Happy Birthday Wichita!
Tuesday, July 21, is Wichita’s 150th birthday!
Do you have a favorite fact about Wichita that you tell your out-of-town visitors or places you make sure they see?
- Billy the Kid’s mom was the only female that signed the petition to incorporate the city in 1870. The outlaw’s mother, Catherine McCarty, purchased her own real estate and established a laundry business. Four years later she died and son, Billy, turned to a life of crime.
- Sedgwick County was also born in 1870.
- Carrie Nation smashed and destroyed a bar with her hatchet, pre-prohibition, in the Carey Hotel. Carrie Nation was 6 feet tall! The Carey Hotel is now known as the Eaton Hotel and has been renovated into modern day apartments.
- Actor Don Johnson and Actress Kirstie Alley both went to high school in Wichita.
- Visit the Kansas African American Museum, housed in the Calvary Baptist Church which was once the cornerstone of Wichita’s vibrant black community.
- Joe Walsh of the Eagles was born here.
- Jeff Probst host of Survivor was born in Wichita.
- Wichita cuisine offers a melting pot of flavors from around the world.
- Barry Sanders, Football hall of famer is from Wichita.
- Karla Burns, world renowned singer and actress was born here.
- Hattie McDaniel was the 1st African American to win an Academy Award for her performance in Gone with the Wind. Yes, Miss McDaniel was from Wichita!
- Frank Lloyd Wright’s Allen House is a beauty and in Wichita’s College Hill neighborhood. Tours available!
- Do you know where the troll lives down by the river? It’s a nice walk to have visitors find it.
- Pizza Hut, White Castle, and Mentholatum companies were all started in Wichita, among many other national brands.
- The Wichita Art Museum – you can show off the Chihuly blown glass display. It is beautiful whether you are gazing up or standing on top of it! Admission is free on Saturdays.
- Mid-America All-Indian Museum – events, classes, and exhibits!
- The Sedgwick County Zoo –a treasure of the plains. 7th largest zoo in the U.S. and 3rd largest elephant exhibit. In my opinion, best zoo ever! Exhibits are second to none and staff is careful to keep the animals’ environments as close to the wild as possible.
- Wichita was the site of the first African American sit-in to end segregation at an all-white lunch counter at the Dockum Drug Store in 1958. A sculpture of the counter now stands in the store’s original location.
- Wichita loves its art, from the sculptures around town, to building murals, the live music scene, uniquely decorated Keeper of the Plains, and 39 art galleries!
- Largest city in Kansas!
- Visit Botanica, The Wichita Gardens - beautiful gardens all year round, host to many events, and home of the once famed Joyland carousel. Totally restored, hop on, and take a ride back to your childhood.
- Wichita gets its name from a local tribe, the Wichita Indians. And was first founded as a trading post on the site of a village of Wichita Indians.
- Wichita sits on the Chisholm Trail and saw cattle drives go right through city.
- Folklore says a tornado will not touch down at the convergence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers. (pronounced Ar-Kansas) To my knowledge no tornado ever has. But I like to think the tornadoes have reverence for our original Keeper of the Plains, created by Native American and Wichita, Blackbear Bosin, that stands watch over this intersection.
- Want to see what Wichita was like in 1870? Take a day trip to Cowtown where staff dresses in period attire, gunfight reenactments take place, a real blacksmith hones his craft, and you can learn why gardening was so important on the prairie and how rough a sod house really was. . Wichita truly was the wild west!
Wichita is a great “hometown”. The people here are another favorite- friendly and always willing to help. Wichitans are known for their approachability. Thanks, Wichita, for all of these things and more. And by the way old girl, Happy 150th Birthday!