Topeka is a city located in the state of Kansas. It is the county seat for Shawnee County, and it is also the state capital. Recent estimates show that the population of the city is 127,473.
As with other cities located in the Great Plains, Topeka was initially inhabited by native tribes. The land that is now Kansas changed ownership several times throughout the 16th and 18th centuries. At the beginning of the 19th century, ownership went to the United States following the Louisiana Purchase.
It was during the 1840s when a ferry service was established crossing the Kansas River. While settlers could cross the river, the area that is now Topeka was not yet developed. It was when a military road was developed in the 1850s when the area was settled. A cabin was built in 1854 and the Topeka Town Association was established. It was during the next decade when the city became a hub for commercial activity.
It was also during this time when the state was admitted to the Union and was the 34th state in the United States. Topeka was selected as the capital. The construction of the capitol building began in 1866 but took 37 years to complete.
Population growth was slow because of a drought in the 1860s and the Civil War. However, once the war was over the city began to grow. During this time, many former slaves settled in Topeka, and Washburn University was also established as the population and the city itself grew. A depression in the late 19th century could have been disastrous but residents made it through, and the population doubled.
The population continued to grow with the introduction of the automobile industry, with Topeka serving as the site of the Smith Automobile Company, which was in business for ten years. Another notable fact about Topeka at this time was that it was the site of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, a Supreme Court case that overturned Plessy vs. Ferguson and made racial segregation in schools illegal. However, despite the court ruling, racial discrimination continued to burden the city for many years.
The city was struck by a devastating tornado in 1966. The city suffered about $100 million in damage because of the tornado and was one of the most expensive in history. However, the city did recover, and its economy and population continued to grow. However, the 1970s saw a drop in population with the closing of Forbes Air Force Base, with more than 10,000 people leaving the city. Population and the city grew again in the next decade with the construction of a mall, airport and convention center.
Today, the city continues to grow as more jobs are created, and the city plans to redevelop many areas, including the State Capitol.
Topeka Population Statistics
Topeka has a population of over 126,000 residents. The city’s total area is over 61 square miles, and it has a population density of 2,100 people per square mile.
People between the ages of 25 to 44 make up the largest age group, accounting for over 26% of the population. Nearly one-quarter of the population is under 18, while 14.3% are at least 75 years old. There are more females than males living in Topeka, with women making up 52.2% of the population. Approximately 8.5% of Topeka’s population lives below the federal poverty line.
The city’s top employer is the State of Kansas, employing more than 8,000 people. Over 22% of residents work in the educational, health and social services industry, with the city’s four school districts employing about 4,700 people and Washburn University providing around 1,650 jobs.
Topeka Population Growth
Topeka’s population has seen its ups and downs throughout the years, with some censuses showing significant, rapid growth while others reflect smaller percentages of growth or even declining numbers. Most recently, the population is down 0.5% since the 2010 census. However, this downward trend is not expected to continue, although a rapid growth of the city is not likely any time in the near future.