Jimmy Webb, peaked at number 1 on Billboard's country singles chart and
at number 3 on the pop chart in 1968. Ruby Vroom, released by the band
Soul Coughing in 1994, contains a song called "True Dreams of Wichita".
Also, country trio Lady Antebellum recorded the song "Golden" for their
fifth studio album of the same name. The opening line of that song is "Sunset
falls on Wichita".
The city has been a setting of various works of fiction.
The award-winning stage play Hospitality Suite written by Roger Rueff takes
place in Wichita as does its 1999 film adaptation, The Big Kahuna. Wichita
(1955) and portions of Wyatt Earp (1994), both of which dramatize the life
and career of Wyatt Earp, are set in Wichita. The short-lived 1959–1960
television western Wichita Town was set during the city's early years.
Other films wholly or partially set in the city include Good Luck, Miss
Wyckoff (1979), Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), The Ice Harvest
(2005), and Knight and Day (2010). The city is also the setting of the
long-running comic strip Dennis the Menace.
AMD planned to release a new processor, code named Wichita,
in 2012, but the project was cancelled in favor of a newer design.
Wichita is home to several professional, semi-professional,
non-professional, and collegiate sports teams. Professional teams include
the Wichita Thunder ice hockey team, Wichita Force indoor football team,
and Wichita Wingnuts baseball team.
Defunct professionals teams which used to play in Wichita
include the Wichita Aeros and Wichita Wranglers baseball teams, the Wichita
Wings indoor soccer team, the Wichita Wind (farm team to the Edmonton Oilers
in the early 1980s) and the Wichita Wild indoor football team. Semi-pro
teams include Kansas Cougars and Kansas Diamondbacks football teams. Non-professional
teams include the Wichita Barbarians rugby union team and the Wichita World
11 cricket team. The city hosts the Air Capital Classic, a professional
golf tournament of the Web.com Tour first played in 1990.
Collegiate teams based in the city include the Wichita
State University Shockers, Newman University Jets, and the Friends University
Falcons. The WSU Shockers are NCAA Division I teams which compete in men's
and women's basketball, baseball, volleyball, track and field, tennis,
and bowling. The Newman Jets are NCAA Division II teams which compete in
baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, wrestling,
volleyball, and cheer/dance. The Friends Falcons compete in Region IV of
the NAIA in football, volleyball, soccer, cross country, basketball, tennis,
track and field, and golf.
Several sports venues are located in and around the city.
Intrust Bank Arena, located downtown, is a 15,000-seat multi-purpose arena
that is home to the Wichita Thunder and Wichita Force. Lawrence–Dumont
Stadium, located just west of downtown, is a medium-sized baseball stadium
that has been home to Wichita's various minor-league baseball teams over
the years. It is also home of the minor-league National Baseball Congress
and the site of the Congress's annual National Tournament.
Wichita Ice Arena, also just west of downtown, is a public
ice-skating rink used for ice-skating competitions. In addition, Century
II has been used for professional wrestling tournaments, sporting-goods
exhibitions, and other recreational activity. The WSU campus includes two
major venues: Eck Stadium, a medium-sized stadium with a full-sized baseball
field that is home to the WSU Shocker baseball team, and Charles Koch Arena,
a medium-sized, dome-roofed circular arena with a collegiate basketball
court that hosts the WSU Shocker basketball team. Koch Arena is also used
extensively for citywide and regional high school athletic events, concerts
and other entertainments. Located just north of the city is 81 Motor Speedway,
an oval motor-vehicle racetrack used extensively for a wide range of car,
truck and motorcycle races, and other motor sports events. Neighboring
Park City is home to Hartman Arena and the Sam Fulco Pavilions, a moderate-capacity
low-roofed arena developed for small rodeos, horse shows, livestock competitions,
In December 2017, Wichita's mayor announced plans to bring
a Minor League Baseball to the city. The Major League Baseball-affiliated
team would play in a planned new ball park.
Wichita is also home to two sports museums, the Kansas
Sports Hall of Fame and the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.
Under state statute, Wichita is a city of the first class.
Since 1917, it has had a council-manager form of government. The city council
consists of seven members popularly elected every four years with staggered
terms in office. For representative purposes, the city is divided into
six districts with one council member elected from each district. The mayor
is the seventh council member, elected at large. The council sets policy
for the city, enacts laws and ordinances, levies taxes, approves the city
budget, and appoints members to citizen commission and advisory boards.
