Wichita Falls, TX
Wichita Falls, the seat of Wichita County, is a north Texas city of about 102,000 people. Located about two hours south of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the was named after a series of waterfalls along the Wichita River that washed away during a flood in the 1800s. By popular demand, the city rebuilt them in 1987.
The construction of the railroad and a subsequent oil boom put this city on the map. In the 1940s the addition of Sheppard Air Force Base brought further growth.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Wichita Falls is made up of hundreds of neighborhoods, some of which can be just a few streets wide. On the whole, the residential areas are quiet and safe, and housing is generally affordable. The city is expanding both to the north and to the southwest.
- Downtown is the business district in the center of the city. It was prime real estate during the oil boom, but the area currently struggles to remain vital. Along with office space, this area is home to a few restaurants and hotels but no residents.
- North Side is around the air force base, where Highways 44 and 287 intersect. This growing area is residential, with average suburban-style homes.
- Country Club Village, centrally located, is one of the historic areas of the city. Many houses here were built with oil money in the first half of the 20th century. These very large homes are on sizeable lots with many trees.
- Lake Wellington is a newer residential neighborhood on the southwest side with typical suburban homes and access to an elementary school.
- Fountain Park on the southwest side off Highway 82 is a mixture of 1970s homes and new construction.
- East Side consists mainly of businesses, with many small mom-and-pop stores and a few residential pockets.
The Sikes Senter Mall is the largest shopping center in the city, with over 80 stores and restaurants and a ten-screen movie theater.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
- The Wichita Falls Ballet Theatre presents dance performances throughout the year, including The Nutcracker each December.
- The Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra is a professional group that performs six concerts throughout the year.
- Wichita Theatre and Opera House sponsors community productions in a Texas Historic Landmark.
- The Backdoor Theatre performs productions year-round, including special dinner theaters.
- A summer outdoor concert series brings musical acts to Weeks Park.
- Kell House Museum preserves the 1909 home and history of Frank Kell, who helped build the city's railroads.
- Museum of North Texas History presents exhibits about the region.
- Wichita Falls Railroad Museum collects the railroad history of the area.
- Wichita Falls Museum of Art focuses on art of the north Texas and southern Oklahoma regions.
- A Home and Garden Show is held each February.
- Red River Rodeo in June is a professional rodeo competition.
- Fourth of July Fireworks and Celebration occur annually at Sheppard Air Force Base.
- The Bluegrass Festival is a music fest in August.
- The Texoma Classics car show is held each September.
- The Shrimp, Wine, and Art Celebration is held in October.
- The Hotter 'N Hell 100 Bike Race and Ride takes over the city with the nation's largest 100-mile road race in August.
The city maintains 37 parks with playgrounds, trails, tennis courts, picnic areas, a skate park, and ball fields. A ten-mile, multiuse trail system runs throughout the city.
- Lake Wichita Park has a model airplane landing strip.
- Kiwanis Park features a designated kite-flying area.
- The 258-acre Weeks Park includes an 18-hole golf course.
- Lake Wichita is on the southwest border of the city and caters to boaters and fishermen.
- Lake Arrowhead State Park, southeast of the city, offers numerous activities on both water and land. Camping is available for both RVs and tents.
- River Bend Nature Center features native plant species and a butterfly conservatory.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Wichita Falls has a large manufacturing base that serves the automotive, oil and gas, construction, and aviation industries. Sheppard Air Force Base, the city's largest employer, runs the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program. The adjacent municipal airport has daily commercial airline service. The health-care sector in Wichita Falls has expanded rapidly since the 1990s, and the city has emerged as the regional health-care services provider.
- Fans of auto sports can watch races either at Red River Speedway, a quarter-mile, semibanked asphalt track, or at Texoma Motor Speedway, a dirt track.
- The Wichita Wildcats play in the North American Hockey League.
- The Wichita Razorbacks, a semiprofessional football team, play in the Texas United Football League.