Past & Present: North End

Sep 19, 2017

Credit wichita.edu

A Google Maps search for Wichita lists the area north of 21st Street and west of Broadway as “El Pueblo.” The more common community name for the area is the more generic “North End.”

It developed originally as a blue collar neighborhood for workers at the nearby packing plants, stock yards, rail yards, elevators, and refineries. Latinos were part of the mix, but not the majority. A 1937 Federal Housing Authority report listed the area as containing the majority of the city’s Mexican American population, but only 8 percent foreign born.

This multiethnic, diverse neighborhood started to change when I-135 replaced Broadway as the city’s north-south artery and the stockyards and packing plants closed. By the 1980s, new cohorts of immigrants from Latin America and Southeast Asia began settling. In the 1990s and 2000s, a city effort to revitalize the 21st Street corridor from Hillside to the Arkansas River tied the North End to African American populations along the canal route towards WSU and the former industrial core. Meanwhile, plans emerged to redevelop businesses in the vicinity of North Market, with efforts looking at revitalizing the defunct Nomar Theater and creating a new market that celebrated Hispanic and Asian cultural features. When it opened in 2011, the Nomar International Market was intended to give a new energy to local businesses and highlight the community’s ethnic and immigrant roots.

Since that time, the North End continues to struggle, both in terms of identity and economics. Asian families have moved to other parts of the city and a more recent influx of Mexican immigrants has arrived.  Thus, any designation for this fluid, dynamic part of the city is at best only a snapshot of a specific point in time.

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