This week in Wichita history (Part Three)

This week in Wichita history (Part Three)

Architect James Barney Marsh was famed for his "rainbow arch" bridge design, and Kansas once boasted dozens of them. The John Mack Bridge on South Broadway was completed in 1931. In 1991, plans to demolish the beloved bridge and replace it with a bigger four-lane design were quashed by popular demand. Source: Wichita/Sedgwick County Historical Museum

This edition of Wichitarchaeology completes a three-part series of news highlights from historic July issues of the Wichita Eagle. The preceding two installments covered the period from 1872, when "Indian trouble" was headline news, to 1929, when Wichita's might as an aerospace industry giant was jeopardized by that year's devastating stock market crash. All text is taken directly from the Tihen Notes on the Eagle (and Eagle-Beacon), except that in italics, which is the author's commentary.

Sunday, July 19, 1931: The paper ran photos of both old and new bridges over the Big Arkansas River on South Lawrence [now Broadway] avenue. Work started Jan. 30, 1930, on the new 800 foot long bridge. The roadway is 30 feet wide with five foot sidewalk on each side. Total cost of bridge, paving and right-of-way is $191,000. Cost was $9,000 for right-of-way, $26,000 for pavement and $156,000 for bridge proper. (This refers to the John Mack Bridge, designed by James Barney Marsh and named after the popular Kansas Highway Commissioner who died during its construction.)

Monday, July 25, 1932: Fire damaged west side of the Wichita Horse and Mule Commission Company barns at 21st and St. Francis last night. Property belongs to the Wichita Union Stockyards company and is managed by the C. B. Team Horse and Mule company.

Saturday, July 20, 1935: The dirt thoroughfares on University of Wichita [now Wichita State University] campus are now being graded preparatory to paving them. The concrete slab will extend from the main entrance on Fairmount to a point in front of Morrison library, where it turns east toward the gymnasium and then north past Science hall to the north end of the administration building. The road in front of the administration building extending southeast to Hillside has already been paved. A federal grant of $80,000 was received for the project, with Federal Emergency Relief Administration labor being used. To be completed Sept. 1.

Tuesday, July 19, 1938: A second shift is being added at the Beech Aircraft plant to increase production from five or six planes a month to eight a month.

Friday, July 28, 1939: Twenty-four of the 25 equus bed wells for Wichita's new soft water supply have shown a combined daily capacity of 60,480,000 gallons. The 25th well is being drilled now.

Tuesday, July 25, 1944: Report of death yesterday at age 92 of Charles Payne, widely known Wichita naturalist and propagator of wild life, at his residence in the Shirkmere apartments, where he spent the later years of his life. Born in Campbell County, Kentucky June 14, 1852. He came to Wichita in 1888, making his home for many years on South Sycamore, where the area known for years as Payne's pasture existed. It is now the site of Lawrence stadium [now called Lawrence-Dumont Stadium].

Sunday, July 22, 1951: Announcement of a plat submitted yesterday to the city planning department for a development of 1100 single family units on a 260 acre tract southeast of the city just west of Highway K-15, a mile south of MacArthur Road and running west to the Big Arkansas River. Project to be developed by the Oaklawn Development Corporation and will cost about $11,000,000.

Wednesday, July 29, 1953: City commission yesterday changed the name of Levy Street to Mt. Vernon. Levy was a street long before Mt. Vernon was thought of, extending from the river east to Hillside, and was named for pioneer Wichita financier, Morris W. Levy, who came here in 1872. When the area east of Hillside was platted, the extension of Levy was called Mt. Vernon. The change in name from Levy to Mt. Vernon largely was the result of agitation and protests by residents east of the canal, city officials said.

Saturday, July 29, 1961: Construction started yesterday on the final four mile link of the west bypass expressway, I-235, from 21st Street to Kellogg. The contractor has 110 working days to complete the work, at a cost of $1,011,000.

Friday, July 19, 1963: Final plat of an eight to ten million dollar commercial and residential development at 21st and Amidon was approved yesterday by the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission. Lakeview Development Company, Inc. announced plans for developing a shopping center on the south side of 21st between Amidon and Coolidge. Included will be a number of apartments around the fringe of a sandpit. The land area covers 11.2 acres.

Saturday, July 25, 1964: The Wichita Park Board yesterday named the new park in the sand pit area southwest of 27th South and Lawrence Road for its former president, O. J. Watson, 88, of 815 N. Waco. The 119 acre facility is to be opened early next year.

Sunday, July 30, 1967: Southwestern Bell's new touch-tone telephones will be available to Wichita customers in the PArkview and ROckwell exchange areas Monday.

Sunday, July 20, 1969: Morristown Shopping Center at Central and Rock Road is now under construction at total cost of over half a million dollars. Three buildings will be erected on the nine acre site. John Curtis is the designer. First of the buildings, Carl Bell's East supermarket was started June 1 and is scheduled to open about Nov. 1. (This article, printed the day of the first manned moon landing, refers to the still-extant shopping center in which Piccadilly Market now serves as the anchor store.)

Tuesday, July 18, 1972: County assessor has reported a preliminary figure of 333,771 for population of Sedgwick County, compared with 331,128 last year. The 1970 federal census showed 350,674 residents, but a slack economy resulted in a population loss of 19,566 in 1971. Of the total, 262,801 are in Wichita, a gain of 504 from last year.