DescriptionFor 11,000 years Wichita served as a trading center and meeting place for nomadic people, but it wasn’t until 1863 that the first permanent settlement of Wichita Indians was recorded. Shortly after, J.R. Mead became the first white settler when he opened a trading post and established the area as a base for the Chisholm Trail.
By 1870 Wichita, now incorporated as a city, had become a destination for cattle drives from Texas, hence the city’s nickname, “Cowtown.” When the cattle trade moved west to take advantage of new rail lines, Wichita fell on hard times. The city bounced back in the 1890s as commerce centered on grain began to surpass the wealth once generated by cattle.
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Lake Afton Public Observatory is southwest of downtown Wichita in Goddard at 25000 W. 39th St. S. Telescopes are available and astronomy exhibits are displayed in a museum; phone (316) 883-4329.
A lively cultural life centers on the city's symphony orchestra, Music Theatre of Wichita, Wichita Grand Opera and three institutions of higher learning: Friends University, with 2,800 students; Newman University, with 3,000 students; and Wichita State University, with an enrollment of 14,500.
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Visitor InfoGo Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau 515 S. Main St. WICHITA, KS 67202. Phone:(316)265-2800 or (800)288-9424
ShoppingTowne East Square, US 54/400 at Rock Road, features Dillard's, JCPenney, Sears and Von Maur. Towne West Square, on US 54/400 at Tracy Street, features Dillard's, JCPenney and Sears. Sheplers, 6501 W. Kellogg St., specializes in western wear.
The Coleman Factory Outlet Store, 235 N. St. Francis, offers outdoor gear and displays of vintage Coleman products. Bradley Fair, 2000 N. Rock Rd., includes Banana Republic, Chico's, Eddie Bauer and Talbots.
In the heart of downtown, renovated 19th-century warehouses are the setting for Old Town, which features some 100 trendy urban shops, galleries, nightclubs and restaurants.
Things to SeeBotanica, The Wichita Gardens