Amarillo is in the northwestern part of Texas, the center of the panhandle, and is the Potter county seat. Aside from the agribusiness that the southwest has a reputation for, including cattle and livestock ranches and farming, vast natural gas and oil reserves have helped make Amarillo an economic powerhouse in Texas. The city was established by cattle ranchers and sheep herders looking for grazing land, until the oil boom made many of them instant millionaires. Amarillo offers Route 66 travelers breathtaking views of Texas Panhandle prairie and deep Palo Duro Canyon.
Spanning 90 square miles, Amarillo is a sizable Texas city, with a population of more than 173,000. Once known as the "Helium Capital of the World" because of its abundant helium fields, Amarillo continues to embrace the traditions of the Old West and has preserved much of its history, making it a popular tourist destination.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Two-thirds of Amarillo residents - or Amarilloans, as locals are called - own their homes. Most houses are single-family dwellings with large yards. Although 98 percent of Amarilloans use private vehicles to drive to work, residents enjoy a much shorter commute than the rest of the nation, averaging a 17.39-minute drive each day. One benefit is that the city has lower noise and pollution levels than many cities have.
The city's downtown is set up in a grid formation. Starting on the west side of Amarillo and moving east, all streets running north and south are named for past U.S. presidents in chronological order (with the exception of John Quincy Adams, since the street with that surname was already taken by his father, the former president John Adams). All of the streets running east to west are numbered "avenues."
Amarillo contains several distinct neighborhoods, each with its own appeal:
- Located just south of downtown Amarillo, Plemons Historic District has a population of over 1500, with a median age of about 30 years. The Plemons district is denoted by black and white street signs, and features mostly one-storey brick homes. Notable sights in Plemons include the Gothic Polk Street Methodist Church and several bed and breakfast inns, including the neoclassic Harrington House, also on Polk, which offers tours, Auntie's House, Galbraith House and the circa 1926 La Casita del Sol.
- Amarillo's Route 66 district has something for everyone. Eclectic shops in the district include 6th Street Antique Mall, The Muse, The Mustard Seed, Apple Annie's Bridal, Rt66 Costume Castle, Texotica Pet Shop, Pink Flamingo, Town n Country Antiques, Pam's Quilting Corner and Wilson's Electric Lamp Shop. Restaurant options in the neighborhood are as varied as the shops, with choices including Barnaby's Beanery, Blue Gator, Ribs n More, J's Drive-In, Aldacos Tacos, Carmen's and the Route66 Java Stop Cafe. Aside from consumerism, Route 66 also features art galleries, including Rand McNatt Photography & Such, Blue Sage Art Gallery, and Amarillo's oldest photography studio, Gray's.
- Downtown Amarillo is a thriving shopping district, with art galleries, including The Colony and The Galleries at Sunset Center on Plains Blvd., gourmet shops, such as Schakolad Chocolate Factory, and the Amarillo Civic Center, which hosts concerts, sporting events and conventions.
Other neighborhoods and districts in Amarillo include:
- Amarillo Boulevard / Tascosa Road
- Soncy Road/ Hillside Road
- Adirondack Trail / Bell Street
- 34th Avenue / Bell Street
- 34th Avenue / Hawthorne Drive
- Bell Street / Glenoak Lane
- Bell Street/ Hillside Road
- Emil Avenue / Teckla Boulevard
Amarillo contains a variety of historic buildings and homes. Polk Street in particular holds many of these structures.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Amarillo is home to the world's largest natural gas development sector. Other significant industries include helium, petroleum-chemical firms, zinc smelting, retail, health care, pharmaceuticals, tourism, and education.
Tyson Foods is one of the city's largest employers, as is Pantex, a nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility.
- Palo Duro Canyon provides guided tours on horseback, which include visiting Timber Creek Canyon and the well-known rock formation resembling a lighthouse. The area's natural beauty allows visitors to experience it the way cowboys of the Old West did.
- Wonderland Park is a large amusement park featuring bumper cars and miniature golf among its 32 attractions. The park offers 25 different rides, including the Big Splash log flume and Shoot the Chute water ride.
- Storyland Zoo brings children's fairy tales to life within its exhibits, which feature animals native to the Texas Panhandle.
- Don Harrington Discovery Center hosts physical, earth, and life science exhibitions every summer.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum is the largest history museum in the state and is located on the campus of West Texas A&M University. Exhibits recount stories of the Old West.
- Harrington House, originally built in 1914, allows visitors to experience the workmanship, paintings and lifestyle of the era.
- Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts offers annual performances of the Amarillo Opera, the Amarillo Symphony and the Lone Star Ballet Company.
- American Quarter Horse Heritage Center and Museum educates visitors about this American horse breed through live demonstrations and hands-on activities.
Amarillo hosts several special events in honor of Texas life and cowboys:
- Tri-State Fair and Rodeo in September
- World Championship Ranch Rodeo in November
- Annual World Championship Chuck Wagon Roundup in June
- Amarillo Livestock Auction held every Tuesday
Institutes of higher learning located in and near Amarillo include:
- Amarillo College
- Wayland Baptist University
- Texas Tech University at Amarillo
- West Texas A&M University's Amarillo Center
Amarillo's newspaper is the Amarillo Globe-News.
Radio stations serving Amarillo are:
- KQIZ-FM (93.1, hip-hop)
- KGNC-FM (97.9, country)
- KXGL-FM (100.9, oldies)
- KMXJ-FM (94.1, contemporary)
- KJJP-FM (105.7, public radio)
- Rock 108 (107.9, rock)
- KACV-FM (89.9, Amarillo College)
- KWTS-FM (91.1, West Texas A&M University)
- KGNC-AM (710, news and talk)