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—  City  —
Topeka Skyline from Burnett's Mound


Nickname(s): Capitol City, T-Town, Top City
Coordinates: 39°03′21″N 95°41′22″W / 39.05583°N 95.68944°W / 39.05583; -95.68944Coordinates: 39°03′21″N 95°41′22″W / 39.05583°N 95.68944°W / 39.05583; -95.68944
Country United States
State Kansas
County Shawnee
Founded December 5, 1854
Incorporated February 14, 1857
 - Mayor Bill Bunten (R)
 - City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr.
 - City 57.0 sq mi (147.6 km2)
 - Land 56.0 sq mi (145.1 km2)
 - Water 1.0 sq mi (2.5 km2)
Elevation 945 ft (288 m)
Population (2006)
 - City 122,113
 Density 2,180/sq mi (841.8/km2)
 Urban 142,411
 Metro 226,268
  (Urban is Census 2000)
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP Codes 66601-66612, 66614-66622, 66624-66626, 66628-66629, 66636-66637, 66642, 66647, 66652-66653, 66667, 66675, 66683, 66692, 66699
Area code(s) 785
FIPS code 20-71000[1]
GNIS feature ID 0485477[2]

Topeka (Kansa: Tó Ppí Kˀé) is the capital city of the U.S. state of Kansas and the county seat of Shawnee County. It is situated along the Kansas River in the central part of Shawnee County, located in northeast Kansas, in the Central United States. The population was 122,377 at the 2000 census, and it was estimated to be 122,647 in the 2007 census. The Topeka Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Shawnee, Jackson, Jefferson, Osage, and Wabaunsee counties, had an estimated population of 226,268 in the year 2003. Three ships of the US Navy have been named USS Topeka in honor of the city.

Topeka means "to dig good potatoes" in the languages of the Kansa and the Ioway. The potato referred to is the prairie potato, Psoralea esculenta, a perennial herb which is an important food for many Native Americans. As a placename, Topeka was first recorded in 1826 as the Kansa name for what is now called the Kansas River. Topeka's founders chose the name in 1855 because it "was novel, of Indian origin and euphonious of sound."[3][4] The city, laid out in 1854, was one of the Free-State towns founded by Eastern antislavery men immediately after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. In 1857, Topeka was chartered as a city.

On March 1, 2010, Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten issued a proclamation calling for Topeka to be known for the month of March as "Google, Kansas, the capital city of fiber optics."[5] This was to help "support continuing efforts to bring Google's fiber experiment" to Topeka, though it was not a legal name change. Lawyers advised the city council and mayor against an official name change.[6]



19th century

In the 1840s, wagon trains made their way west from Independence, Missouri, on a 2,000 miles (3,000 km) journey following what would come to be known as the Oregon Trail. About 60 miles (97 km) west of Kansas City, Missouri, three half Kansas Indian sisters married to the French-Canadian Pappan brothers established a ferry service allowing travelers to cross the Kansas River at what is now Topeka. During the 1840s and into the 1850s, travelers could reliably find a way across the river (and plenty of moonshine) but little else was in the area.

In the early 1850s, traffic along the Oregon Trail was supplemented by trade on a new military road stretching from Fort Leavenworth through Topeka to the newly-established Fort Riley. In 1854, after completion of the first cabin, nine men established the Topeka Town Association. Included among them was Cyrus K. Holliday, an "idea man" who would become mayor of Topeka and founder of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. Soon, steamboats were regularly docking at the Topeka landing, depositing meat, lumber, and flour and returning eastward with potatoes, corn, and wheat. By the late 1860s, Topeka had become a commercial hub providing many Victorian era comforts.

After a decade of abolitionist and pro-slavery conflict that gave the territory the nickname Bleeding Kansas, Kansas was admitted to the Union in 1861 as the 34th state. Topeka was finally chosen as the capital, with Dr. Charles Robinson as the first governor. In 1862, Cyrus K. Holliday donated a tract of land to the state for the construction of a state capitol. Construction of the Kansas State Capitol began in 1866. It would take 37 years to build the capitol, first the east wing, and then the west wing, and finally the central building, using Kansas limestone.

Old Governor's Mansion (1887), replaced by Cedar Crest in 1963 and demolished the following year
Bird's-eye view in 1909

State officers first used the state capitol in 1869, moving from Constitution Hall - Topeka, what is now 427-429 S. Kansas Avenue. Besides being used as the Kansas statehouse from 1863 to 1869, Constitution Hall is the site where anti-slavery settlers convened in 1855 to write the first of four state constitutions, making it the "Free State Capitol." The National Park Service recognizes Constitution Hall - Topeka as headquarters in the operation of the Lane Trail to Freedom on the Underground Railroad, the chief slave escape passage and free trade road.

Although the drought of 1860 and the ensuing period of the Civil War slowed the growth of Topeka and the state, Topeka kept pace with the revival and period of growth that Kansas enjoyed from the close of the war in 1865 until 1870. Lincoln College, now Washburn University, was established in 1865 in Topeka by a charter issued by the State of Kansas and the General Association of Congregational Ministers and Churches of Kansas. In 1869, the railway started moving westward from Topeka, where general offices and machine shops of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad system were established in 1878.