The council meets each Tuesday. The city manager is the city's chief executive,
responsible for administering city operations and personnel, submitting
the annual city budget, advising the city council, preparing the council's
agenda, and oversight of non-departmental activities.
The Wichita Police Department, established in 1871, is
the city's law enforcement agency. With over 800 employees, including more
than 600 commissioned officers, it is the largest law enforcement agency
in Kansas. The Wichita Fire Department, organized in 1886, operates 22
stations throughout the city. Organized into four battalions, it employs
over 400 full-time firefighters.
As the county seat, Wichita is the administrative center
of Sedgwick County. The county courthouse is located downtown, and most
departments of the county government base their operations in the city.
Many departments and agencies of the U.S. Government have
facilities in Wichita. The Wichita U.S. Courthouse, located downtown, is
one of the three courthouses of the U.S. District Court for the District
of Kansas. The U.S. Air Force operates McConnell Air Force Base immediately
southeast of the city. The campus of the Robert J. Dole Department of Veterans
Affairs Medical and Regional Office Center is located on U.S. 54 in east
Wichita. Other agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
Food and Drug Administration, and Internal Revenue Service among others,
have offices in locations around the city.
Wichita lies within Kansas's 4th U.S. Congressional District.
For the purposes of representation in the Kansas Legislature, the city
is located in the 16th and 25th through 32nd districts of the Kansas Senate
and the 81st, 83rd through 101st, 103rd, and 105th districts of the Kansas
House of Representatives.
Primary and secondary education
With over 50,000 students, Wichita Public Schools (USD
259) is the largest school district in Kansas. It operates more than 90
schools in the city including 10 high schools, 16 middle schools, 61 elementary
schools, and more than a dozen special schools and programs. Outlying portions
of Wichita lie within suburban public school districts including Andover
(USD 385), Circle (USD 375), Derby (USD 260), Goddard (USD 265), Haysville
(USD 261), Maize (USD 266), and Valley Center (USD 262).
There are more than 35 private and parochial schools in
Wichita. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Wichita oversees 16 Catholic schools
in the city including 14 elementary schools and two high schools, Bishop
Carroll Catholic High School and Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School. The Lutheran
Church–Missouri Synod operates two Lutheran schools in the city, Bethany
Lutheran School (Grades PK-5) and Holy Cross Lutheran School (PK-8). There
are also two Seventh-day Adventist schools in Wichita, Three Angels School
(K-8) and Wichita Adventist Christian Academy (K-10). Other Christian schools
in the city are Calvary Christian School (PK-12), Central Christian Academy
(K-8), Sunrise Christian Academy (PK-12), Trinity Academy (9-12), Wichita
Friends School (PK-6), and Word of Life Traditional School (K-12). In addition,
there is an Islamic school, Anoor School (PK-8), operated by the Islamic
Society of Wichita. Non-religious private schools in the city include Wichita
Collegiate School and The Independent School as well as three Montessori
Colleges and universities
Three universities have their main campuses in Wichita.
The largest is Wichita State University (WSU), a public research university
classified by Carnegie as "R2: Doctoral Universities – Higher Research
Activity." WSU has more than 14,000 students and is the third-largest university
in Kansas. WSU's main campus is in northeast Wichita with four satellite
campuses located around the metro area. Friends University, a private,
non-denominational Christian university, has its main campus in west Wichita
as does Newman University, a private Catholic university. In addition,
Wichita Area Technical College, a two-year public college, has its main
campus and two satellite locations in the city.
Several colleges and universities based outside Wichita
operate satellite locations in and around the city. The University of Kansas
School of Medicine has one of its three campuses in Wichita. Baker University,
Butler Community College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Southwestern
College, Tabor College, Vatterott College, and Webster University have
Wichita facilities as do for-profit institutions including Heritage College
and University of Phoenix.
The Wichita Public Library is the city's library system,
presently consisting of a Central Library downtown and nine branch locations
in neighborhoods around the city. The library operates several free programs
for the public, including special events, technology training classes,
and programs specifically for adults, children, and families. As of 2009,
its holdings included more than 1.3 million books and 2.2 million items
The Wichita Eagle, which began publication in 1872, is
the city's major daily newspaper. With a daily circulation of over 67,000
copies, it has the highest circulation of any newspaper published in Kansas.
The Wichita Business Journal is a weekly newspaper that covers local business
events and developments. Several other newspapers and magazines, including
local lifestyle, neighborhood, and demographically-focused publications
are also published in the city. These include, among others: The Community
Voice, aimed at the city's African American community; the monthly East
Wichita News; F5, a weekly alternative newspaper; the Liberty Press, LGBT
news; Splurge!, a local fashion and lifestyle magazine; the Sunflower,
the WSU student newspaper. The Wichita media market also includes local
newspapers in several surrounding suburban communities.
