With over 360,000 residents, Wichita is the largest city in Kansas. It is also the county seat of Sedgwick County, and a regional shopping, medical, and entertainment hub for the more than one million people who live within a 100-mile radius. Over the years, Wichita has grown by annexing nearby communities. The city's total land area is currently 160 square miles.
Wichita's roots go back to the arrival of the Santa Fe Railway in 1872. The railroad turned the community into a boom town that processed agriculture products and distributed farm equipment. In 1914, the discovery of oil further expanded the city's economic base. Today, Wichita is a large manufacturing center, with many residents working shift work. Residents enjoy solid educational opportunities, numerous parks, and a cost of living that is slightly below the national average.
Manufacturing accounts for 65,000 jobs, or more than 21 percent of all jobs in the region. The largest sector of the manufacturing industry is aviation. In fact, makers of aircraft and aircraft parts are the three largest employers in the Wichita area. Other major industries include professional and business services, education, healthcare, and leisure and hospitality. Eight companies in the Wichita area employ 3,000 or more workers. They are:
Nearly 20 colleges, universities, and technical schools are located in and around Wichita. Some have just a few hundred students and a few degree programs. Others offer hundreds of fields of study to thousands of students. Major schools include:
Leisure activities abound in Wichita. More than 100 tree-filled city parks and greenways provide 4,300 acres of recreation space. Art lovers can check out museums and theater productions. Sports lovers can grab their golf clubs and head to one of the city's nine public and five private golf courses. Some of the cultural attractions include:
Sports fans have plenty to cheer about in Wichita. Besides NCAA sports at area colleges and universities, the city has two minor-league teams. The Wichita Wingnuts are a member of the American Association of Professional Baseball and play about 48 home games a year at Lawrence Dumont Stadium. The team's inaugural season was 2008. The Wichita Thunder has been playing in the Central Hockey League since its inception in 1992. Home games are played at the 9,686-seat Britt Brown Arena.
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