Wichita, Kansas, the state's largest city and the seat of Sedgwick County. It is on the Arkansas River, about 175 miles (280 kilometers) southwest of Kansas City, in the rich Arkansas Valley. Wichita is an important marketing and shipping point for wheat and other agricultural commodities. The city has stockyards, meat-packing plants, grain elevators and flour mills. Wichita sits in the great midcontinent oil field and has huge oil refineries. Natural gas and lime deposits are nearby.
Wichita became a center of the aircraft industry during World War II. There are aircraft factories, a large municipal airport, several private airports and a U.S. Air Force base. Other factories in Wichita produce farm machinery, oil-drilling equipment, automobile parts, and heating, lighting and air-conditioning units. There are railway yards and repair shops here.
In Wichita are Friends University, Kansas Newman College and Wichita State University. Other institutions include the Wichita Art Museum, the Sedgwick County Zoo and the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum. Wichita also has a symphony orchestra. Cow Town, a reconstruction of 1872 Wichita, is a major attraction.
Wichita has the council-manager form of government.
Wichita Indians established a camp here in 1863. White settlers arrived soon after and began trading with the Indians. A settlement grew along the Chisholm Trail. It was named Wichita in 1868 and incorporated as a city three years later. Wichita prospered first as a cow town and then as a flour-milling center.