Lawrence, Kansas

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Lawrence is the 6th largest city in the U.S. State of Kansas and the county seat of Douglas County. Located in northeastern Kansas, Lawrence is the anchor city of the Lawrence, Kansas Metropolitan Area, which encompasses all of Douglas County. Located 25 miles east of Topeka, Kansas and 41 miles west of Kansas City, Missouri, it is situated along the banks of the Kansas and Wakarusa Rivers. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 87,643.[1] Lawrence is a college town and is the home to the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University.

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Ruins of Free State Hotel after the attack.

Lawrence, Kansas was founded in 1854 for the New England Emigrant Aid Company by Charles Robinson, who later served as governor of Kansas. The city was named after Amos Adams Lawrence, a prominent politician and antislavery partisan and the son of famed philanthropist Amos Lawrence. Lawrence was Robinson's cousin and a major source of funds and support for the new settlement.

In the Bleeding Kansas era, Lawrence was a center of anti-slavery sentiment. On May 21, 1856, a pro-slavery posse led by Sheriff Samuel J. Jones burned the Free-State Hotel, destroyed the equipment of two anti-slavery newspapers, and looted several other businesses in an attack known as the sack of Lawrence; one man was killed, struck dead by a stone falling from the burning hotel. Abolitionist John Brown's nearby Pottawatomie Massacre is believed to have been a reaction to this event. On August 21, 1863, during the American Civil War, Confederate guerrillas led by William Quantrill burned most of the houses and commercial buildings in Lawrence and killed 150 to 200 of the men they found in the Lawrence Massacre. Of historical importance is the University of Kansas's Pioneer Cemetery, perhaps best known for being the final resting place of Thomas Barber, a free-state settler, and Elmer McCollum, KU alumnus who is credited with discovering Vitamin A. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, is buried in East Lawrence in Memorial Park Cemetery.

The University of Kansas was founded in Lawrence in 1865 by the citizens of Lawrence under a charter granted by the Kansas Legislature, with the donation of 40 acres (160,000 m²) of land on Mount Oread by former Kansas Governor Charles Robinson and his wife, Sara, and a small monetary gift from Amos Adams Lawrence. As a college town, Lawrence is known for its liberal philosophy and distinctive culture.

In 1943, German and Italian prisoners of World War II were brought to Kansas and other Midwest states as a means of solving the labor shortage caused by American men serving in the war effort. Large internment camps were established in Kansas: Camp Concordia, Camp Funston (at Fort Riley), Camp Phillips (at Salina under Fort Riley). Fort Riley established 12 smaller branch camps, including Lawrence.[2]

In 1989, when the Free State Brewing Company opened in Lawrence, it was the first legal brewery in Kansas in more than 100 years.[3] The restaurant is in a renovated inter-trolley station in downtown Lawrence. The city is home to the state's only commercial hydro-electric plant.[4]

In the early 1980s Lawrence grabbed national and later world attention because of the television movie The Day After. The TV movie first appeared on ABC but was later shown in movie theaters around the world. The movie depicted what would happen to average Americans, particularly those living in Lawrence and surrounding communities, if the United States was destroyed in a nuclear war. The movie was filmed in Lawrence with help from many people in the community.


Lawrence is situated at Template:Coord (38.959902, -95.253199)Template:GR. This is about 41 miles (66 km) west of Kansas City, and about 20 miles (30 km) east of Topeka. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 28.7 square miles (74.3 km²), of which, 28.1 square miles (72.8 km²) of it is land and 0.6 square miles (1.5 km²) is water, including Potter Lake on the KU campus. The total area is 2.06% water.

Older versions of Google Earth, software that allows the user to "fly" over the surface of the earth, mapped with satellite photography and topographical data, has a default position that, when the program launches, is centered exactly on the city of Lawrence (specifically on Meadowbrook Apartments, lying between Compton Square and Regency Place). This may be verified by running the software and zooming in from the default start position without rotating the virtual globe at all. This location was set by Brian McClendon, a 1986 graduate of the University of Kansas and director of engineering for Google Earth.[5] Newer versions of the program center on Lawrence on the initial run, but center on the user's own location on subsequent launches.