During the late 1880s, Topeka passed through a boom period that ended in disaster. There was vast speculation on town lots. The 1889 bubble burst and many investors were ruined. Topeka, however, doubled in population during the period and was able to weather the depressions of the 1890s.

Early in the 20th Century, another kind of boom, this time the automobile industry, took off, and numerous pioneering companies appeared and disappeared. Topeka was not left out. The Smith Automobile Company was founded there in 1902, lasting until 1912.

20th century

Home to the first African-American kindergarten west of the Mississippi River, Topeka became the home of Linda Brown, the named plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education which was the case responsible for eliminating the standard of "separate but equal", and requiring racial integration in American public schools.

At the time the suit was filed, only the elementary schools were segregated in Topeka, and that Topeka High School had been fully integrated since its inception in 1871. Furthermore, Topeka High School was the only public high school in inner-city Topeka. Other rural high schools existed at that time, such as Washburn Rural High School—created in 1918—and Seaman High School—created in 1920. Highland Park High School became part of the Topeka school system in 1959 along with the opening of Topeka West High School in 1961. A Catholic high school—Assumption High School, later renamed Capitol Catholic High School, then Hayden High School after its founder, Father Francis Hayden in 1939—also served the city beginning in 1911.[7]

Monroe Elementary, a segregated school that figured in the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision, is now Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site with interpretive exhibits. The national historic site was opened by President George W. Bush on May 17, 2004.

Topeka has struggled with the burden of racial discrimination even after Brown. New lawsuits attempted unsuccessfully to force suburban school districts that ring the city to participate in racial integration with the inner city district. In the late 1980s a group of citizens calling themselves the Task Force to Overcome Racism in Topeka formed to address the problem in a more organized way.

1966 Topeka tornado

On June 8, 1966, Topeka was struck by an F5 rated tornado, according to the Fujita scale. It started on the southwest side of town, moving northeast, passing over a local landmark named Burnett's Mound. According to a local Indian legend, this mound was thought to protect the city from tornadoes. It went on to rip through the city, hitting the downtown area and Washburn University. Total dollar cost was put at $100 million making it, at the time, one of the costliest tornadoes in American history. Even to this day, with inflation factored in, the Topeka tornado stands as one of the costliest on record. It also helped bring to prominence future CBS and A&E broadcaster Bill Kurtis, who became well known for his televised admonition to "take cover, for God's sake, take cover" on WIBW-TV during the tornado. (The city is home of a National Weather Service Forecast Office that serves 23 counties in north-central, northeast, and east-central Kansas).

Topeka recovered from the 1966 tornado and has sustained steady economic growth. Washburn University, which lost several historic buildings from the tornado, received financial support from the community and alumni to rebuild many school facilities. Today, university facilities offer more than one million square feet of modern academic and support space.

In 1974, Forbes Air base closed and more than 10,000 people left Topeka, influencing the city’s growth patterns for years to come. During the 1980’s, Topeka citizens voted to build a new airport and convention center and to change the form of city government. West Ridge Mall opened in 1988 and in 1989 Topeka became a motorsports mecca with the opening of Heartland Park Topeka. The Topeka Performing Arts Center opened in 1991. In the early 1990’s the city experienced business growth with Reser’s Fine Foods locating in Topeka and expansions for Santa Fe and Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

Skyline at night

During the 1990s voters approved bond issues for public school improvements including magnet schools, technology, air conditioning, classrooms, and a sports complex. Voters also approved a quarter-cent sales tax for a new Law Enforcement Center, and in 1996 approved an extension of the sales tax for the East Topeka Interchange connecting the Oakland Expressway, K-4, I-70, and the Kansas Turnpike. During the 1990s Shawnee county voters approved tax measures to expand the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. The Kansas Legislature and Governor also approved legislation to replace the majority of the property tax supporting Washburn University with a countywide sales tax.

21st century

The Charles Curtis State Office Building (2001), facing the capitol

In 2000 the citizens again voted to extend the quarter-cent sales tax, this time for the economic development of Topeka and Shawnee County. In August, 2004, Shawnee County citizens voted to repeal the 2000 quarter-cent sales tax and replace it with a 12- year half-cent sales tax designated for economic development, roads, and bridges. Each year the sales tax funds provide $5 million designated for business development job creation incentives, and $9 million for roads and bridges. Planning is under way to continue to redevelop areas along the Kansas River, which runs west to east through Topeka. In the Kansas River Corridor through the center of town, Downtown Topeka has experienced apartment and condominium loft development, and façade and streetscape improvements. On the other side of the river, Historic North Topeka has benefited from a major streetscape project and the renovated Great Overland Station, regarded as the finest representation of classic railroad architecture in Kansas. The Great Overland Station is directly across the river from the State Capitol, which is undergoing an eight-year, $283 million renovation.


