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Wichita ( ) is a city in and the county seat of Sedgwick County, Kansasmarker, United Statesmarker. As of the 2000 census its population was 344,284. The 2006 estimated population of 361,420 made it the 51st largest city in the country and the most populous city in Kansas. Wichita is located in south central Kansas on the Arkansas Rivermarker.

The city was incorporated in 1870, based on the success of businessmen who came to hunt and trade with native populations. Its position on the Chisholm Trail made it a destination for cattle drives headed north to access railroads to eastern markets. In the 20th century, aircraft pioneers such as Clyde Cessna and Walter Beech began projects that would lead to Wichita's establishment as the "Air Capital of the World". The aircraft corporations Stearman Aircraft, Cessna, Mooney and Beechcraft were all founded in Wichita in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft remain based in Wichita today, along with Learjet and Spirit AeroSystems, and both Airbus and Boeing maintain a workforce in Wichita.

Wichita has evolved into a cultural and entertainment center. The downtown district offers nightclubs, restaurants, shopping centers, museums and parks. Intrust Bank Arenamarker, a 15,000 seat arena in the middle of Wichita is under construction with completion slated for January 2010. Several universities are in Wichita, the largest being Wichita State University with an enrollment of 15,000 students. In July 2006, CNN/Money and Money magazine ranked Wichita 9th on its 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 most "Uniquely American" city by Newsmax Magazine.

The Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which encompasses Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey, and Sumner counties, has a 2007 estimated population of 596,452 persons residing in 245,159 households, making it the 84th largest MSA in the United States. The Wichita-Winfield Combined Statistical Area also includes Cowley County and has an estimated population of 630,703. As a major population center Wichita encompasses within 100 mile radius a population as of (2000) - 1,240,451.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which is water.


Wichita has a humid subtropical climate (Koppen Cfa) with hot, humid summers and cool to cold, dry winters. Despite the wide range of temperatures, Wichita, KS is known to have more sunny days throughout the year than Miami, FL. Over the course of a year, temperatures range from an average low of about in January to an average high of nearly in July. The maximum temperature reaches an average of 64 days per year and reaches an average of 14 days per year. The minimum temperature falls below an average of 108 days per year. The first fall freeze typically occurs between the second week of October and mid-November, and the last spring freeze occurs between the end of March and the final week of April.

The area receives over of precipitation during an average year, with the largest share being received in May and June—with a combined 21 days of measurable precipitation. During a typical year, the total amount of precipitation may be anywhere from . There are on average 88 days of measurable precipitation per year. Winter snowfall averages almost , but the median is less than . Measurable snowfall occurs an average of 11 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 18 days per year.

The area is vulnerable to severe weather, with frequent thunderstorms occurring mainly during the spring and summer months of March-June. These occasionally bring large hail as well as frequent lightning. Sometimes tornadoes occur. The outskirts of Wichita were affected during the Andover, Kansas Tornado Outbreak on April 26, 1991, which spawned an F5 tornado—the most violent of its kind. During the 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak, on May 3, 1999, an F4 tornado hit the town of Haysville, which then tracked north and hit the southwest edge of Wichita.

Source: Monthly Station Climate Summaries, 1971-2000, U.S. National Climatic Data Center
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Notes: Temperatures are in degrees Fahrenheit. Precipitation includes rain and melted snow or sleet in inches; median values are provided for precipitation and snowfall because mean averages may be misleading. Mean and median values are for the 30-year period 1971–2000; temperature extremes are for the station's period of record (1954–2001). The station is located at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport at , elevation .


The early 20th century saw a resurgence in growth from the nascent aircraft industry (see below) with the population increasing by 350% between 1900 and 1930. By 1920 Wichita had entered the top 100 largest cities in the United States and by 1930 reached 77th in rank. The depression of the 1930s again slowed growth, with total population only increasing by 3% between 1930 and 1940. The decades during and after World War II saw a growth spurt as the city's population increased by more than 120% between 1940 and 1960. Wichita had become the largest city in the state by 1950 and the 51st largest city in the country by 1960.

The period between 1950 and 1970 saw a major shift in the city's racial make-up, as the proportion of blacks in the population increased significantly. Until 1950, blacks had made up about 5% of the population, with little variation. The black population increased from 8,082 (4.8%) in 1950 to 26,841 (9.7%) in 1970. Even as the white population has increased from 160,000 in 1950 to about 260,000 in 2000, the percentage of the population has dropped from 95% to 75%.

During the 1970s, the city's population grew by only 1%, but the growth rate accelerated in the following two decades to more than 13% in the 1990s. The growth among minorities is still strong. The black population has grown by a more modest 14% per decade, but the proportion of other races, including indigenous Americans and immigrants from Asia and the Pacific Rim, has risen from 1% to over 10% of the population.

