The New International Encyclopædia/Topeka
TOPE′KA. The capital of Kansas, and the county seat of Shawnee County, 66 miles west of Kansas City; on the Kansas River, and on the Missouri Pacific, the Union Pacific, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, and the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railroads (Map: Kansas, G 2). It is situated on rolling prairie land, at an elevation of over 800 feet, and covers an area of about 7 square miles. Beautiful shade trees and handsome residences add to the city's attractiveness. The most notable structure is the State Capitol, in the heart of the city. Other noteworthy edifices are the Public Library (containing 24,000 volumes), the United States Government Building, the county court-house, and the city hall and auditorium. The Melan Arch Bridge, which cost $150,000, possesses considerable architectural merit. Topeka is the seat of Washburn College (Congregational), opened in 1865; of the College of the Sisters of Bethany (Protestant Episcopal), opened in 1861; and of the Kansas Medical College. The State Insane Asylum and the State Reform School are also here. The prominent local charitable institutions include the Santa Fe Railway Hospital, the Jane C. Stormont Hospital and Training School for Nurses, Christ Hospital, Bedwell's Private Insane Asylum, Detention Hospital, and Ingleside, a home for aged women.
The industrial interests are centred chiefly in the extensive shops of the Santa Fe Railroad, and in the manufacture of flour. Of the smaller establishments, the most important are foundries and machine shops, lumber mills, and manufactories of boilers, trusses, woolen goods, etc. In the census year 1900 the total capital invested in all industries was $3,891,530; the value of their output amounted to $9,977,605. Considerable wholesale and jobbing business is carried on in Topeka. The government is vested in a mayor, chosen biennially, and a unicameral council. Subordinate officials, with the exception of the board of education, which is elected by popular vote, are appointed by the mayor, subject to confirmation of the council. The electric light plant and the water-works are owned by the municipality. The city spends annually for maintenance and operation about $323,000, the chief items being: schools, $102,000; interest on debt, $52,000; streets, $33,000; fire department, $28,000; and police department, $25,000. Population, in 1890, 31,007; in 1900, 33,608.
Topeka, laid out in 1854, was one of the ‘Free State’ towns founded by Eastern anti-slavery men immediately after the passage of the ‘Kansas-Nebraska Bill.’ In 1856 an anti-slavery convention adopted here the ‘Topeka Constitution,’ in pursuance of which the ‘Topeka Government’ was established, to be soon broken up by the United States troops. During this year Topeka became notorious for the raids made by its citizens on pro-slavery settlements. In 1857 Topeka was chartered as a city, becoming a city of the first class in 1881. It was made the capital of the State in 1861. Consult Giles, Thirty Years in Topeka, a Historical Sketch (Topeka, 1886).