Lawrence's Mount Oread is named after Oread Seminary in Worcester, which was founded by the organization that sent the city's first settlers.[6]

Politics and culture

File:The Polinators mural in Lawrence, KA.jpg
Located in downtown Lawrence, the mural The Polinators was designed by artist David Loewenstein and painted by the community as a tribute to Aaron Douglas and other African-American artists with Kansas roots.

While Kansas is a heavily Republican state, Lawrence is reliably Democratic.[7] Douglas County, where Lawrence is situated, was one of only two counties in Kansas whose majority voted for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election and one of only three that voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 election. Douglas County has supported the Democratic candidate the past five presidential elections.[8][9][10][11][12] Currently, Lawrence is served by both the 2nd and 3rd U.S. Congressional Districts of Kansas. Before reapportionment in 2002, Lawrence sat entirely within the third district.

Lawrence is the only city in the state of Kansas with an ordinance (enacted in 1995, after a campaign called Simply Equal) prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Douglas County, in which Lawrence is located, was the only county in the state to reject the amendment to the Kansas Constitution prohibiting both gay marriage and civil unions in April 2005. The vote against the amendment was primarily in the city of Lawrence; outside the city, the amendment carried in the rest of Douglas County. Lawrence has an active chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition, which persuaded the city commission to approve a domestic partner registry on May 22, 2007. The registry, which took effect Aug. 1, 2007, provides unmarried couples—both same-sex and other-sex—some recognition by the city for legal purposes.

Lawrence also features many characteristics of a college town, such as a radical library and infoshop (the "Solidarity Center",, two microbreweries, and a half dozen locally owned coffeehouses.



The University of Kansas is the largest public university in the state, with a total enrollment of just over 30,000 students (including approximately 3,000 students at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, KS).[13] It has over 170 fields of study and the nationally known Kansas Jayhawks athletics programs. Haskell Indian Nations University offers free tuition to members of registered Native American tribes. However, students are required to pay semester fees similar to many other colleges in the United States. It has an average enrollment of more than 1,000 students representing all 50 states and 150 tribes. Haskell is the home of the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame and the Haskell Cultural Center. Pinnacle Career Institute offers students career training programs in several different fields.

K-12 schools

The Unified School District 497 includes fifteen public grade schools, four junior high schools: Central, West, South, and Southwest, and two high schools: Lawrence High School and Lawrence Free State High School.[14] The athletic teams of the former are nicknamed the Chesty Lions, and those of the latter are the Firebirds. Both schools are Class 6A in enrollment size, and Lawrence High School leads the State of Kansas in most state championships won, with 103 championships.Template:Citation needed The Lawrence High School football team also leads the nation with most undefeated seasons at 31, though all of these occurred before Free State High School came into existence. Private high schools include Bishop Seabury Academy, which is affiliated with the Episcopal Church, and Veritas Christian School. There is also St. John Catholic School, which teaches grades 1 through 6 and is funded by the Catholic communities of Lawrence and Corpus Christi Catholic School. Raintree Montessori School is a secular private school which teaches preschool through grade 6. The Prairie Moon School is a Waldorf school near Lawrence.


Passenger train service is provided by Amtrak at the Lawrence Amtrak station.

Two bus systems operate in the city; "The T" is a public bus system operated by the city and "KU On Wheels" is operated by the University of Kansas.[15][16] As of fall 2008, both bus systems are free to KU students.[17] Both the "T" and "KU On Wheels" are owned by MV Transportation in California. The Greyhound Lines has a bus stop in Lawrence.[18]

Lawrence Municipal Airport is located north of the city, immediately north of I-70. The nearest airport with regular commercial traffic is Kansas City International Airport, located 36 miles to the north east (approximately 50 miles by car).



Sites of interest

Downtown Lawrence, in particular Massachusetts Street, has a lively atmosphere and is filled with restaurants, bars, galleries, shops and music venues.

