Wichita is a city located in Sedgwick County, Kansas. With a 2020 population of 388,771, it is the largest city in Kansas and the 52nd largest city in the United States. Wichita is currently declining at a rate of -0.06% annually but its population has increased by 1.67% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 382,368 in 2010. Wichita reached it's highest population of 390,549 in 2016. Spanning over 166 miles, Wichita has a population density of 2,405 people per square mile.
The average household income in Wichita is $68,821 with a poverty rate of 16.17%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to $789 per month, and the median house value is $128,600. The median age in Wichita is 34.8 years, 33.8 years for males, and 35.8 years for females. For every 100 females there are 97.2 males.
Wichita serves as the county seat of Sedgwick County. Wichita is an industrial hub, and it is also a center of trade, media, and culture. The cost of living in Wichita falls well below the national average.
Wichita Population Growth
Wichita has seen continuous population growth since its incorporation as a city. By the 1930s, the city had well over 100,000 inhabitants. This number had more than doubled by 1960. At the time of the census taken in 1990, the city’s population had grown to over 300,000. Wichita’s growth has slowed slightly since the last census in 2010, but so far, estimates show that the population has risen by 2%. This indicates that while Wichita may not be growing as rapidly as it once was, it still has much growing left to do.
It is believed that the area that is now Wichita was inhabited as far back as 3000 BC. The Wichita people were inhabiting the area when Europeans arrived in 1541. However, the Wichita people left the area and moved south following a conflict with the Osage people during the 1700s. The area was originally claimed by France but was acquired by the US during the Louisiana Purchase.
During the Civil War, the Wichita people returned and built a settlement. A trading post was also established. When the war ended, the Wichita once again relocated to what is now known as Oklahoma. In 1868, another trading post was established and shortly after that, a house was built that was used as a post office, hotel and community center. The population began to grow as hunters and traders saw business opportunities in the area. In 1870, plats outlining the first streets of Wichita were filed and later that year, Wichita was incorporated as a city.
The city’s role as a cattle drive destination and the railroad coming to the area resulted in further population growth. The city expanded into the 1880s as more immigrants came to the area. During this period, Fairmount College was established, later becoming Wichita State University. Friends University was also opened as Garfield University. Before the 1900s arrived, the city had already established itself as the most populous in the state. However, an economic recession resulted in bankruptcy for many of the original settlers.
The city bounced back after oil and natural gas deposits were discovered in the early 1900s. The city became prosperous with the many refineries opened during the 1910s and 1920s. This economic boom led to investment in the airplane manufacturing industry. It soon became a center of the industry and was known as “Air Capital of the World.” The city continued to expand, and the economy flourished over the next few decades.
During World War II, the population grew again as the city was a major manufacturing center. The 19tha and 20th centuries saw the introduction of other brands and businesses, including Lear Jet Corporation, Coleman camping retailer, and franchises including Pizza Hut.
Through the 1990s and 2000s, the city government has partnered with local organizations to redevelop the downtown area and gaining neighborhoods. Additional businesses have made their homes in Wichita and new developments, such as the Intrust Bank Arena, have been built.