Wichita's population was estimated to be in the year , .

The Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey, and Sumner counties, has an estimated population of 596,452 residing in 245,159 households, making it the 84th largest MSA in the United States. The Wichita-Winfield Combined Statistical Area also includes Cowley County, and has an estimated population of 630,703. Nearby Reno County is not a part of the Wichita MSA or CSA, but the Census reported a population estimate of 63,832 in Reno County in 2003.

Census of 2000

As of the U.S. Census in 2000, there were 344,284 people, 139,087 households, and 87,763 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,536.1/sq mi (979.2/km²). There were 152,119 housing units at an average density of 1,120.6/sq mi (432.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 75.20% White, 15.62% Black or African American, 3.96% Asian, 1.16% Native American, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 5.10% from other races, and 3.10% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.62% of the population.

Of the 139,087 households, 32.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.3% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.9% were non-families. 31.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.10.

In the city the population was spread out, with 27.1% under the age of 18, 10.1% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 97.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $39,939, and the median income for a family was $49,247. Males had a median income of $36,457 versus $25,844 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,647. About 8.4% of families and 11.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.4% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 or over.

2005-2007 Estimates

At the 2005-2007 American Community Survey Estimates, the city's population was 76.3% White (68.8% non-Hispanic White alone), 12.9% Black or African American, 2.5% American Indian and Alaska Native, 5.0% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 6.9% from some other race and 3.7% from two or more races. 11.9% of the total population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.


The site on the two rivers has served as a trading center for nomadic peoples for 11,000 years. The area was visited by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado in 1541, while he was in search of the fabulous "cities of gold." While there, he encountered a group of Indians whom he called Quiviras and who have been identified by archeological and historical studies as Wichita Indians. By 1719 these people had moved south to Oklahomamarker, where they met French traders. The first permanent settlement in Wichita was a collection of grass houses inhabited by the Wichita Indians in 1863. They had moved back to Wichita from Oklahoma during the American Civil War because of their pro-Union sentiments.

The city was officially incorporated in 1870. Its position on the Chisholm Trail made it a destination for cattle drives headed north to access railroads to eastern markets. As a result, it became a railhead destination for cattle drives from Texasmarker and other south-western points, from whence it has derived its nickname "Cowtown." It quickly gained a wild reputation, and had numerous well-known lawmen pass through, employed to help keep the rowdy cowboys in line. Among those was Wyatt Earp.

The City of Wichita's logo.
Following the incorporation of the city in 1870, rapid immigration resulted in a land boom involving speculation into the late 1880s. By 1890 Wichita had become the third largest city in the state (behind Kansas Citymarker and Topekamarker), with a population of nearly 24,000. After the boom the city suffered from 15 years of comparative depression and slow growth.

Wichita reached national fame in 1900 when Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) member Carrie Nation decided to carry her crusade against alcohol to Wichita. On December 27 of that year she entered the Carey House bar in downtown Wichita and smashed the place with a rock and a pool ball. She had visited all the bars in Wichita the night before and demanded that they close their doors. However, the painting by John Noble of Cleopatra at the Roman Bath in the Carey House had drawn her particular wrath.

In the 20th century, aircraft pioneers such as Clyde Cessna and Walter Beech began projects that led to Wichita's establishment as the "Air Capital of the World". The aircraft corporations Stearman, Cessna, Mooney and Beech were all founded in Wichita in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

In 1914-1915, oil was discovered nearby and Wichita became a major oil center. The money derived from oil allowed local entrepreneurs to invest in a nascent airplane industry. In 1917, the first plane, the Cessna Comet, was manufactured in Wichita. Forty-three Swallows, the first airplanes made specifically for production, were built in Wichita between 1920 and 1923. This industry, coinciding with Wichita becoming a test center for new aviation, established Wichita as the "Air Capital." Lloyd Stearman and Walter Beech were employees of the Swallow Airplane Company, but in January 1925 they left Swallow and teamed up with Clyde Cessna to form Travel Air. Stearman left the company in 1926 to start Stearman Aircraft in Venice, Californiamarker, and Cessna quit in January 1927 to start Cessna. Stearman would only be gone from Wichita for a year before returning.

Travel Air, with Walter Beech at the helm, grew to over 600 employees and operated from a huge factory complex constructed from 1927 to 1929. Owing to employing so many workers at such a large complex and being a few miles outside the city limits, it was tagged "Travel Air City" by Wichita residents. The company merged with the huge Curtis Wright Corporation in the Roaring Twenties' heyday of company buyouts and takeovers just two months before the Stock Market crash in 1929. Workers were laid off by the hundreds during 1930 and more so in 1931. By the fall of 1932 all workers of Travel Air in Wichita were let go, the equipment was sold and the entire Travel Air plant sat empty.