The Bowersock Dam on the Kansas River provides hydropower to riverfront businesses like the Lawrence Journal-World. The city is also home to the Free State Brewery.

The Lawrence Public Library is located in downtown Lawrence.

Kansas students celebrate the Jayhawks' victory in the 2008 Final Four on Massachusetts Street.

The University of Kansas campus is home to many museums, including the KU Natural History Museum and the Spencer Museum of Art. The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics houses various artifacts from the life of the former Kansas Senator. Another site of interest is the Lawrence Arts Center. It has daytime activities, organized plays and acts, and an art gallery filled with artwork created by the townspeople.

The historic Union Pacific Depot, 402 North Second, was opened on November 13, 1889. Designed by noted American architect, Henry Van Brunt, the depot continued in service as a passenger station until 1971. The depot survived the devastaing floods of 1903 and 1951. The building was saved for posterity and the newly renovated depot opened in 1996. The building houses the Lawrence Visitors Information Center, an important source for information on the area and other cultural and historic attractions throughout the state of Kansas. The depot also has a display of artifacts found during the renovation, as well as a display featuring the history of the depot and local transportation. It is opened to the public.

Sister cities

Lawrence has three sister cities through Sister Cities International:[19]

Lawrence has one unofficial sister city through US-El Salvador Sister Cities

Notable people

In popular culture

  • In the 1983 TV movie The Day After, Lawrence was ravaged by fallout from detonations of nearby Soviet nuclear bombs, including one which destroyed Kansas City, Missouri. The TV movie was shot on location in and around Lawrence, and many locals were used to play small roles or perform as extras.
  • The protagonist brothers of the 2005 TV show Supernatural hail from Lawrence, and the city's significance has been referenced numerous times throughout the show's history.
  • Lawrence was also destroyed in the 2006 TV Series Jericho: In the seventh episode of the series, it is mentioned that Lawrence was destroyed by a nuclear blast. Some exterior shots for the CBS series Jericho were filmed in Lawrence.[22]
  • There is a song entitled Lawrence KS on the 2002 album Golden Age of Radio by American folk singer Josh Ritter
  • From 1947 until 1981, Lawrence was the location of the Centron Corporation, one of the major industrial and educational film production companies in the United States at the time. The studio was founded by two University of Kansas graduates and employed university students and faculty members as advisers and actors. Also, many talented local and area filmmakers were given their first chances to make movies with Centron, and some stayed for decades. Others went on to successful careers in Hollywood. One of these local residents, Herk Harvey, was employed by Centron as a director for 35 years and in the middle of his tenure there he made a full-length theatrical film, Carnival of Souls, a horror cult film shot mostly in Lawrence and released in 1962. The Centron Corporation soundstage and residing building is now called Oldfather Studios and houses the University of Kansas film program.
  • Lawrence and the Jayhawks have been spotted several times on Saturday Night Live, including a sketch with Jack Black set at The Wheel (a popular student bar).[23] These appearances are the handiwork of Jason Sudeikis, SNL writer and performer, an Overland Park, KS native.
  • Lawrence is the setting for a number of science fiction writer James Gunn's novels, including The Immortals (1964) , basis for the ABC television movie and TV series "The Immortal" (1969–1971). Gunn teaches at the University of Kansas.

See also



Further reading

External links

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  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Census2010
  2. List of Prisoner Of War (POW) Camps in Kansas
  5. [1]
  6. Mount Oread’s name precedes that of city, Lawrence Journal-World, 2004-09-13. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
  7. Two Kansas counties stand alone...
  8. 2004 Presidential Election Results
  9. 2000 Presidential Election Results
  10. 1996 Presidential Election Results
  11. 1992 Presidential Election Results
  12. 2008 Presidential Election Results
  13. [2]
  15. "The T" Lawrence City Bus System
  16. "KU On Wheels" University Bus System
  17. "KU On Wheels" Fares
  18. Greyhound Lines - Bus stops in Kansas
  20. Template:Cite web
  22. [3]
  23. Saturday Night fever