Greensburg, Kansas

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Greensburg, Kansas
Greensburg Water Tower (2009)
Greensburg Water Tower (2009)
Location within Kiowa County and Kansas
Location within Kiowa County and Kansas
KDOT map of Kiowa County (legend)
Coordinates: 37°36′10″N 99°17′33″W / 37.60278°N 99.29250°W / 37.60278; -99.29250Coordinates: 37°36′10″N 99°17′33″W / 37.60278°N 99.29250°W / 37.60278; -99.29250[1]
CountryUnited States
StateKansas
CountyKiowa
Founded1885
Incorporated1886
Named forD.R. Green
Government
 • MayorBob Dixson
Area
 • Total1.79 sq mi (4.63 km2)
 • Land1.79 sq mi (4.63 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation2,238 ft (682 m)
Population
 • Total740
 • Density410/sq mi (160/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
67054
Area code620
FIPS code20-28675 [1]
GNIS ID474258 [1]
Websitegreensburgks.org

Greensburg is a city in, and the county seat of, Kiowa County, Kansas, United States.[1] As of the 2020 United States census, the population of the city was 740.[3] It is home to the world's largest hand-dug well. On the evening of May 4, 2007, Greensburg was devastated by an EF5 tornado that leveled at least 95 percent of the city and killing eleven people between the ages of 46 and 84.[4][5][6][7][8] Today, Greensburg stands as a model "green town", often described as the greenest in America. The hospital, city hall, and school have all been built to the highest certification level issued by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).[9]

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

For millennia, the Great Plains of North America were inhabited by nomadic Native Americans.

19th century[edit]

The first settlement was made at Greensburg in 1885.[10] Greensburg was named for D.R. "Cannonball" Green, who owned a stagecoach company and who helped to form the city.[11] In 1887, construction began on the Big Well, the largest hand-dug well in the world.[12] In 1888, Greensburg was advertised as the "liveliest town in the state." In the same year, the Big Well finished construction.[13][14]

20th century[edit]

The Big Well stopped being a source of the city's water in 1932. The largest pallasite meteorite ever discovered was found near Greensburg in 1949, weighing over 1,000 pounds. In 1972, the Big Well was declared a national museum.[12]

21st century[edit]

City center, twelve days after the tornado struck (2007)

At 9:45 p.m. CDT on May 4, 2007, during a deadly tornado outbreak,[15] Greensburg was hit by an EF5 tornado. The tornado was estimated to be 1.7 miles (2.7 km) in width — wider than the city itself — and traveled for nearly 22 miles (35 km). Ninety-five percent of the city was confirmed to be destroyed, with the other five percent being severely damaged. The National Weather Service estimated winds of the tornado to reach 205 mph (330 km/h). This was the first tornado to be rated EF5 since the implementation of the Enhanced Fujita scale earlier that year and the first F5 or EF5 classification since May 3, 1999, when an F5 tornado ripped through Moore, Oklahoma, as part of the 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak. Tornado sirens sounded in the city twenty minutes before the tornado struck, and a tornado emergency was issued, which undoubtedly saved many lives.[16][17] The tornado lasted for a total of one hour and five minutes and caused $250 million dollars in damages.[18] Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and President George W. Bush both declared Kiowa County a disaster area,[19] which opened up the affected areas for national and international aid. The tornado took 10 lives in Greensburg and two more in neighboring towns.[20] While some rebuilding was done, the population by 2010 was about 50% of what it was in 2000, as the 2000 census found 1,574 residents, while only 777 were recorded in the 2010 census.[21]

After the tornado, the city council passed a resolution stating that all city buildings would be built to LEED — platinum standards, making it the first city in the nation to do so. Greensburg is rebuilding as a "green" town, with the help of Greensburg GreenTown, a non-profit organization created to help the residents learn about and implement the green living initiative.[22][23] With extra help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Greensburg residents developed a long-term plan for Greensburg. The city's power is supplied by ten 1.25 MW wind-turbines. Carbon offsets generated from the turbines are being managed by NativeEnergy, and have been purchased by charter supporters including Ben & Jerry's, Clif Bar, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Stonyfield Farm.[24] Greensburg now boasts numerous electric vehicle charging stations and offers complimentary bikes to anyone. Supporters of Greensburg's efforts to change its sustainability model see it as a city of the future- a template for other towns to follow suit.

Geography[edit]

Greensburg is located at coordinates 37°36′10″N 99°17′33″W / 37.6027963°N 99.2926131°W / 37.6027963; -99.2926131 (37.6027963, -99.2926131).[1] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.48 square miles (3.83 km2), all land.[25]

Climate[edit]

The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. Under the Köppen Climate Classification system, Greensburg has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "CFA" on climate maps.[26]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1890515
1900343−33.4%
19101,199249.6%
19201,2151.3%
19301,33810.1%
19401,4175.9%
19501,72321.6%
19601,98815.4%
19701,907−4.1%
19801,885−1.2%
19901,792−4.9%
20001,574−12.2%
2010777−50.6%
2020740−4.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

2000 census[edit]

As of the 2000 United States Census, there were 1,574 people, 730 households, and 453 families in the city.[27] The population density was 1,055.9 people per square mile (407.9/km²). There were 887 housing units at an average density of 595.0 per square mile (229.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 97.01% White, 0.83% Native American, 0.06% Asian, 1.02% from other races, and 1.08% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.59% of the population.