Topeka from Space

Topeka is located at 39°03′N 95°41′W / 39.05°N 95.683°W / 39.05; -95.683.[8] Topeka is in north east Kansas at the intersection of I-70 and U.S. Highway 75. It is the origin of I-335 which is a portion of the Kansas Turnpike running from Topeka to Emporia, Kansas. Topeka is also located on U.S. Highway 24 and U.S. Highway 40. 40 is coincident with I-70 west from Topeka. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 57.0 square miles (148 km2), of which 56.0 square miles (145 km2) is land and 1.0 square mile (2.6 km2), or 1.70%, is water.[1]


In 2007, Forbes Magazine named Topeka as one of the leading U.S. cities in terms of having the biggest variations in temperature, precipitation, and wind.[9] Topeka has a humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa), with hot, somewhat humid summers and cool to cold, fairly dry winters. Over the course of a year, temperatures range from an average low of about 17 °F (−8 °C) in January to an average high of nearly 90 °F (32 °C) in July. The maximum temperature reaches 90 °F (32 °C) an average of 45 days per year and reaches 100 °F (38 °C) an average of 4 days per year. The minimum temperature falls below the freezing point (32 °F) an average of 117 days per year. Typically the first fall freeze occurs between the last week of September and the end of October, and the last spring freeze occurs between the first week of April and early May.

The area receives nearly 36 inches (91 cm) of precipitation during an average year with the largest share being received in May and June—the April through June period averages 32 days of measurable precipitation. Generally, the spring and summer months have the most rainfall, with autumn and winter being fairly dry. During a typical year the total amount of precipitation may be anywhere from 25 to 47 inches (63 to 120 cm). Much of the rainfall is delivered by thunderstorms. These can be severe, producing frequent lightning, large hail, and sometimes tornadoes. There are on average 100 days of measurable precipitation per year. Winter snowfall is light, as is the case in most of the state, not due to lack of sufficient cold temperatures, but due to the dry, sunny weather patterns that dominate Kansas winters, that do not allow for sufficient moisture for significant snowfall. Winter snowfall averages almost 20 inches (51 cm), but the median is less than 11 inches (28 cm). Measurable snowfall occurs an average of 15 days per year with at least an inch of snow being received on seven of those days. Snow depth of at least an inch occurs an average of 26 days per year.

Source: Monthly Station Climate Summaries, 1971-2000, U.S. National Climatic Data Center
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Temperatures °F (°C)
Mean high 37.2 (2.9) 43.8 (6.6) 55.5 (13.1) 66.1 (18.9) 75.3 (24.1) 84.5 (29.2) 89.1 (31.7) 87.9 (31.1) 80.3 (26.8) 68.9 (20.5) 53.1 (11.7) 40.9 (4.9) 65.2 (18.4)
Mean low 17.2 (−8.2) 23.0 (−5.0) 32.9 (0.5) 42.9 (6.1) 53.4 (11.9) 63.2 (17.3) 67.7 (19.8) 65.4 (18.6) 55.9 (13.3) 44.3 (6.8) 32.1 (0.1) 21.8 (−5.7) 43.3 (6.3)
Highest recorded 73 (23)
84 (29)
89 (32)
95 (35)
97 (36)
107 (42)
110 (43)
110 (43)
109 (43)
96 (36)
85 (29)
73 (23)
110 (43)
Lowest recorded −20 (−29)
−23 (−31)
−7 (−22)
10 (−12)
26 (−3)
42 (6)
43 (6)
41 (5)
29 (−2)
19 (−7)
2 (−17)
−26 (−32)
−26 (−32)
Precipitation inches (milimeters)
Median 0.90 (22.9) 0.89 (22.6) 2.09 (53.1) 3.04 (77.2) 4.41 (112.0) 4.81 (122.2) 2.90 (73.6) 3.99 (101.3) 2.94 (74.7) 3.25 (82.55) 2.17 (55.1) 1.19 (30.2) 36.57 (928.9)
Mean number of days 6.2 6.1 9.2 10.1 11.8 10.5 8.6 8.7 7.9 7.2 7.3 6.4 100.0
Highest monthly 2.67 (67.8)
3.49 (88.6)
8.44 (214.4)
8.69 (220.7)
11.81 (299.97)
10.91 (277.1)
10.98 (278.89)
11.18 (283.97)
12.71 (322.8)
7.24 (183.9)
5.64 (143.2)
4.30 (109.2)
Snowfall inches (centimeters)
Median 3.8 (9.65) 2.4 (6.09) 0.9 (2.28) 0.0 (0.0) 0.0 (0.0) 0.0 (0.0) 0.0 (0.0) 0.0 (0.0) 0.0 (0.0) 0.0 (0.0) 0.2 (0.51) 3.6 (9.14) 10.9 (27.7)
Mean number of days 4.5 3.2 1.7 0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.5 3.5 15.0
Highest monthly 17.3 (43.9)
22.4 (56.9)
7.8 (19.8)
4.5 (11.4)
0.0 (0.0) 0.0 (0.0) 0.0 (0.0) 0.0 (0.0) 0.0 (0.0) 8.0 (20.3)
9.4 (23.9)
18.8 (47.7)
Notes: Temperatures are in degrees Fahrenheit and in parenthesis, degrees Celsius. Precipitation includes rain and melted snow or sleet in inches and in parenthesis, centimeters; median values are provided for precipitation and snowfall because mean averages may be misleading. Mean and median values are for the 30-year period 1971–2000; temperature extremes are for the station's period of record (1948–2001). The station is located at Topeka Billard Municipal Airport at 39°4′N 95°38′W, elevation 881 feet (269 m).


