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Topeka is the capital city of Kansas, located on the banks of the Kansas River in the northeast region of the state. It's home to a large, thriving, diverse population that includes families, young professionals and singles. The city's healthy economy provides plenty of local jobs, while recreational opportunities are plentiful at Topeka's many parks, the Topeka Zoo and a number of local museums.
The History of Topeka
Founded in 1861, Topeka is perhaps one of the most resilient cities in the United States. The 1880s brought a housing boom that ended in disaster. Rampant speculation on town lots, coupled with a "bubble burst" in 1889 hurt many investors. However, it was not enough to stop Topeka – the city doubled in population during that period, and was able to effectively weather the impending economic downturn that came into play a few years later, in the 1890s.
In the early 1930s, the Great Depression brought Topeka to its lowest point. As the city began its road to recovery, World War II saw much of Topeka's agricultural, meatpacking and railroad-oriented base converted to manufacturing and government and military jobs. Responding to this increased demand, Forbes Air Force base and the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. both opened in 1944.
Despite facing difficult times, Topeka has still managed to become one of America's most well-balanced cities with an increasingly bright future. Today, Topeka is home to several notable businesses like Reser's Fine Foods and to major expansions for Santa Fe and Hill's Pet Nutrition.
Jobs in Topeka
As the capital city, Topeka has a large percentage of government-based jobs, and the state of Kansas is the city's largest employer. Other major industries include education, health and social services. Local school districts and Washburn University provide thousands of jobs in Topeka, ranging from teachers and administrators to support staff and office employees. Health care employers Stormont-Vail HealthCare, St. Francis Health Center and Colmery-O'Neil VA Hospital are also a major presence in the job market.
Finally, retail trade and manufacturing make up the final large segments of the local economy and job market. Walmart and Dillons are two of the largest retail companies in Topeka, while major manufacturers include Goodyear, Payless ShoeSource, Frito-Lay and Jostens.
If you're planning to look for a job in Topeka, you'll find a variety of options at your disposal in many different industries. The city's unemployment rate is quite a bit lower than the national average, which is more good news if you're jumping into the local job market.
Topeka has four school districts within its city limits: Topeka Public School District, Seaman School District, Auburn Washburn School District and Shawnee Heights School District. In Kansas, students can attend any school outside of their district, assuming there has been an agreement between the assigned school and the new school. There are a number of private and parochial schools in Topeka as well.
If you're hoping to enroll in a college or university in Topeka, you'll find a range of campuses to choose from. Washburn University, Friends University, and the Baker University School of Nursing are just a few of the colleges, universities and technical schools in the city.
Resources for Moving to Topeka
Here are a few helpful resources to help you plan your move to Topeka:
- Utilities: Westar Energy is the major energy provider in the area, while the city's utilities department manages water and sewer services.
Garbage and Recycling: Trash, recyclables and yard waste are collected regularly throughout most residential areas in Topeka.
- Transportation: The Topeka Metropolitan Transit Authority provides local public transportation from Monday through Saturday.
Despite its status as a large city in the Midwest, Topeka remains an extremely affordable place to live. Median home prices are considerably lower than the national average, which is a major factor in attracting new residents from across the country. Thanks to a large housing market, the city also provides a range of home styles and sizes to choose from, whether you want something compact or spacious.