The Wichita radio market includes Sedgwick County and
neighboring Butler and Harvey counties. Six AM and 18 FM radio stations
are licensed to and/or broadcast from the city.
Wichita is the principal city of the Wichita-Hutchinson,
Kansas television market which consists of the western two-thirds of the
state. All of the market's network affiliates broadcast from Wichita with
the ABC, CBS, CW, FOX and NBC affiliates serving the wider market through
state networks of satellite and translator stations. The city also hosts
a PBS member station, a Univision affiliate, and several low-power stations.
Cable television service for Wichita and the surrounding area is provided
by AT&T U-Verse and Cox Communications.
Wichita suffered severe floods of the Arkansas river in
1877, 1904, 1916, 1923, 1944, 1951 and 1955. In 1944 the city flooded 3
times in 11 days. As a result of the 1944 flood, the idea for the Wichita-Valley
Center Floodway (locally known as the "Big Ditch") was conceived. The project
was completed in 1958. The Big Ditch diverts part of the Arkansas River's
flow around west-central Wichita, running roughly parallel to the Interstate
235 bypass. A second flood control canal lies between the lanes of Interstate
135, running south through the central part of the city. Chisholm Creek
is diverted into this canal for most of its length. The city's flood defenses
were tested in the Great Flood of 1993. Flooding that year kept the Big
Ditch full for more than a month and caused $6 million of damage to the
flood control infrastructure. The damage was not fully repaired until 2007.
Several federal and state highways pass through Wichita.
Interstate 35, as the Kansas Turnpike, enters the city from the south and
turns northeast, running along the city's southeastern edge and exiting
through the eastern part of the city. Interstate 135 runs generally north-south
through the city, its southern terminus lying at its interchange with I-35
in south-central Wichita. Interstate 235, a bypass route, passes through
north-central, west, and south-central Wichita, traveling around the central
parts of the city. Both its northern and southern termini are interchanges
with I-135. U.S. Route 54 and U.S. Route 400 run concurrently through Wichita
as Kellogg Avenue, the city's primary east-west artery, with interchanges,
from west to east, with I-235, I-135, and I-35. U.S. Route 81, a north-south
route, enters Wichita from the south as Broadway, turns east as 47th Street
South for approximately half a mile, and then runs concurrently north with
I-135 through the rest of the city. K-96, an east-west route, enters the
city from the northwest, runs concurrently with I-235 through north-central
Wichita, turns south for approximately a mile, running concurrently with
I-135 before splitting off to the east and traveling around northeast Wichita,
ultimately terminating at an interchange with U.S. 54/U.S. 400 in the eastern
part of the city. K-254 begins at I-235's interchange with I-135 in north-central
Wichita and exits the city to the northeast. K-15, a north-south route,
enters the city from the south and joins I-135 and U.S. 81 in south-central
Wichita, running concurrently with them through the rest of the city. K-42
enters the city from the southwest and terminates at its interchange with
U.S. 54/U.S. 400 in west-central Wichita.
Wichita Transit operates 53 buses on 18 fixed bus routes
within the city. The organization reports over 2 million trips per year
(5,400 trips per day) on its fixed routes. Wichita Transit also operates
a demand response paratransit service with 320,800 passenger trips annually.
A 2005 study ranked Wichita near the bottom of the fifty largest American
cities in terms of percentage of commuters using public transit. Only 0.5%
used it to get to or from work.
Greyhound Lines provides intercity bus service northeast
to Topeka and south to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Bus service is provided
daily north towards Salina and west towards Pueblo, Colorado by BeeLine
Express (subcontractor of Greyhound Lines). The Greyhound bus station that
was built in 1961 at 312 S Broadway is closing in 2016, and services will
be relocated 1 block northeast to the Wichita Transit station at 777 E
The Wichita Airport Authority manages the city's two main
public airports, Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport and Colonel
James Jabara Airport. Located in the western part of the city, Wichita
Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport is the city's primary airport as
well as the largest airport in the state of Kansas. Five commercial airlines
(Allegiant, American, Delta, Southwest & United) serve Wichita Dwight
D. Eisenhower National Airport with non-stop flights to several U.S. airline
hubs. Jabara Airport is a general aviation facility located on the city's
northeast side. In addition, there are several privately owned airports
located throughout the city. Cessna Aircraft Field and Beech Factory Airport,
operated by manufacturers Cessna and Beechcraft, respectively, lie in east
Wichita. Two smaller airports, Riverside Airport and Westport Airport,
are located in west Wichita.
