Introduction to Wichita, Kansas
Wichita, located in south-central Kansas at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers, is the largest city in the state. Originally settled by Wichita Indians during the Civil War, the area attracted white settlers who formed trading posts near the river junction. Wichita quickly became a key stop along the cattle-drive route known as the Chisholm Trail. The arrival of railroads in 1872 brought additional prosperity, making Wichita a commercial center for cattle and agricultural products. Discovery of oil nearby in 1915 establishment of aircraft manufacturing plants in the 1920s caused another population explosion.
Today, Wichita is the commercial and industrial center of the state, with a population of around 350,000. Known as the air capital of the world, Wichita is home to Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Cessna and Raytheon. Other important segments of the city's economy now include consumer goods, electronics and high-technology industries.
Wichita is the cultural hub of the central plains, with a symphony orchestra, several art museums and galleries, and history, transportation and aviation museums. The Kauffman Museum, located 22 miles north of the city, showcases the culture and history of the area including the immigration of the Mennonites to Kansas in the 1870s. The Old Cowtown Museum is a living re-enactment of the Old West. The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in nearby Hutchinson, an affiliate of the Smithsonian, has space artifacts from the US and Soviet space programs and an IMAX theater. The site of jazz great Charlie parker's first recording in 1940, Wichita hosts the 2-day Wichita Jazz Festival at multiple venues each April. The River Festival each spring is a 9-day event featuring all varieties of food, music and fireworks.
Wichita Sports and Leisure
The center of Wichita's sports scene is 11,500-seat Kansas Coliseum, home to minor league hockey's Wichita Thunder and arena football's Wichita Stealth. For minor league baseball, the Wichita Wranglers, a double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, play in highly regarded Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. For big league action, the parent club is 3 hours away in Kansas City. Wichita is also home to the new Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in Old Town, featuring exhibits on legendary Kansans such as Gale Sayers and Wilt Chamberlain.
Wichita has an excellent park system, with nearly 1 park for every square mile. There are 35 golf courses in metro Wichita, 5 within the city. Cheney State Park, located 25 miles west of Wichita, has a 9,500-acre reservoir that has hosted national sailing championships. It also has nature trails and facilities for swimming, fishing and camping. El Dorado Reservoir, 25 miles east of the city on the Walnut River, is a great spot for swimming and one of the area's best lakes for bass and trout fishing. Riverside Park located on the Arkansas River is a popular spot for class and family reunions. The Sedgwick County Zoo is consistently rated as one of the best animal parks in the country.
Wichita at Night
The city has an upbeat nightlife, with an interesting mix of restaurants, bars and venues for evening entertainment.