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1860 759
1870 5,790 662.8%
1880 15,452 166.9%
1890 31,007 100.7%
1900 33,608 8.4%
1910 43,684 30.0%
1920 50,022 14.5%
1930 64,120 28.2%
1940 67,833 5.8%
1950 78,791 16.2%
1960 119,484 51.6%
1970 125,011 4.6%
1980 115,266 −7.8%
1990 119,883 4.0%
2000 122,377 2.1%
Est. 2008 123,446 0.9%

Topeka's population was estimated to be 122,113 in the year 2006, a decrease of 988, or -0.8%, over the previous six years.[11]

As of the U.S. Census in 2000,[1] there were 122,377 people, 52,190 households, and 30,687 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,185.0 people per square mile (843.6/km²). There were 56,435 housing units at an average density of 1,007.6/sq mi (389.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 78.5% White, 11.7% Black or African American, 1.31% Native American, 1.09% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 4.06% from other races, and 3.26% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 19.86% of the population.

There were 52,190 households out of which 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.8% were married couples living together, 13.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.2% were non-families. 35.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the city the population is spread out with 24.3% under the age of 18, 9.9% from 18 to 24, 28.9% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 92.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,928, and the median income for a family was $45,803. Males had a median income of $32,373 versus $25,633 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,555. About 8.5% of families and 12.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.7% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.


Being the state's capital city, Topeka's largest employer is the State of Kansas—employing about 8,400 people,[12] or 69% of the city's government workers. Altogether, government workers make up one out of every five employed persons in the city.[1]

The educational, health and social services industry makes up the largest proportion of the working population (22.4%[1]). The four school districts employ nearly 4,700 people, and Washburn University employs about 1,650.[12] Three of the largest employers are Stormont-Vail HealthCare (with about 3,100 employees), St. Francis Health Center (1,800), and Colmery-O'Neil VA Hospital (900).[12]

The retail trade employs more than a tenth of the working population (11.5%[1]) with Wal-Mart and Dillons having the greater share. Nearly another tenth is employed in manufacturing (9.0%[1]). Top manufacturers include Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Payless ShoeSource, Jostens Printing and Publishing, Hill's Pet Nutrition, and Frito-Lay. Southwest Publishing & Mailing Corporation, a smaller employer, has its headquarters in Topeka.

Other industries are finance, insurance, real estate, and rental and leasing (7.8%); professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services (7.6%); arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services (7.2%); construction (6.0%); transportation and warehousing, and utilities (5.8%); and wholesale trade (3.2%).[1] Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas is the largest insurance employer, with about 1,800 employees.[12]. BNSF Railway is the largest transportation employer, with about 1,100.[12] Westar Energy employs nearly 800[12]. About a tenth of the working population is employed in public administration (9.9%[1]).

Companies based in Topeka:

Arts and culture


Topeka is sometimes cited as the home of Pentecostalism as it was the site of Charles Fox Parham's Bethel Bible College, where glossolalia was first claimed as the evidence of a spiritual experience referred to as the baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1901. It is also the home of Reverend Charles Sheldon, author of In His Steps, and was the site where the famous question "What would Jesus do?" originated in a sermon of Sheldon's at Central Congregational Church. The First Presbyterian Church in Topeka is one of the very few churches in the U.S. to have its sanctuary completely decorated with Tiffany stained glass (another is St. Luke's United Methodist in Dubuque, Iowa). It is also the home of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church. Topeka also has a claim in the history of the Baha'i Faith in Kansas. Not only does the city have the oldest, continuous Baha'i community in Kansas (beginning in 1906), but that community has roots to the first Baha'i community in Kansas, in Enterprise, Kansas in 1897. This was the second Baha'i community in the western hemisphere. Topeka is also home to vibrant Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu communities and one of the oldest, truly inter-faith organizations in the country.

Points of interest

The capitol building, built 1866-1906


Club Sport League
Kansas Koyotes Indoor Football American Professional Football League
Topeka Golden Giants Baseball Independent Collegiate Summer Wood Bat
Topeka Mudcats Football Women's Spring Football League
Topeka Roadrunners Ice hockey North American Hockey League



Topeka is the home of a daily newspaper, the Topeka Capital-Journal, and a bi-weekly newspaper, The Topeka Metro News.


