Emporia, Kansas

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Emporia, Kansas
Downtown Emporia (2012)
Downtown Emporia (2012)
Official seal of Emporia, Kansas
Logo for the city of Emporia, Kansas
Location of Emporia within Lyon County and Kansas
Location of Emporia within Lyon County and Kansas
KDOT map of Lyon County (legend)
KDOT map of Lyon County ( legend)
Coordinates: 38°24′14″N 96°10′54″W / 38.40389°N 96.18167°W / 38.40389; -96.18167
EMPORIA KANSAS Latitude and Longitude:

38°24′14″N 96°10′54″W / 38.40389°N 96.18167°W / 38.40389; -96.18167
Country United States
State Kansas
County Lyon
 • Type Mayor–Council
 •  Mayor Jon Geitz [2]
 •  City Manager Mark McAnarney [3]
 •  City Clerk Kerry Sull [3]
Area [4]
 • Total 11.94 sq mi (30.92 km2)
 • Land 11.83 sq mi (30.64 km2)
 • Water 0.92 sq mi (0.28 km2)  0.6%
Elevation [1] 1,148 ft (350 m)
Population ( 2010)
 • Total 24,916
 • Estimate (2016) [5] 24,816
 • Density 2,100/sq mi (810/km2)
Time zone CST ( UTC-6)
 • Summer ( DST) CDT ( UTC-5)
ZIP code 66801 [6]
Area code 620, exchange 341
FIPS code 20-21275 [1]
GNIS feature ID 0477524 [1]
Website City Website

Emporia is a city in and the county seat of Lyon County, Kansas, United States. [1] [7] As of the 2010 census, the city population was 24,916. [8] Emporia lies between Topeka and Wichita at the intersection of U.S. Route 50 with Interstates 335 and 35 on the Kansas Turnpike. Emporia is also a college town, home to Emporia State University and Flint Hills Technical College.


Sixth Avenue c. 1912

Located on upland prairie, Emporia was founded in 1857, drawing its name from ancient Carthage, a place known in history as a prosperous center of commerce. [9]

After the American Civil War, it became an important railroad hub; the first railroad reaching Emporia in 1869. [10] In 1888, railroad executive and educator John Byers Anderson donated his personal library to the College of Emporia to commemorate his 50th wedding anniversary, and his former mentee Andrew Carnegie donated additional funds to build a library in Anderson's honor (conditioned upon the new college paying off its mortgage). [11]

Emporia is particularly known for its newspaper, the Emporia Gazette, published in the first half of the 20th century by the legendary newspaperman William Allen White. The paper became the widely perceived model of excellence in small-town journalism.

In 1953, Emporia was the site of the first Veterans Day observance in the United States. At the urging of local shoe cobbler Alvin J. King, U.S. Representative Edward Rees introduced legislation in The United States Congress to rename Armistice Day as Veterans Day. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill into law on October 8, 1954. [12]

On June 8, 1974, an F4 tornado struck Emporia, killing six people, injuring 200 people, and causing $25 million in damages. [13]

On Sunday, March 6, 1988 a heavily armed gunman walked into the Calvary Baptist Church during services and opened fire. The 29-year-old gunman, Cheunphon Ji, had no particular target, killing one person and injuring four others. [14] [15]


Emporia is located at 38°24′14″N 96°10′54″W / 38.40389°N 96.18167°W / 38.40389; -96.18167 (38.408148, -96.187054) [1] in east-central Kansas. It lies along the Kansas Turnpike at its intersection with Interstate 35 and U.S. Highway 50, 108 miles (174 km) southwest of Kansas City, 58 miles (93 km) southwest of Topeka, and 87 miles (140 km) northeast of Wichita on the eastern edge of the Flint Hills. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.94 square miles (30.92 km2), of which 11.83 square miles (30.64 km2) is land and 0.11 square miles (0.28 km2) is water. [4] The Neosho River flows along the northern side of the city. The Cottonwood River, one of its tributaries, flows along the city's southern edge and of two large city parks, Peter Pan and Soden's Grove; the two rivers meet near the eastern boundary of Emporia and flow southeast to join the Arkansas River in Oklahoma.


The city averages about 60 rainy days per year, 59 days with high temperatures of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher, and 124 days with low temperatures below freezing. The average temperature in January is 29 °F (−2 °C), and in July it is 79 °F (26 °C). Annual snowfall averages 10.2 inches (25.9 cm). [16]

Climate data for Emporia, Kansas
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 40
Average low °F (°C) 19
Average precipitation inches (cm) 0.7
Source: Weatherbase [16]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 843
1870 2,168 157.2%
1880 4,631 113.6%
1890 7,551 63.1%
1900 8,223 8.9%
1910 9,058 10.2%
1920 11,273 24.5%
1930 14,067 24.8%
1940 13,188 −6.2%
1950 15,669 18.8%
1960 18,190 16.1%
1970 23,327 28.2%
1980 25,287 8.4%
1990 25,512 0.9%
2000 26,760 4.9%
2010 24,916 −6.9%
Est. 2016 24,816 [5] −0.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

Emporia is the principal city of the Emporia Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Lyon and Chase counties.

