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Lawrence Business Signs
The Pawnee, Shawnee, Kansa and Osage Peoples lived in the area which would become the territory and later the state of Kansas. The area of northeastern Kansas, which would eventually become the city of Lawrence, was part of the Shawnee Indian Reservation. The area was also part of the Oregon Trail.
The New England Emigrant Aid Company commissioned Dr. Charles Robinson and Charles Branscomb to find a suitable site for a city in Kansas Territory. They found it in July of 1854. Initially they thought to call it ‘Wakarusa,’ or ‘Yankee Town,’ or ‘New Boston’, or ‘Plymouth’, but eventually they settled on Lawrence. Lawrence was named in honor of Amos A. Lawrence, who was one of the New England Emigrant Aid Company’s most valuable benefactors. According to A.T. Andreas’s book 1883 Cutler’s History of Kansas, Douglas County, Early Settlers, Lawrence’s “name sounded well and had no bad odor attached to it in any part of the Union.”
Interestingly, Lawrence was founded during a period of tumult for the Kansas Territory. This “Bleeding Kansas” or “Bloody Kansas” era was a border war between anti-slavery “Free-Staters” and pro-slavery “Border Ruffian” or “Southern Yankees” just prior to the American Civil War. In fact, Lawrence was the site of ‘the Wakarusa War’ during this era. Following this time, during the Civil War, Lawrence suffered the ‘Lawrence Massacre’ which occured when Confederate soldiers slaughtered civilians in the city due to its historic anti-slavery stance.
Fortunately, modern day Lawrence, Kansas is a fair bit quieter. Though it is bigger. According to a 2015 estimate by the US Census Bureau, Lawrence has a total population of 93,917 people. This makes it the sixth largest city in the state. According to that same 2015 report, Lawrence’s metropolitan area has a total population of 118,053 people.
Today, Lawrence, Kansas is best known as being a college town. However, there are a few prominent private employers in the area. Lawrence’s top private employers are General Dynamics, Lawrence Public Schools, the City of Lawrence, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, and Hallmark Cards (whose headquarters are located in Kansas City, Missouri).
The largest employer of any kind in the city of Lawrence, though, is undoubtedly the University of Kansas. The University of Kansas, or KU, is a public research university – the largest of its kind in Kansas. Its main campus is located in Lawrence. KU was established on March 21st, 1865 under a charter granted by the Kansas State Legislature. As of 2015, KU had a $1.86 billion endowment with 28,091 students enrolled in total. There are 2,663 academic staff. The Kansas Jayhawks are KU’s athletic teams. They have eleven NCAA team national championships to their names.
KU is not the only university located in the city of Lawrence, however. Lawrence also serves as the home of Haskell Indian Nations University. This land-grant tribal university was established in 1884. Originally referred to as United States Indian Industrial Training School, Haskell Indian Nations University currently has 1,000 students enrolled in total – all of which are “members of federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States.” Currently, Haskell Indian Nations University is a North Central Association-accredited institution offering associate and baccalaureate degrees.
Lawrence, Kansas isn’t completely about its colleges. In fact, according to NPR and the Huffington Post, back in December of 2005, Lawrence announced “International Dadaism Month,” in honor of the early 20th century art movement. “In the spirit of Dada, rather than select a typical calendar month for the occasion, Lawrence set the dates for the ‘month’ as February 4th, March 28th, April 1st, July 15th, August 2nd, August 7th, August 16th, August 26th, September 18th, September 22nd, October 1st, October 17th, and October 26th, determined by rolling dice and pulling numbers out of a hat.”
Perhaps Lawrence is completely about its colleges after all…
Lawrence, Kansas does not have the honor of having a professional sports franchise. The city, is, however, known for producing such musical acts, bands, and artists as Mansion, Mates of State, The New Amsterdams, Kansas, Fourth of July, White Flight, The Anniversary, Minus Story, The Appleseed Cast, La Guerre, Old Canes, Ad Astra Per Aspera, Ghosty, The Esoteric, and The Get Up Kids.
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