In March 1932 Beech quit Curtis Wright to form Beech Aircraft with his wife Olive Ann and hired Ted Wells as his chief engineer. The first four or five "Beechcraft" were built in the vacant Cessna Aircraft plant which was also closed during the depression. Beech later leased and then bought the Travel Air plant from Curtis Wright and men, machinery, and an airplane or two were moved from the Cessna plant. The first aircraft was the Model 17, later dubbed the "Staggerwing", which was first flown on November 5, 1932. The aircraft that would propel the small company into a huge corporation was the Model 18 "Twin Beech", of which thousands were built from 1937 to 1969. The Staggerwing production ended in 1946 with approximately 750 built, and a few more were assembled from parts in 1947. The Staggerwing production was replaced by the Beechcraft Bonanza, although there are still nearly 100 Staggerwings in existence, most in usable condition.

In October 1932 orchestra leader Gage Brewer introduced the electric guitar to the world from Wichita using an instrument developed by what would later become known as the Rickenbacker Guitar Company.

The city experienced a population explosion during World War II when it became a major manufacturing center for airplanes needed in the war effort. By 1945, 4.2 bombers were being produced daily in Wichita. Stearman Aircraft, later purchased by the Boeing Company, was founded in Wichita, as were Beech Aircraft (now called Hawker Beechcraft), Cessna Aircraft, and LearJet (now Bombardier). The city remains a major manufacturing center for the aircraft industry today, with all of these and Airbus still having major centers there, hence its nickname: "Air Capital of the World."

Wichita was also a significant entrepreneurial business center during the pre and post-war period, with Coleman, Mentholatum, Pizza Hut, White Castle, Taco Tico and Koch Industries having all been founded in Wichita. (Ironically, White Castle closed all of their restaurants in Wichita in 1938 and has not operated in the state of Kansas after a failed revival attempt in the Kansas City area in the early 1990s.) The entrepreneurial spirit of Wichita led to the creation of one of the first academic centers to study and support entrepreneurship at the Wichita State Universitymarker Center for Entrepreneurship.

Recent history has seen increased development in downtown and to the east and west sides of Wichita. Sedgwick County voters recently approved a sales tax raise to build a new arena downtown to replace the aging Kansas Coliseummarker, located north of the city. This is considered by some as a stepping stone to launch new development downtown.


Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft are based in Wichita, along with Learjet and Spirit AeroSystems, and both Airbus and Boeing maintain a work force in Wichita.

The Coleman Company, a company that produces camping supplies, is based in Wichita.

Wichita is home to the headquarters of Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company in the United States.

Renewable energy company Alternative Energy Solutions is based in Wichita.

Chance Morgan, a manufacturer of roller coasters, is based in Wichita.

Prior to its dissolution Air Midwest, a regional airline, was headquartered in Wichita.


Most residents of Wichita travel around the region by automobile. The Kansas Turnpike (Interstate 35), Interstates 135 and 235, U.S. Route 54/400, K-42 and K-96 run through and near the city. Currently the idea of a Northwest Corridor is under discussion, to run from K-96 south from Maize to US-54/400.

The Main Roads in the Wichita area are Central Ave., Broadway St., Douglas Ave. McLean Blvd, and Interstates 135. in Central Wichita, Meridan Ave., Seneca St., MacArthur Rd., 47th St., West St., Broadway St., and Kansas Turnpike (Interstate 35) in South Wichita. Webb Rd., Greenwich Rd., Rock Rd., Kansas Turnpike (Interstate 35), and U.S. Route 54/400, to the East. Tyler Rd., Maize Rd., 13th St., 21st St., Ridge Rd., and U.S. Route 54/400 in West Wichita. Broadway St., Meridan/Amidon/Womer St., 29th St., and 37th St.

Wichita Transit operates 51 buses on 17 fixed bus routes within the city. The organization reports over 2 million trips on the fixed routes per year (5,400 trips per day). Wichita Transit also operates a demand response paratransit service-- 320,800 passengers ride it 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.

The nearest Amtrak station is in Newton (20 miles/32 km to the north), offering service on the Southwest Chief route between Los Angelesmarker and Chicagomarker. However, the Kansas Department of Transportation recently requested Amtrak study route options between Oklahoma Citymarker and Newton or Kansas City, Missourimarker.

