Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Wichita, the Air Capital, is the largest city in Kansas, as well as a major aircraft manufacturing hub and cultural center. It is located in South Central Kansas, and is the county seat of Sedgwick County. As of the 2003 Census, the city had a total population of 360,715. The Wichita Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) which encompasses Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey, and Sumner counties has a 2003 population of 582,781 persons residing in 245,159 households.
Wichita is located at 37°41'20" North, 97°20'10" West (37.688848, -97.336226)1.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 359.8 km² (138.9 mi²). 351.6 km² (135.8 mi²) of it is land and 8.2 km² (3.2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 2.29% water.
The Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers run through and meet in Wichita. The city was founded at this location precisely because of this confluence. The Arkansas river runs on to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where it becomes navigable by large boats.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 344,284 people, 139,087 households, and 87,763 families residing in the city. The population density is 979.2/km² (2,536.1/mi²). There are 152,119 housing units at an average density of 432.7/km² (1,120.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 75.20% White, 11.42% African American, 1.16% Native American, 3.96% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 5.10% from other races, and 3.10% from two or more races. 9.62% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 139,087 households out of which 32.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.3% are married couples living together, 11.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 36.9% are non-families. 31.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.3% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.44 and the average family size is 3.10.
In the city the population is 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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there are 97.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 94.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $39,939, and the median income for a family is $49,247. Males have a median income of $36,457 versus $25,844 for females. The per capita income for the city is $20,647. 11.2% of the population and 8.4% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 14.4% of those under the age of 18 and 7.6% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
The Wichita Transit Authority operates 18 fixed bus routes within the city.
Wichita is home to Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, the largest airport in the state of Kansas (the larger Kansas City International Airport is located in Missouri). Flights from Wichita's airport travel to many U.S. airport hubs via 13 commercial carriers.
The City of Wichita is home to Botanica-The Wichita Gardens (http://www.botanica.org) which boasts 24 themed gardens including the popular Butterfly Garden and the award-winning Sally Stone Sensory Garden. Sedgwick County Extension Arboretum is also located in the city.
Wichita is also home to the Wichita River Festival (http://www.wichitafestivals.com), 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 party, food court and souvenirs for the roughly 160,000 patrons who attend each year.
Other major attractions of the city include the Sedgwick County Zoo, home to more than 2,500 animals of nearly 500 different species; the Old Cowtown Museum; McConnell Air Force Base; Exploration Place, a science and discovery center for all ages); the Old Town historical and entertainment district; the Mid-America All-Indian Center and Museum; and the Wichita Art Museum.
A thorough writeup can be found at http://www.wichita.gov/Residents/History/.
The site on the two rivers has served as a trading center for nomadic peoples for the last 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 this people had moved south to Oklahoma, where they were encountered by 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 Civil War due to their pro-Union sentiments. The city was officially incorporated in 1870. Shortly thereafter it became a railhead destination for cattle drives from Texas and other southwestern points, from whence it has derived its nickname of "Cowtown".
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 27th of that year she entered the Carey House bar in downtown Wichita and smashed the place up 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 1914-1915, oil was discovered nearby and Wichita became a major oil center. The oil money, in turn, allowed local entrepreneurs to invest in a nascent airplane industry in the 1920's. 43 Swallow airplanes were built in Wichita between 1920 and 1923. This was the first airplane made specifically for production. Lloyd Stearman and Walter Beech were employees of the Swallow company.In January 1925 Stearman and Beech left Swallow Aircraft and teamed up with Clyde Cessna to form Travel Air. Lloyd Stearman left the company in 1926 to start Stearman Aircraft in Venice California. Cessna quit in January 1927 to start Cessna Aircraft. Stearman would only be gone from Wichita for a year before returning.
Travel Air with Walter Beech at the helm grew to the point of employing over 600 workers and working in a huge factory complex contructed from 1927 thru 1929. 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. Those that retained jobs were moved to the Curtis Wright plant in St.Louis in 1931 to lower operating costs. By the fall of 1932 the final workers were let go in Wichita, equipment was sold and the entire Travel Air plant sat empty. Walter Beech held a desk job in New York instead of walking the factory floors and was not happy in this new position.
In March 1932 Walter 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 a airplane or two were moved from the Cessna plant. The first aircraft was the beautiful 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 assembled from parts in 1947. There are still nearly 100 Staggerwings in existence, most in useable condition. The demise of the Staggerwing production can easily be traced to one aircraft, the Beech Bonanza.
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, a predecessor of the Boeing Company, was founded in Wichita, as were Beech Aircraft (now part of Raytheon), Cessna Aircraft, and LearJet (now Bombardier). The city remains a major manufacturing center for the aircraft industry today, with all of these and Airbus having major centers there still. Hence its nickname: "The Air Capital". It has also been a significant entrepreneurial business center during the postwar period, with Coleman, Mentholatum , Pizza Hut, White Castle, and Koch Industries having all been founded in Wichita.
The first complete recording made by the famous jazz musician Charlie "Bird" Parker occurred in 1940 at the Trocadero Ballroom in Wichita. During the 1950's and early 1960's Wichita had a significant "Beat" movement. Information on this can be found at http://homepage.mac.com/thorntonstreiff/Menu9.html. The Wichita Jazz Festival remains a significant annual event on the jazz calendar to this day.
On January 15, 1974, four members of the same Wichita family were found murdered in their home; this was followed by a fifth murder later that same year (on August 4) and two more in 1977 (on March 17 and December 8). All seven murders are now known to have been committed by the same person because that person later sent a series of cryptic letters, both to police and a local television station. On September 16, 1986 still another murder, thought to be similar in character to the first seven, was committed. From his letters, the unknown serial murderer became known as the "BTK Killer," the initials standing for "Bind, Torture, Kill," his modus operandi. More anonymous letters arrived in 2004 and early 2005. These killings attracted nationwide publicity, most notably being featured on two different episodes of the television show America's Most Wanted. On February 26, 2005, Wichita Police announced, during a nationally-televised news conference, the capture (the previous day) of Dennis Rader as a suspect in the BTK killings — and also linking him to two additional murders, one having been committed in 1985, the other in 1991. The murder comitted in 1985 is especially disturbing given that the victim lived on the same block as the suspect Dennis Rader, and yet it took nearly 20 years and at least one additional murder for the suspect to be detained.
An informative collection of historical photographs of Wichita can be found at .
Colleges and Universities
- Wichita State University
- Friends University
- Newman University
- Wichita Area Technical College
- Wichita Technical Institute
Actresses Kirstie Alley and Hattie McDaniel, actors Don Johnson and Sidney Toler , announcer John Cameron Swayze , television hosts Jeff Probst and Jim Lehrer, journalist Susan Page , football star Barry Sanders, basketball stars Lynette Woodard, Darnell Valentine and Antoine Carr , Olympic medalist Jim Ryun, golfer Judy Bell , America's Cup winner Bill Koch, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, former Secretary of Agriculture and current President of the Motion Picture Association of America Dan Glickman, Ambassador to the Organization of American States Roger Noriega, marine geologist Robert Ballard, Nobel Prize winner Vernon L. Smith, X-Ray astronomer Leon van Speybroeck , author Deb Stover , industrialists Walter Beech ,Clyde Cessna ,Lloyd Stearman ,William Lear, Charles Koch, and Bob Helms , jazz musician Stan Kenton, and rock musician Joe Walsh are all natives of Wichita.
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