The following radio stations are licensed to Topeka:


Frequency Callsign[13] Format[14] Notes
580 WIBW News/Talk
1440 KMAJ News/Talk
1490 KTOP Sports


Frequency Callsign[15] Format[14] Notes
88.1 KJTY Contemporary Christian
89.5 K208FE Christian Translator of KAWZ, Twin Falls, Idaho
90.3 KBUZ Christian AFR
94.5 WIBW-FM Country
99.3 KWIC Classic Hits
100.3 KDVV AOR
106.9 KTPK Classic Country


The following television stations are licensed to Topeka:

Digital Channel Analog Channel Callsign[16] Network Notes
33 K33IC TBN
43 KTMJ-CA Fox
48; 49 (Virtual) KTKA-TV ABC


The chief executives of Topeka are Mayor Bill Bunten (R) and City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr.


Although Topeka experienced problems with crime in the 1990s, the city's crime rates have improved in the past decade. The city is now breaking trends when it comes to violent crime, so much so that it has gained the interest of researchers from Michigan State University. Since 2000, most cities with a population greater than 100,000 have seen an increase in violent crimes. Topeka's crime rates are decreasing. Researchers credit good communication between law enforcement agencies, informed media outlets, and strong community involvement for Topeka's success. Topeka was one of four cities, along with Chicago, Tampa, and El Monte, California to be studied.

Overall, crime in Topeka was down nearly 18 percent in the first half of 2008, compared with the same period of 2007. Crime was down 9.8 percent in 2007, as compared to 2006.[citation needed] The Topeka Capital Journal reported in January 2009 that "An overall drop in crime last year and a new district attorney could add up to trouble for Topeka's criminals in 2009. Topeka police reported a 6.4 percent drop in crime from 2007 to 2008, including significant reductions in business robberies and aggravated assaults and batteries, as well as thefts."[citation needed]


Topeka is served by four public school districts including:

  • USD 345 Seaman (Serving North Topeka)
  • USD 437 Auburn-Washburn (Serving west and southwest Topeka)
  • USD 450 Shawnee Heights (Serving extreme east and southeast Topeka)
  • USD 501 Topeka. (Serving inner-city Topeka)

Topeka is also home to several private and parochial schools such as Cair Paravel-Latin School. There are also elementary and junior high schools supported by other Christian denominations. Hayden High School, a Catholic High School is also located in Topeka. Topeka has several colleges, universities and technical schools including Washburn University, Bryan College, Washburn Institute of Technology (Formerly Kaw Area Technical School), and the Baker University School of Nursing.


I-70 Viaduct going through Downtown Topeka

I-70, I-470, and I-335 all go through the City of Topeka. I-335 is part of the Kansas Turnpike where it passes through Topeka. Other major highways include: US-24, US-40, US-75, and K-4. Major roads within the city include NW/SW Topeka Blvd. SW Wanamaker Road. N/S Kansas Ave. SW/SE 29th St. SE/SW 21st St. SE California Ave. SW Gage Blvd. and SW Fairlawn Rd.

Philip Billard Municipal Airport (TOP) is located in the Oakland area of Topeka and Forbes Field (FOE) is located in south Topeka in Pauline, Kansas. Passenger air service is not currently available. Service may be added in the near future. Forbes Field also serves as an Air National Guard base, home of the highly decorated 190th Air Refueling Wing. Kansas City International Airport (MCI) is the closest commercial airport.

Passenger rail service provided by Amtrak stops at the Topeka Station. Current service is via the Chicago-to-Los Angeles Southwest Chief during the early morning hours. However, the Kansas Department of Transportation recently asked Amtrak to study additional service options, including daytime service to Oklahoma City.[17] Freight service is provided by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad and Union Pacific Railroad.

Bus service is provided by Greyhound Lines. City bus service provided by Topeka Transit.


In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ Topeka's Roots: the Prairie Potato — Barbara Burgess
  4. ^ King, Dick (2005) "Topeka" rooted in spuds. Topeka Capital-Journal, 20 Nov.
  5. ^ Topeka Capitol Journal Online [1]
  6. ^ Siegler, MG. We’re Not In Kansas Anymore. Well, We Are — Google, Kansas. TechCrunch. 1 March 2010.
  7. ^ Hayden History
  8. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ 2008 census estimate
  11. ^ "Population Estimates". U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division.  Annual estimates of the population to 2006-07-01. Released 2007-06-28. Population change is from 2000-07-01 to 2006-07-01.
  12. ^ a b c d e f "Largest Employers". Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce. 
  13. ^ "AMQ AM Radio Database Query". Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  14. ^ a b "Station Information Profile". Arbitron. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  15. ^ "FMQ FM Radio Database Query". Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  16. ^ "TVQ TV Database Query". Federal Communications Commission. Retrieved 2009-09-18. 
  17. ^ Amtrak - Inside Amtrak - News & Media - News Releases - Latest News Releases
  18. ^ Topeka Capitol Journal Online
  19. ^

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Topeka [1] is the capital of Kansas.


Check the weather forecast for Topeka from NOAA.

