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Facts You Need to Know about Wichita

Updated on April 21, 2014
Wichita | Source

Wichita, in south central Kansas, is the state's most populous city and the seat of Sedgwick county. Situated at the junction of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers, it is 190 miles (305 km) southwest of Kansas City, Kans. The city has a population of 385,577 (2012).

Wichita is the commercial and industrial center of a rich agricultural and oil- and gas-producing region. The city is the petroleum capital of Kansas, with many oil companies represented. More wheat is milled in Wichita than anywhere else in the state, and the city serves as the meat and soybean oil processing center of Kansas.

Wichita ranks as the largest manufacturing center in Kansas. Aircraft manufacture is the biggest industry, represented by the Hawker Beechcraft Corporation. Cessna Aircraft Company, Gates Learjet Corporation, Spirit Aero Systems, and the Boeing Company. Household appliances, oil-field equipment, camping equipment, farm equipment, metal and wood products, home and office equipment, and computers also are manufactured.

Kansas Turnpike
Kansas Turnpike | Source

Wichita is on the Kansas Turnpike and several interstate highways. The Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, 6 miles (10 km) from downtown, is served by several airlines. The McConnell Air Force Base is southeast of the city.

Wichita State University was founded in 1892; Friends University (1898) is affiliated with the Society of Friends; and Newman University (1933) is also in the city.

A new 14-story city hall was completed in 1975. The old city hall, built in 1892, now serves as home for the Historical Museum. Century II, a circular structure completed in 1969, is a cultural and convention center that includes a concert hall, where performances by the Wichita Symphony Orchestra are given, exhibition halls, and a theater. The Kansas Coliseum, seating 12,000, provides an arena for sports events, concerts, exhibitions, and other shows.

Wichita Art Museum
Wichita Art Museum | Source

Among the city's art museums are the Wichita Art Museum, which has the Murdock collection, one of the largest collections of American art in the United States; the museum of the Wichita Art Association; and the Ulrich Museum of Wichita State University. Other museums include the Fellow-Reeve Museum of Friends University, concentrating on historical relics, paleontology, and zoology; the Wichita Historical Museum; Historic Wichita Cow Town, a replica of early Wichita; and the Mid-America All Indian Center Museum, displaying Plains Indian artifacts. The city also is the site of a fine natural habitat zoological garden.

In 1864, James R. Mead and Jesse Chisholm established a trading post at the junction of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers. Soon after the removal of the Wichita Indians to Oklahoma Territory in 1867, a white settlement grew up at the trading post. The trail followed by Chisholm on a trading expedition in 1865, later called the Chisholm Trail, quickly became an important overland cattle route, and the settlement of Wichita, whose name is derived from the Indian tribe, became a stopping point for cattle drivers.

The first settlers arrived in the area in 1868. Wichita was laid out in 1869 and incorporated as a town in 1870. In 1872 the Santa Fe Railway reached Wichita, a U.S. land office was opened, and the Wichita Eagle and Beacon newspapers were founded. Development of the rich lands, the oil, and commerce and industry brought a rapid increase in population. Wichita was chartered as a city in 1886. It adopted a city manager-commission form of government in 1917.


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