2010 census

As of the 2010 census, there were 24,916 people, 9,812 households, and 5,571 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,491.6 inhabitants per square mile (962/km²). There were 11,352 housing units at an average density of 1,135.2 per square mile (440/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 79.2% White, 3.2% African American, 3.1% Asian, 0.8% American Indian, 10.5% from some other race, and 3.1% from two or more races. 25.4% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race. [8]

There were 9,812 households of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.0% were married couples living together, 5.3% had a male householder with no wife present, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.2% were non-families. 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39, and the average family size was 3.08. [8]

In the city, the population was spread out with 23.5% under the age of 18, 19.7% from 18 to 24, 24.5% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.8 males age 18 and over. [8]

The median income for a household in the city was $34,443, and the median income for a family was $47,500. Males had a median income of $32,873 versus $25,821 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,485. About 12.0% of families and 22.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.9% of those under age 18 and 11.9% of those age 65 or over. [8]


In addition to Emporia State University and other large public-sector employers such as the city and county governments, the public schools, and the county hospital, Emporia has several large private-sector employers. [17] Previously, a Tyson Foods beef-packing plant employed more than 2,400 workers. [17] Hostess Brands has a bakery in Emporia. Hopkins Manufacturing Corporation, founded in Emporia in 1953, by E.L. "Bud" Hopkins, and recognized in 2003 as the city's Large Employer of the Year, [18] makes products for the automotive aftermarket. The Braum dairy store chain, based in Oklahoma City, originated in Emporia in 1952 under the name Peter Pan. [19] Simmons Pet Food operates a multi-acre plant in Emporia that manufactures wet dog food. [20]

On January 25, 2008, Tyson unexpectedly announced the layoff of 1,500 workers (more than 60 percent) by March 25, 2008. [21] The company said it needed to move its slaughter operations closer to where the cattle are raised in western Kansas. [22] As the city's largest employer for 37 years, the Tyson plant creates almost 10 percent of the local economy. [23]


The city is served by the Emporia Municipal Airport as well as the Lyon County Area Transportation (LCAT) municipal bus system. The city once had an Amtrak stop and was served by the east and westbound Southwest Chiefs daily. The station was eliminated in 1997 two years before a fire destroyed the station, but local efforts in 2014 are trying to bring back that station.


Bus service within the city is provided by LCAT or Lyon County Area Transportation. The agency provides fixed-route bus service to the city of Emporia, and paratransit service to the disabled and the rest of Lyon County. The buses are a service of Lyon County, with significant support coming from the Kansas Department of Transportation. The Greyhound Lines has a bus stop in Emporia. [24]


Emporia is served by the following highways.


The Emporia Gazette is the city's main newspaper, published six days a week. [25] The Gazette also publishes a Spanish language monthly paper, La Voz. [26] Emporia State University publishes a bi-weekly student newspaper, the Emporia State University Bulletin. [27]

Emporia is a center of broadcast media for east-central Kansas. [28] One AM radio station and ten FM radio stations are licensed to and/or broadcast from the city. [28] Emporia is in the Topeka, Kansas television market, and one television station, a translator of the Fox affiliate in Topeka, broadcasts from the city. [29] [30]


Points of interest

Emporia has 14 structures on the National Register of Historic Places. They are the Old Emporia Public Library, the Finney (Warren Wesley) House, the Granada Theater (also known as the Fox Theater), the Harris-Borman House, the Howe (Richard) House, the Keebler-Stone House, the Kress Building, the Mason (Walt) House, the Anderson Carnegie Memorial Library, the Plumb (Mrs. Preston B.) House, the Soden's Grove Bridge, the Soden (Hallie B.) House, the William Allen White House (also known as Red Rocks), and the Col. Harrison C. and Susan Cross House. [31] There is also an authentic one-room school house located on the Emporia State University campus (near Merchant Street) that is available for tours through the ESU Teachers College and The National Teachers Hall of Fame.

At the Emporia service area of the Kansas Turnpike is a Kansas Historical Marker named Emporia - Home of William Allen White. [32]

In popular culture and the arts

The 1987 CBS miniseries Murder Ordained was filmed in Emporia. It dramatized an actual event in Emporia involving the 1983 death of Sandra Bird. Her husband, Rev. Tom Bird, was convicted of first-degree murder in her death and served 20 years in prison.

Notable people

Notable individuals who were born in and/or have lived in Emporia include actor R. Lee Ermey, [33] journalist William Allen White, [34] and college basketball coach Dean Smith. [35]



Emporia ... Kansas ...



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