Topeka, located in Shawnee County, serves as the capital of Kansas. The metropolitan area is rich in history and highly favored by nature. It lies on rich sandy loam river bottomland where Indians lived for many years using the excellent fords on the Kansas (Kaw) River. Among the first permanent settlers were three French-Canadian (Pappan) brothers. They married three Kanza (Kansas) Indian sisters and established a ferry over the river in 1842. A grandson from one of the marriages was Charles Curtis, the only Vice-President of the United States to be of Indian descent. (Charles Curtis served with President Herbert C. Hoover from 1929 to 1933.) In the 1800s, Topeka served as a gateway west for pioneers traveling on the Oregon Trail or by railroad.

Topeka is home to the highly acclaimed Kansas Museum of History where you'll step back in time and learn all about the land that is Kansas. Relive the history of Kansas through exhibits, videos, and programs.

Old Prairie Town at Ward-Meade Historic Site overlooks the Oregon Trail's ferry site across the Kansas River and includes the original Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad depot from Pauline as well as a turn of the century town, botanical gardens, and dinners served by hosts in period dress.

Topeka has been an active participant in the modern-day Civil Rights Movement. The Monroe School is the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic site where visitors gain an understanding and appreciation for the role of this decision in the Civil Rights Movement.

Gage Park houses the Topeka Zoo, Renisch Rose Gardens with over 6,500 plants, offering 400 varieties, and a 1908 Carousel that houses a 1909 Wurlitzer organ. Tour the Combat Air Museum, the Capitol Building, and the Governor's home - Cedar Crest. First Presbyterian Church, built over 112 years ago, is the site of a unique presentation of Tiffany windows. Louis C. Tiffany came to Topeka in 1911 and produced these windows. First Presbyterian Church is the only church west of the Mississippi River to have all Tiffany windows. Visit Heartland Park, a state-of-the-art motor sports complex. The Topeka area has an abundance of campgrounds and lakes, as well as hiking and biking trails.

The 183,000 square foot Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library may be one of the greatest libraries around, with over 90,000 + card holders. You can see license plates from several counties from Kansas and surrounding states, like Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Illinois, New Mexico, Minnesota and several other states. The Topeka-Shawnee County Public may be the best cultural asset in the city. Great selections of all media types--books, movies, music, periodicals and others. If you are a classic movie fan, than you will enjoy the Topeka Public Library. I recommend finding old time movie actors and searching them individually for titles, like Robert Mitchum or Jimmy Stewart or James Cagney. Classical music is good, new books are plentiful and the business reference section is one of the best for researching businesses and industries. Great local and state businesses resources are available too. The health section is sponsored by Stormont Vail, where you can test blood pressure and check out bags for various ailments and find any kind of medical information possible. The Topeka Public Library is a must see for anybody visiting the City of Topeka. You won't be disappointed.

  • Billard Airport, [2] is a small airplane airport.
  • Kansas City International (MCI) is the closest fully functional commercial airport. A shuttle service [3] can take you to Topeka from Kansas City.
  • Amtrak [4] has a stop in Topeka which is served by the daily Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief [5] line.

By car

Travelling by car is the easiest way to enter, exit and move around in Topeka.

Highways include:

  • Highway 24 gives four lane access from the east and two lane entry from the west.
  • I-70 gives controlled access from the west.
  • Highway 75 gives two lane access from the south and controlled four lane access from the north.
  • I-335 (Toll) [6] gives controlled access from the southwest.
  • I-70 (Toll)[7] gives controlled access from the east.
  • Greyhound Bus Lines, [8] stops in Topeka.

Get around

Most of the streets in Topeka are laid out in a grid pattern. North/South Streets are named and most East/West streets are numbered. South of the river the street numbers increase as you travel southwardly, and the opposite on the north side of the river. Popular streets running through the city are Wanamaker, Topeka Boulevard, 21st Street and 6th Street (6th Street turns into Highway 40).

Topeka has a controlled access bypass, I-470, travelling through the southwest side of town. This makes for easy access to shopping centers and connects the major highways going into and out of Topeka.

Topeka has a public bus line that runs through most of the main streets [9]

Westboro Baptist Church

Topeka has become renowned for being the home of Westboro Baptist Church, headed by Fred Phelps and his family. This family is notorious for announcing their intense hatred for homosexuals, soldiers, foreigners, any religion besides their own, and America as a country. When visiting or living in Topeka, it is a common sight to see a group of Westboro Baptist Churchgoers picketing a local church or community gathering, carrying colorful signs with offensive slogans and sometimes shouting or singing. Know that most local Topekans despise the Phelps, given that they are against every religion but their own, and because most locals see Westboro Baptist as giving Topeka a bad name as a bigoted, small-minded city. On numerous occasions, committees have been formed attempting, unsuccessfully, to bar the Phelps from the city. The Patriot Guard Riders [10], a band of patriotic motorcyclists, was formed in response to picketing at soldier's funerals. They attempt to shield mourning families from protesters.

