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Wichita, Kans.

Mayor: Carl Brewer (to April 2015)

City Manager: Robert Layton

2010 census population (rank): 382,368 (49); Male: 188,523 (49.3%); Female: 193,845 (50.7%); White: 275,080 (71.9%); Black: 43,807 (11.5%); American Indian and Alaska Native: 4,560 (1.2%); Asian: 18,466 (4.8%); Other race: 23,518 (6.2%); Two or more races: 16,601 (4.3%); Hispanic/Latino: 58,348 (15.3%). 2010 percent population 18 and over: 73.4%; 65 and over: 11.5%; Median age: 33.9.

2012 population estimate (rank): 385,577 (49)

See additional census data

Land area: 136 sq mi. (352 sq km);

Alt.: 1,333 ft.

Avg. daily temp.: Jan., 29.5° F; July, 81.4° F

Churches: Protestant, 512; Roman Catholic, 20; Jewish, 2; other, 66;

City parks: 110 (4,388 ac.);

Radio stations: 22;

Television stations: 7

Civilian Labor Force (MSA) June 2012: 311,600;

Unemployed: 22,800,

Percent: 7.3;

Per capita personal income 2010 $24,715

Chamber of Commerce: Wichita Chamber of Commerce, 350 W. Douglas, Wichita, KA 67202

Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and the seat of Sedgwick County. It is located in the south-central part of the state, at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers. Incorporated as a city in 1870, Wichita is the chief commercial and industrial center of southern Kansas.

More or less uninhabited at the time of Kansas's entry into the Union in 1861, the area was first settled by Wichita Indians, who came north from Texas and Oklahoma during the Civil War. At about the same time (during the mid-1860s) a number of trading posts were established at or near the river junction. One of the traders, Jesse Chisholm, pioneered the Chisholm Trail, which passed through Wichita and was the main cattle-drive route from Texas to the railroad in Abilene. After the railroad was extended to Wichita in 1872, the city boomed first as a cow town and then later as the trading center in an agricultural and livestock region. Although the city experienced an economic slump at the end of the 19th century, oil was discovered nearby in 1915, and subsequently the population almost doubled.

Aircraft manufacturing began in the 1920s, and Wichita remains a center of the aircraft industry today. In addition, the city also has flour mills, meatpacking plants, and oil refineries. Major manufactures include camping equipment, heaters and air conditioners, and electronics. Wichita has a number of art and historical museums, a zoo, and a planetarium. It is the site of several universities, including Wichita State University (1895). McConnell Air Force Base is nearby.

See also Encyclopedia: Wichita.

Selected famous natives and residents:

  • Kirstie Alley actress;
  • Alan Fudge actor;
  • Dan Glickman former congressman and U.S. secretary of agriculture;
  • Laurel Goodwin actress;
  • Stan Kenton musician;
  • Jim Lehrer news anchor;
  • Fred, Thomas, and Edwin McConnell WWII pilots;
  • Hattie McDaniel actress;
  • Barry Sanders football player;
  • Gale Sayers football player;
  • Arlen Specter U.S. senator from Pennsylvania;
  • Ron Wyden U.S. senator from Oregon.

Information Please® Database, © 2011 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

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