There were 730 households, out of which 23.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.3% were married couples living together, 6.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.9% were non-families. 35.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 19.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.76.

The city population contained 21.5% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 20.5% from 25 to 44, 25.2% from 45 to 64, and 26.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,438, and the median income for a family was $39,188. Males had a median income of $28,426 versus $20,875 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,054. About 8.4% of families and 12.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.6% of those under age 18 and 8.0% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census[edit]

As of the 2010 United States Census,[28] there were 777 people, 355 households, and 212 families in the city. The population density was 525.0 inhabitants per square mile (202.7/km2). There were 431 housing units at an average density of 291.2 per square mile (112.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 95.5% White, 0.4% African American, 1.0% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 1.4% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.9% of the population.[21]

There were 355 households, of which 24.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.2% were married couples living together, 8.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.3% were non-families. 36.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.83.

The median age in the city was 45.2 years. The city population contained 22% of residents under the age of 18; 5.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 22.6% were from 25 to 44; 27.9% were from 45 to 64; and 22.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.4% male and 52.6% female.

2020 census[edit]

As of the 2020 United States Census,[28] there were 740 people, and 365 households. The population density was 411.1 inhabitants per square mile (158.7/km2). There were 403 housing units at an average density of 223.9 per square mile (86.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 88.6% White, 2.2% African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.7% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 6.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.6% of the population.

There were 365 households. The average household size was 3.11 and the average family size was 3.09.

The median age in the city was 45.6 years. The city population contained 25.3% of residents under the age of 18; 74.7% were between the ages of 18 and 64; and 24.0% were 65 years of age or older.

The median household income was $40,729.

Education[edit]

The community is served by Kiowa County USD 422 public school district. Greensburg schools were closed through school unification. The Greensburg Rangers[29] won the Kansas State High School boys class B basketball championship in 1948.[30]

As of the 2019 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, 82.35% of School Enrolled Population are Enrolled in Kindergarten to 12th Grade in Greensburg. 27.4% of residents have a High School or Equivalent degree, 27.4% have some college but no degree, 8.6% have an Associate's degree, 16.8% have a Bachelor's degree, and 7.2% have a Graduates or Professional degree.[31]

Attractions[edit]

Big Well Museum & Visitor Info Center
Big Well spiral staircase

Greensburg is home to the world's largest hand dug well. Work had begun on the well in 1887 to provide water for the steam engines of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. When the well was completed in 1888 it was 109 feet (33 m) deep and 32 feet (9.8 m) in diameter. The well was used as the city's water supply until 1932. In 1939 it was opened as a tourist attraction allowing visitors to descend to the bottom of the well. The adjacent museum displayed a 1000-pound pallasite meteorite until the museum fell down around the meteorite during the 2007 tornado that destroyed the city. The Well was not destroyed, and the meteorite was found in the rubble of the museum and moved to a temporary home in Hays, Kansas while Greensburg was rebuilting.[32][33] In May 2012, the new Big Well Museum and Visitor Information Center opened featuring exhibits about the history of Greensburg, The Big Well, the 2007 tornado, rebuilding and Space Wanderer Pallasite Meteorite.

On October 16, 2006, a related smaller meteorite measuring 154 pounds (70 kilograms) was dug up near Greensburg (5 miles (8.0 km)) and Haviland (4 miles (6.4 km)). The only scientific publication discussing time of impact suggests a terrestrial age of 20,000 years.[34] It was once thought that its age was around 10,000 years.[35]

The town serves as a time station for the annual Race Across America, a 3,000 miles (4,800 km) transcontinental bicycle race.[citation needed]

The 5.4.7 Arts Center serves as a non-profit organization for hosting visual and performative arts, and acts as the only arts center between Dodge City, Kansas and Wichita, Kansas.

The Kiowa County Historical Museum and Soda Fountain operates as a museum for Kiowa County. It contains artifacts and information from the westward expansion of the United States fueled by ideas of Manifest Destiny. It also contains local history including sporting equipment and notable people from around Kiowa County.

West of Greensburg, the M.T. Liggett Art Environment offers a kinetic art display that utilizes pieces of discarded metal along with wind energy to create a roadside attraction.

The Fromme-Birney Round Barn is a notable horse barn that was built in 1912. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Transportation[edit]

Greensburg is served by three U.S. Highways:

Bus service is provided daily eastward towards Wichita, Kansas and westward towards Pueblo, Colorado by BeeLine Express (subcontractor of Greyhound Lines).[37][38]

Media[edit]

Several television networks have drawn an interest in Greensburg as a subject for reality shows as a result of the Greensburg City Council's decision to make the city a "green" town. A documentary on its reconstruction, called Greensburg, aired on Planet Green, a sister network of Discovery Channel.

