It is always interesting to know a little bit of the background in any area that you may be visiting. This also includes understanding the history of the area where you live as well. If you happen to be living in or visiting Oakland Park, Kansas, you will appreciate knowing that it has a long history with a lot of interesting points along the way.
When you look back through the history of the city, you will find that it got its start in 1905. That is when William B. Strang Jr., the founder of the city showed up and began platting subdivisions. This included one along a stretch of military roadway that was known as Overland Park.
When he set up this subdivision, he thought it would be a well-planned ‘park-like’ environment within the community. He wanted it to provide quality education, strong commerce, vibrant neighborhoods and recreational facilities for all ages. Interestingly, those are some of the reasons why people continue to enjoy living in and visiting Oakland Park down to this day.
Strang had a number of different housing developments established by the time he died in 1921. This included an airfield and a railroad. You can still see some of the remnants of his life and the things that he did, including the limestone car barn that is now the home to Traditions Furniture.
Although the subdivision of Oakland Park was established in the early 1900s, it wasn’t incorporated until May 20, 1960. At that point, it had a population of just over 28,000 and was considered to be a first-class city. Today, the city encompasses over 75 square miles and there are some 192,000 people that call it home. In other words, it is the second-most populous city in the state of Kansas.
One of the interesting pieces of history out of the area is the flood of 1903. There were a number of issues that led up to this flood, including some freezes and sleet storms that occurred in 1903 in late April. Hail, tornadoes and large rainstorms in May also caused additional damage, including on May 22, when many areas were damaged by tornadoes and hailstones as large as 14 inches around were reported. The rivers were swollen because of all of the weather issues, leading to the KAW flood.
Some 4000 people were forced out of their homes as a result of the floodwaters and thousands of dollars were raised by individuals and businesses to help those who needed it. After the floodwaters began receding by June, there were other issues that also needed care for, including standing water and dead animals, both of which could lead to disease. Some 57 people died as a result of the floodwaters and many of the railroad bridges were damaged or destroyed.
This is been just a brief history of Overland Park, Kansas but as you can see, there are many interesting things to learn about the area. Take a moment to appreciate the history of Overland Park and you will enjoy your stay in a very unique way.
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