  • Brown v. Board of Education Museum, 1515 Se Monroe Street, (785) 354-4273, [11]. Open 9AM-5PM every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Take the #6 West 17th Bus to 17th and Topeka Ave, then walk east along 17th street to Monroe. Brown v. Board of Education Museum highlights the historical case where the movement against segregation in public schools started.
  • Kansas Historical Society and Museum, 6425 SW 6th Ave., (785) 272-8681, [12]. Take the #5 West 6th Bus along 6th Street to the Society.
  • Kansas State Capitol, 300 SW 10th Ave.,[13]. Take the #4 West 10th Bus along 10th Street to the Capital. The capital features original Murals as well as a tour of the rotunda. There are many restaurants within walking distance to the building, making this a nice afternoon visit.
  • Topeka High School, 800 SW. 10th Street, [14]. Take the #4 West 10th Bus along 10th Street to the School. Topeka High School is known for being the first Million Dollar School west of the Mississippi river.
  • Washburn University, 1700 SW College Ave., [15] On the campus are creative displays of students' sculpture projects.
  • Watersports and Camping at Lake Shawnee [16]. There is a small waterpark at the beach.
  • Bowling alleys are popular in Topeka. There is a bowling alley in most areas of the town.
  • YMCA [17] has four facilities for exercise and sports.
  • Topeka Performing Arts Center [18] regularly hosts concerts, plays and performances.
  • Movie Theaters are located at Westridge mall and on the north terminus of Wanamaker Road
  • Kansas Expo Centre [19] hosts major events and conventions
  • Heartland Park [20] has drag, dirt and road racing events.
  • The "World-Famous" Topeka Zoo, located at Gage Park [21].
  • Helen Hocker Theater [22], also located in Gage Park, a quaint community blackbox theatre, regularly puts on plays and musicals, and specializes in children's camps.
  • Gage Park also features a fun outdoor aquatic center (Blaisdell Pool), a small train, a rose garden, walking trails, baseball diamonds, playgrounds, a greenhouse, a dog park, and an amphitheatre with occasional music performances.]
  • Topeka Civic Theatre, at 8th and Oakley (just a few blocks east of Gage Park) regularly puts on musicals, plays, and comedy acts featuring talented local performers [23].
  • Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library [24] a large and comfortable library building featuring a tower, which also houses local art and screens old movies for free.
  • Walking and biking trails, a pool, and baseball diamonds, as well as a BMX track, at Shunga Park [25]
  • West Ridge Mall - Features more than 115 stores including Old Navy, Gap, and Macy's.
  • Fairlawn Plaza Mall, 21st and Fairlawn. Featuring over 50 unique shops and restaurants including Hasting's and The Classic Bean  edit


Topeka has the variety of chain restaurants like most modern American cities. Locally owned restaurants are scattered through town. Most small shopping centers will have one or two small, locally owned restaurants. Wanamaker is the popular street for most chain restaurants.

Recommended Locally Owned or Small Chain Restaurants:

  • Bobo's Drive In: 2300 SW 10th Ave
  • Boss Hawgs BBQ: 2833 SW 29th St
  • Globe Indian Quisine: 117 SE 10th Ave
  • Horizon's Hamburger Palace: 821 SW 21st St
  • Kiku Japanese Steak House: 5331 SW 22nd Pl (In the Fairlawn Plaza Mall)
  • Rosa's Mexican Food: 2025 SE California Ave
  • Taco's El Mexicano: 2002 SE California Ave
  • Grover's Smokehouse: 1217 SW Gage Blvd
  • Annie's Place: 4014 SW Gage Center Dr
  • Daimaru Steakhouse and Sushi Bar: 1221 SW Gage Blvd
  • Jade Garden Chinese Restaurant, 2038 SW Gage Blvd, (785) 271-2038‎.  edit


Topeka has a few locally owned coffeehouses, but several coffeehouses in the area buy their coffee from a medal-winning local roaster, PT's Coffee Co. [26] PT's also has a coffeehouse of their own.

Recommended Locally Owned or Small Chain Barristas:

