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Wichita Business Signs
Wichita straddles the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers in the modern US state of Kansas. Archeological evidence points to habitation of this area as far back as 3000 B.C. In 1541, Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado discovered the area for Europe, and found the Quivira, or Wichita, people, inhabited it already. ‘Wichita’ derives from the Caddoan expression “raccoon-eyed people”, which refers to the tattoos the Wichita wear around their eyes. Eventually, the Wichita were driven out of the area to nearby Oklahoma. James R. Mead, a trader, established a trading post in the Wichita area, and a city formed around it. It was incorporated on July 21st, 1870.
A 2013 US Census estimate put the Wichita population at 386,552. This makes it the largest city in Kansas and the 49th largest city in the country. According to this same estimate, the population of the Wichita metropolitan area is 637,394; while the larger Wichita-Winfield combined statistical area is 673,598. Wichita has the 84th largest metropolitan population in the United States.
Since the 1920s and 30s, Wichita has become known as “The Air Capital of the World.” This is because of all the aircraft manufacturing companies who have made the area their home. These companies include Beechcraft, Cessna Aircraft Co., Textron Aviation, Learjet, Airbus, and Spirit AeroSystems.
Manufacturing, in general, is Wichita’s largest industrial sector. It accounted for 21.6 percent of the area’s employment in 2003, according to a Flightglobal report. The next largest employer in the Wichita area is healthcare, which is responsible for approximately 28,000 jobs. Local institutions in this industry include Kansas Spine Hospital, Wesley Medical Center, and Via Christi Health.
Cargill and Koch Industries, which are the two largest privately held companies in the country, operate their headquarters facilities in the area, as does roller-coaster manufacturer Change Morgan, and other companies such as Dean & Deluca, Alternative Energy Solutions, and Coleman Company.
The city is also famous for hosting the annual Wichita River Festival. This festival, which began in 1972, features music, sports, traveling exhibits, cultural and historical activities, flea markets, and fireworks. Wichita also hosts one of the largest Renaissance Fairs in the country, in conjunction with the ‘Kingdom of Calontir’ from the Society for Creative Anachronism. “The Air Capital of the World” also hosts many aviation-related events as well. These include the Wichita Flight Festival and the military-sponsored McConnell Air Force Base Open House and Airshow.
The city of Wichita also boasts the most popular outdoor tourist attraction in the state of Kansas: The Sedgwick County Zoo. This zoological park houses more than 2,500 animals ranging across 500 different species. Adjacent to the zoo sits Sedgwick County Park and Sedgwick County Extension Arboretum.
One of Wichita’s most unique attractions, however, is ‘The Keeper of the Plains.” This Cor-Ten steel sculpture, which stands 44 ft (13.4 m) high, was built in 1974 by Kiowa-Comanche artist Blackbear Bosin. “The Keeper of the Plains” stands at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers.
Wichita is home to two minor league sports teams. For baseball, the American Association (South Division)’s Wichita Wingnuts play their home games at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. They have one league championship to their name. For hockey, the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder play in Intrust Bank Arena, and have won 3 regular season titles and 2 Ray Miron President’s Cups.
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