Two Class I railroads, BNSF Railway and Union Pacific
Railroad (UP), operate freight rail lines through Wichita. UP's OKT Line
runs generally north-south through the city; north of downtown, the line
consists of trackage leased to BNSF. An additional UP line enters the city
from the northeast and terminates downtown. BNSF's main line through the
city enters from the north, passes through downtown, and exits to the southeast,
paralleling highway K-15. The Wichita Terminal Association, a joint operation
between BNSF and UP, provides switching service on three miles (5 km) of
track downtown. In addition, two lines of the Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad
enter the city, one from the northwest and the other from the southwest,
both terminating at their junction in west-central Wichita.
Wichita has not had passenger rail service since 1979.
The nearest Amtrak station is in Newton 25 miles (40 km) north, offering
service on the Southwest Chief line between Los Angeles and Chicago. Amtrak
offers bus service from downtown Wichita to its station in Newton as well
as to its station in Oklahoma City, the northern terminus of the Heartland
Civic leaders and political figures
Wyatt Earp served as a lawman in several Western frontier
towns, including Wichita. He is best known for his part in the Gunfight
at the O.K. Corral and as one of the Old West's "toughest and deadliest
gunmen of his day".
Mike Pompeo, former Kansas Fourth Congressional District
Representative, Director of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, from the
Robert Gates, former Director of U.S. Central Intelligence
Agency, and Secretary of Defense, is a Wichita native, and graduate of
Dan Glickman, former Secretary of Agriculture, and former
head of the Motion Picture Association, began his political career in Wichita,
first on the school board, then as 4th District Congressman.
Koch family (particularly Charles and David Koch), prominent
American billionaires, libertarian and conservative political activists,
organizers and major donors, co-founders of the American Enterprise Institute,
the Cato Institute, and Americans for Prosperity, leading financiers of
21st Century conservative and libertarian political candidates in the United
States. David was the Libertarian Party's vice-presidential nominee in
the 1980 presidential election.
Donald Hollowell, prominent attorney in the Civil Rights
Movement, particularly in Atlanta, Georgia, who successfully sued to integrate
Atlanta's public schools and buses, and Georgia colleges and universities;
freed Martin Luther King, Jr. from prison; and mentored civil rights attorneys
(including Vernon Jordan and Horace Ward).
Business and economic figures
Businessmen Charles and David Koch (Koch Industries),
Dan and Frank Carney (Pizza Hut), Clyde Cessna (Cessna Aircraft), Walter
Herschel Beech (Beech Aircraft Company), Bill Lear (Lear Jet), and businesswoman
Olive Ann Beech (Beech Aircraft Company) all lived in Wichita.
Athletes including Pro Football Hall of Fame running backs
Gale Sayers and Barry Sanders, Basketball Hall of Famer Lynette Woodard,
and current UFC flyweight fighter Tim Elliott were all born and/or raised
in Wichita. Olympic medal-winning athletes Jim Ryun, (silver medal, 1500
meters, 1968 Summer Olympics) and Nico Hernandez, (bronze medal, boxing,
2016 Summer Olympics) are from Wichita.
Media and performing arts
A number of famous actors are from Wichita, including
actress Kirstie Alley, known for her role in the TV show Cheers, was born/raised
in Wichita and lives in the city part-time. Actor Don Johnson of Miami
Vice and Nash Bridges, lived in Wichita throughout most of his childhood
Musician Joe Walsh, founding member of the band James
Gang and later member of The Eagles, is from Wichita. American Idol Season
6 finalist Phil Stacey attended high school in Wichita.
Early network television news commentator, spokesperson
and game show panelist John Cameron Swayze, and Jim Lehrer PBS News Hour
anchor-editor were both Wichita natives. Melissa McDermott was an anchor
at Wichita's KSNW before her job at CBS's Up to the Minute in the 1980s
and 1990s. Network sportscaster Andrea Joyce (NBC, CBS, ESPN) was first
a news anchor for Wichita's KWCH/KTVH-TV in the 1980s.
Musician Jay Bentley (born June 6, 1964, Wichita, Kansas)
is the bassist and co-founding member of the punk rock group Bad Religion.
On occasions he will also play bass for Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.
Heavy Metal band Manilla Road are from Wichita.