Wichita is home to Wichita Mid-Continent Airportmarker, the largest airport in the state of Kansas. Flights from Wichita's airport travel to many U.S. airport hubs via 9 commercial carriers. Mid-Continent is currently experiencing a period of growth, and served a record 1.6 million passengers in 2007. However, besides hotel shuttles there is at present only a limited 6-day-a-week hourly daytime bus service to and from the airport, and no rail connection.

Colonel James Jabara Airportmarker is a general aviation facility located on the city's northeast side.


Downtown Wichita & Century II Convention Center along the Arkansas River.
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 2-3 square mile 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 warehouse-type spaces.

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 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.

The town of Eastborough, Kansas is east of College Hill, entirely engulfed by the city of Wichita.

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 five anchor stores, and has more than 100 tenants apiece. The oldest mall, Wichita Mall, is largely a dead mall. There is also a large outdoor shopping center on the city's northeast and northwest sides. Bradley Fair and New Market Square (respectively) are large outdoor malls with over 50 stores each spread out on several acres.


The majority of Wichita's students are served by Wichita Public Schools (USD 259), although portions of Wichita are served by the Andover (USD 385), Derby (USD 260), Haysville (USD 261), Maize (USD 266), Valley Center (USD 262), Goddard (USD 265) and Circle (USD 375) school districts. The largest private schools are Bishop Carroll Catholic High Schoolmarker, The Independent School, Kapaun Mt.marker Carmel High Schoolmarker, Trinity Academymarker and Wichita Collegiate School.

Colleges and universities



The City of Wichita is a cultural center for Kansas, home to several art and history museums and performing arts groups. The Music Theatre of Wichita and Wichita Symphony Orchestra perform regularly at the Century II Convention Hallmarker downtown. The Orpheum Theatremarker, built in 1922, serves as a downtown venue for smaller shows.

The renowned Tallgrass Film Festival was founded in Wichita by the late Timothy Gruver in 2003. The fest draws an estimated 100 independent feature and short films from all over the world for three days each October. MPAA president Dan Glickman and legendary actor Seymour Cassel have attended.

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 for 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.

Mother and Child, by Mary Cassatt, at the Wichita Art Museum
The Wichita Art Museummarker is the largest art museum in the state of Kansas, and contains 7,000 works in permanent collections. This museum is a hub of the city's museums along the Arkansas River: the Mid-America All-Indian Center, Old Cowtown living history museum, Exploration Placemarker science and discovery center, The Keeper of the Plains statue, and Botanica, The Wichita Gardensmarker. Botanica boasts 24 themed gardens including the popular Butterfly Garden and the award-winning Sally Stone Sensory Garden.

The Sedgwick County Zoomarker[17641] 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.

The Sedgwick County Historical Museum
The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museummarker[17642] 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.

Slightly east of downtown, Old Town was transformed in the early 1990s from an old warehouse district to a mixed-zone neighborhood with residential space, nightclubs, restaurants, hotels and museums, including the Great Plains Transportation Museummarker and Museum of World Treasures.

The Ulrich Museum of Art and Lowell D.marker Holmes Museum of Anthropologymarker are part of Wichita State University.

The historic Orpheum Theatre

The Wichita River Festival is held each May in the Downtown and Old Town areas of the city. It is one of the longest continuous running festivals in the state of Kansas and features over 70 events, including 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.

The River Run, a 10K race held on the first Saturday of the festival, is the largest road race in Kansas.


The Wichita Eagle began circulation in 1872 and remains the major daily newspaper in Wichita. There is also a weekly business newspaper, the The Wichita Business Journal.

Monthly publications include The College Hill Commoner, The Downtowner, Wichita Magazine, The Urban News, Christian Press, The WestSide Story, and the East Wichita News.

Cable television service for Wichita and the surrounding areas is provided by Cox Communications and AT&T.


Sports teams in Wichita are: Friends University football

Sister cities

Metro cities

See also


  1. Naming Rights Approved for Arena
  2. {cite web | title = Most Uniquely American Cities and Towns | work = Newsmax Magazine | year = 2008 | url = | accessdate = 2009-09-25}}
  3. Annual estimates of the population to . Released . Population change is from to .
  6. " uipl_3002c2a3.html." United States Department of Labor. Retrieved on May 26, 2009.
  7. City of Wichita - Transit Services Main
  8. [New Yorkers are top transit users], by Les Christie,, 2007-6-29
  9. Kansas Asks Amtrak to Study Additional Passenger Rail Service -
  10. Westside route notes
  11. Westside route map and timetable
  12. City of Wichita - Park and Recreation Parks, Greenways, and Recreation Corridors
  13. City of Wichita - Historic Preservation Main
  14. River Festival estimates record attendance - Wichita Business Journal:

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