Topeka, the capital city of Kansas, is a retail, medical, and business hub with a four-season climate and lower-than-average cost of living. Its approximate 122,000 residents enjoy good community services, active churches, and numerous libraries.
Topeka is situated on rich, sandy ground along the Kansas River. During the 1800s, the Oregon Trail crossed the river at Topeka, and ferry boat services prospered. Later, railroads played a major role in Topeka's development.
At times, droughts, tornados, and floods have stopped or slowed growth in the city. One of its worst floods was in the spring of 1903, when 29 people drowned, and hundreds more were trapped in their homes as water in the Kansas River rose. The flood led to the construction of dikes, preventing a repeat of a similar disaster.
Up until World War II, Topeka's economy was largely dependent on agriculture, meat packing, and the railroad. When the war started, the government and the military began playing an important role. Forbes Air Force Base was established, and Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant opened during the war. When Forbes Air Force Base closed in 1974, 10,000 people lost their jobs. But the city recovered and now has a diverse economy that is led by the government, retail, and health-care sectors. Additionally, railroads are still an important industry. One of the largest railroad shops in the world, operated by Burlington Northern Santa Fe, is located in Topeka.
Some of Topeka's major employers include:
Topeka's offers a variety of neighborhoods and housing choices, from historical neighborhoods to new suburbs and downtown housing. More than half the homes in Topeka are owner-occupied, and 65 percent are single-family homes. The median home price is $150,000 -- lower than much of Kansas.
Older neighborhoods like Oakland, Highland Park, and Potwin offer a beautiful, architecturally significant homes built in the late 19th and early 20th century. Shadywood, Clarion, and Macfarland Farms are among the newer neighborhoods. Westboro, Westwood, Tennessee Town, and College Hill are established urban neighborhoods near the city center.
Topeka's major attractions include:
Among Topeka's major museums are:
Washburn University: This broad-based liberal arts school is the only municipally owned university in the country. More than 7,000 students are enrolled, taking classes in nearly 200 programs. Washburn is known for small class sizes, modern teaching techniques, and the unique opportunities that arise from its tight relationship with the city.
University of Kansas: Twenty miles from Topeka, in Lawrence, is the campus of the University of Kansas. Two thousand faculty members teach 30,000 students in 140 fields of study, including business, liberal arts, medicine, and law. Seventy percent of students at the University of Kansas are from Kansas.