This page was last updated 26 July 2011 -- rak.

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The Wichita City Seal

Wichita is the largest city in the state of Kansas, USA. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 382,368. 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. As of 2011, the metro area had a population of 630,721. (info from Wikipedia)

Wichita as a city site is much older than the advent of Europeans in the area -- for centuries the principal city of the Wichita or Quiviran tribe was located here (Margaret Whittemore, HISTORIC KANSAS, Lawrence, 1954, p.15; hereafter cited as Whittemore).

Wichita first came to prominence as a cow town. Jesse Chisholm had laid out the Chisholm trail from his near Wichita trading post down into the Oklahoma Indian territory. The first herds were driven over it to Wichita in 1867. By the early 1870s it was swarming with cowboys, cattle and wagons, and was reputed to be the noisiest place on the American continent! However in 1876 the cattle business shifted to Dodge City which then replaced Wichita as the "Cowboy Capital". But their day in the sun ended when in 1885 the Kansas legislature prohibited the driving of Texas cattle into Kansas (Whittemore, pp.67-69).

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 heading north to access railroads to eastern markets. In the 20th century, aircraft pioneers such as Clyde Cessna, Walter Beech and Bill Lear began projects that would lead to Wichita's nicknaming as the Air Capital of the World. The aircraft corporations Stearman, 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. The city was also at one time the headquarters of the former Derby Oil Company, which was purchased by Coastal Corporation in 1988.

An area cultural center, Wichita is home to Intrust Bank Arena as well as numerous nightclubs, restaurants, shopping centers, museums and parks. 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.

When we lived in Wichita, WWII was on and the city was booming. The airplane industry was turning out plane after plane, hiring workers right and left. And the petroleum industry was pumping gas east as fast as it could.

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