  • PT's Coffee Roasting Co.: 5660 SW 29th St
  • Margie's Java Cafe: 4036 SW Huntoon St
  • Classic Bean: 722 S Kansas Ave
  • Classic Bean: 2125 SW Fairlawn Plaza Dr
  • Kaner Coffee: 2601 SW 6th Ave
  • Lazio's Coffee Bar & Roasterie: 2111 SW Belle Ave
  • Sharkey's Tiki Bar, 5217 SW 28th Court, 785-783-2883. Sharkey's is one of the favorite local hangout spots. Great food, cold beer, pool tables and big TV's! The owner, Ernie is great and is usually there hangin' out or cooking the food. Karoke on Thursday and Sundays too!! $4-8.  edit
  • The Break Room, 911 S. Kansas Ave, (785) 215-6633. 7:30am - 4:30pm.  edit
  • AmeriSuites Topeka Northwest, 6021 SW Sixth Avenue, Tel: (785) 273-0066 Fax: (785) 273-1423, [27].
  • Best Western Candlelight Inn, 2831 SW Fairlawn Road, +1 785 272-9550, Toll-free: +1 800 223-8892, Fax: +1 785 272-8242, [28].
  • Best Western Topeka Inn & Suites, 700 SW Fairlawn Road, +1 785 228-2223, Toll-free: +1 877 986-7352, Fax: +1 785 228-2223, [29].
  • Candlewood Suites, 914 South West Henderson, +1 785 271-7822, [30].
  • Courtyard Topeka, 2033 Wanamaker Rd, +1 785 271-6165, Fax: +1 785 228-9712, [31].
  • Fairfield Inn Topeka, 1530 SW Westport Drive, +1 785 273-6800, Fax: +1 785 273-6800, [32].
  • Holiday Inn, 605 Fairlawn Rd, +1 785 272-8040, [33].
  • Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, 901 Sw Robinson Ave, +1 785 228-9500, [34].
  • Motel 6 Topeka Northwest, 709 Fairlawn Road, +1 785 272-8283, Fax: +1 785 271-1341, [35].
  • Motel 6 Topeka West, 1224 Wanamaker Road SW, +1 785 273-9888, Fax: +1 785 273-0665, [36].
  • Residence Inn Topeka, 1620 SW Westport Drive, +1 785 271-8903, Fax: +1 785 271-8903, [37].
  • Lawrence (Kansas) is thirty minutes east of Topeka along I-70 (Toll). A scenic (and cheaper) route to Lawrence from Topeka is along US Highway 40. The Amtrak train system connects Topeka to Lawrence. Lawrence is home to Kansas University [38]. Lawrence is a small college town with a vibrant social scene located around Massachusetts Street. Massachusetts Street is also the site where John Brown fought during the Bleeding Kansas battles.
  • Perry Lake [39] is 30 minutes north east of Topeka along US Highway 24. It is the third largest lake in Kansas. Perry Lake features watersports, hiking and camping opportunities.
  • Manhattan (Kansas) is an hour and a half west of Topeka. Take I-70 West to KS-177 North. Manhattan is home to Kansas State University [40]. Near to Manhattan is Tuttle Creek Resevoir.
Routes through Topeka
HaysJunction City  W noframe E  LawrenceKansas City
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

TOPEKA, a city and the county-seat of Shawnee (disambiguation)|Shawnee county, Kansas, U.S.A., the capital of the state, situated on both sides of the Kansas river, in the east part of the state, about 60 m. W. of Kansas City. Pop. (1900), 33,608, of whom 3201 were foreignborn (including 702 Germans, 575 Swedes, 512 English, 407 Russians, 320 Irish, &c.) and 4807 were negroes; (1910, census), 43,684. It is served by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Union Pacific and the Missouri Pacific railways. The city is regularly laid out on a fairly level prairie bench, considerably elevated above the river and about 890 ft. above sea-level. Among its prominent buildings are the United States government building, the Capitol (erected1866-1903at a cost of $3,200,589 and one of the best state buildings in the country), the county court house, the public library (1882), an auditorium (with a seating capacity of about 5000), the Y.M.C.A. building, a memorial building, housing historical relics of the state, and Grace Church Cathedral (Protestant Episcopal). The city is the see of a Protestant Episcopal bishop. In the Capitol are the library (about 6000 volumes) and natural history collections of the Kansas Academy of Science, and the library (30,000 books, 94,000 pamphlets and 28,500 manuscripts) and collections of the Kansas State Historical Society, which publishes Kansas Historical Collections (1875 sqq.) and Biennial Reports (1879 sqq.). The city is the seat of Washburn (formerly Lincoln) College (1865), which took its present name in 1868 in honour of Ichabod Washburn of Worcester, Massachusetts, who gave it $25,000; in 1909 it had 783 students (424 being women). Other educational establishments are the College of the Sisters of Bethany (Protestant Episcopal, 1861), for women, and the Topeka Industrial and Educational Institute (1895), for negroes. In Topeka are the state insane asylum, Christ's Hospital (1894), the Jane C. Stormont Hospital and Training School for nurses (1895), the Santa Fe Railway Hospital, the Bethesda Hospital (1906) and the St Francis Hospital (1909). Topeka is an important manufacturing city. Its factory product was valued in 1905 at $14,448,869. Natural gas is piped from southern Kansas for manufacturing and domestic use.

The first white settlement on the site of Topeka was made in 1852, but the city really originated in 1854, when its site was chosen by a party from Lawrence. It was from the first a freestate stronghold. More than one convention was held here in Territorial days, including that which framed the Topeka Constitution of 1855; and some of the meetings of the free-state legislature chosen under that document (see Kansas) were also held here. Topeka was made the temporary state capital under the Wyandotte Constitution, and became the permanent capital in 1861. It was first chartered by the pro-slavery Territorial legislature in 1857, but did not organize its government until 1858 (see Lawrence). In 1881 it was chartered as a city of the first class. The first railway outlet, the Union Pacific, reached Eugene, now North Topeka, in 1865. The construction of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe was begun here in 1868, and its construction shops, of extreme importance to the city, were built here in 1878. In 1880, just after the great negro immigration to Kansas, the coloured population was 31% of the total.

See F. W. Giles, Thirty Years in Topeka (Topeka, 1886).

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

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  1. The capital of the state of Kansas, USA.

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