Another documentary, Earth 2100, drew attention to Greensburg as "the green town" that was built after the devastating 2007 tornado. The ABC film suggested a fictionalized, future Greensburg as a model showing how American towns can successfully implement green technology, and become a beacon for hope on a planet doomed to destruction from climate change and overpopulation.

Multiple books have been written about Greensburg and the 2007 tornado. Greensburg: The Twisted Tales (Janice Haney) recounts several residents' experiences with the tornado. Aftermath: Scenes from the Sudden Destruction of an American Hometown (Merlin Peck) showcases images of destruction and debris from the event.

Notable people[edit]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Greensburg, Kansas", Geographic Names Information System, United States Geological Survey
  2. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Profile of Greensburg, Kansas in 2020". US Census Bureau. Archived from the original on December 1, 2021. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
  4. ^ "Tornado was an EF-5; FEMA's help expected". The Wichita Eagle. 6 May 2007. Archived from the original on 9 May 2007. Retrieved 6 May 2007.
  5. ^ "Man Dies Months After Kansas Tornado Hit". Yahoo!. 24 September 2007. Retrieved 25 September 2007.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 March 2011. Retrieved 31 October 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Officer Injured in Kan. Tornado Dies". Guardian Unlimited. 8 May 2007. Retrieved 8 May 2007.[dead link]
  8. ^ "Police Officer Injured In Tornado Dies". KAKE-TV. 9 May 2007. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 25 September 2007.
  9. ^ Gowen, Annie (23 October 2020). "The town that built back green". Washington Post. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  10. ^ Blackmar, Frank Wilson (1912). Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Embracing Events, Institutions, Industries, Counties, Cities, Towns, Prominent Persons, Etc. Standard Publishing Company. p. 792.
  11. ^ History of Greensburg, KS
  12. ^ a b "The Big Well Museum & Visitors Center - Greensburg, Kansas".
  13. ^ "Archived copy". skyways.lib.ks.us. Archived from the original on 2 October 2008. Retrieved 13 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 October 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link), Blue Skyways, 18 May 2006. Accessed 7 May 2008.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 February 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "On the Road — Tornado Alley". Santa Barbara Independent. Archived from the original on 4 July 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2008.
  17. ^ NOAA Satellite and Information Service. "Event Record Details". Archived from the original on 3 May 2008. Retrieved 12 April 2007.
  18. ^ Oberholtz, Chris. “Looking Back: The Devastating Greensburg Tornado of 2007 Destroyed 95% of Kansas Town [Video].” Looking Back at the Devastating Greensburg Tornado of 2007, 4 May 2021, [1] ]
  19. ^ KAKE-TV. "President Bush Declares Disaster in Kansas". Archived from the original on 13 June 2007. Retrieved 6 May 2007.
  20. ^ "Man Dies Months After Kansas Tornado Hit". U.S.A. Today. 24 September 2007. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  21. ^ a b "2010 City Population and Housing Occupancy Status". US Census Bureau. Retrieved March 6, 2011.[dead link]
  22. ^ "Greensburg GreenTown". Archived from the original on 9 May 2008. Retrieved 4 May 2008.
  23. ^ Fox, Thomas J. (2013). Green Town USA: The Handbook for America's Sustainable Future. Hatherleigh Press. ISBN 978-1578263127.
  24. ^ "Greensburg Wind Farm". Archived from the original on 16 March 2010. Retrieved 30 November 2009.
  25. ^ "US Gazetteer files 2010". US Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 25 January 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  26. ^ Climate Summary for Greensburg, Kansas
  27. ^ "US Census website". US Census Bureau. Retrieved 31 January 2008.
  28. ^ a b "US Census website". US Census Bureau. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  29. ^ "Greensburg Still Leads", The Hutchinson News, 1 February 1949, p. 20.
  30. ^ "Basketball". KSHSAA. Archived from the original on 2 January 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  31. ^ "Explore Census Data".
  32. ^ "Greensburg Meteorite Recovered". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2007.
  33. ^ "Greensburg Tornado: Greensburg's famed meteorite found under rubble". Archived from the original on 9 May 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2007.
  34. ^ Honda, M.; Caffee, M. W.; Miura, Y. N.; Nagai, H.; Nagao, K.; Nishiizumi, K. Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 37:12, 1711-1728.
  35. ^ "Unusual meteorite found in Kansas". CNN. Archived from the original on 23 October 2006. Retrieved 17 October 2006.
  36. ^ Rand McNally. The Road Atlas '08. Chicago: Rand McNally, 2008, p. 40.
  37. ^ BeeLine Express
  38. ^ "Greyhound Lines". Archived from the original on 6 September 2019. Retrieved 3 January 2016.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Official sites

2007 tornado

Other sites