A classic college town
Favorite thing: Stroll along Mass Street, a shady haven of shops, sidewalk cafes, galleries, restaurants and coffee shops that has been described by travel writers as one of America's finest downtowns. You can have a latte at a cafe...browse the bookshops...grab a bargain at a vintage clothing shop or secondhand music shop...find something utterly unique at a boutique or the antiques mall...soak up the sun outside the gazebo in South Park...catch a matinee at Liberty Hall...then quench your thirst and satisfy your appetite with a beer and dinner at the Free State Brewery!
Fondest memory: Stately trees and shop awnings shade the wide pavements of Mass Street. In the heat of late spring and summertime you can find a cool perch at a sidewalk cafe. Fight off the sticky heat by drinking an iced coffee and watch everyone ambling along the avenue. Buildings constructed from red brick and native golden limestone populate this main promenade, giving the town an atmosphere of solidity and prosperity. As the afternoon melts into evening, the setting sun alights the colourful shredded clouds in the sky. Night noises might include the humming tires of a bike ridden by a student returning from the library...or the hushed whispers of breezes in the trees...or the beat and bassline from a standing-room only concert.
Traffic is maddening Now and to Get Worse
Favorite thing: The city grid with 82,000 residents and then 26,000 students is not conducive to good traffic flow. There is not outerbelt loop. At Hwy 10 & Iowa St intersection, it can back up for one half mile on an average day in heavy traffic. Then out west is more commercial and apartments and homes along the stretch of Hwy 40 going out about 3-5 miles. Whew. Hwy 10 is the main artery form Kansas City, and it is becoming more crowded also, with 20,000 daily commuters.
- Arts and Culture
- Road Trip
Ying and Yang
Favorite thing: Its entreprenurial spirit born from a bold combination of classical tradition and modern attitude.
You will come to realize that a lot of joy can be wrung from life with the application of talent, imagination and determination!
Fondest memory: On a recent visit to Lawrence I attended a concert featuring a collaboration between two string quartets, one classically trained and the other modern.
Each group took the stage separately at first, the Ying quartert doing Ravel before the Turtle Island Quartet dove into a mix of jazz, folk and classical. In one number the violin was played like a bluegrass fiddle, then strummed like a guitar or beaten like a drum. The cellist stood and flailed his cello as if in a jazz combo.
Performing together, they engaged in a mixture of flawless collaboration and friendly competition.
I felt privileged to witness this entertaining artistic creation. But they were not just here to perform, they had been in town all week doing workshops, conducting classes with school musicians and even doing a session on conflict negotiation.
Now how Lawrence is that?
Haskell Indian Nations University
Favorite thing: This Native American institute of higher education gives our indigenous people a fair chance at a good education. Unfortunately, the two universities in this town don't often mix, but HINU adds even more to the cultural flavor of the city.
Tour the campus of the...
Favorite thing: Tour the campus of the University of Kansas. Beautiful architecture, rolling hills, and good museums. A great place to go to school. Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, KU!!
Fondest memory: My best memory of Lawrence was taking my 6-year old son to his first Jayhawk Basketball game. There is no better place to watch college basketball. Allen Field House literally oozes with history and tradition. KU means alot to me, and I will never forget that day.
You must go to Dyche Hall and...
Favorite thing: You must go to Dyche Hall and see the KU museum of Natural History. There is this amazing diorama there in a large room. It begins on one side of the room and circles all the way around you. It begins to the left of the entrance with the South American rainforests. Animals of the rainforest in a natural setting. As you walk around the room the vegetation and animal life gradually change as if you were travelling north. The center of the room is the great plains of Kansas with mounted buffalo, prairie dogs, and meadow larks in a field of grass. The exhibit ends on the far side of the room with the arctic tundra.
Fondest memory: I've lived in Kansas quite a while and went to Lawrence for the first time as a boy. There is a movie by 'Disney' about Comanche the cavalry horse. I saw that horse there on display at Dyche Hall.
Douglas County Courthouse
Favorite thing: The County Courthouse is at the edge of the central Business District of Lawrence, at 11th and Massachusetts. It was finished in 1904, and was one of the last important works of notable Lawrence architect John Haskell. Haskell - originally from Rhode Island, educated at Brown, apprenticed in Boston - was one of the first "Jayhawkers," and he witnessed the transformation of Lawrence from "Bleeding Kansas battlesite" to "outpost of learned civilization." Haskell designed many imporant buildings in Kansas, including the state capitol in Topeka.
(Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence is named in honor of Dudley C. Haskell, John G.'s brother and an early Member of Congress from Kansas.)
- Historical Travel
The Sunflower Building
Favorite thing: This storefront at 804 Massachusetts was one of the first downtown buildings to be put up after William Quantrill's devastating border Raid (from slave-holding Missouri) in 1862. Originally the Barteldes Seed Company, it now houses a bike shop and an outdoor gear store.
Favorite thing: A University is only as good as its Library, and Watson Library is quite good. A rich collection of books and comfortable stuffed chairs in the reading room. There are also excellent views of the surrounding plains from the upper levels of the book stacks.
1425 Jayhawk Boulevard
Favorite thing: The oldest surviving building on the hilltop campus, Spooner Hall was opened in 1894 and was designed by the Kansas City architectural firm of Van Brunt and Howe. Originally home of the KU library, now it houses offices of the Department of Anthropology.
Favorite thing: The Danforth Chapel is a lovely niche on the KU Hilltop, a place for refreshment and repose. It was built during the 1940s with moneys from the Danforth (Ralston Purina) Foundation - as part of a program which sponsored the construction of non-denominational Christian spaces on college campuses across America.
The limestone used for the chapel was all quarried locally. Labor was largely provided by German Prisoners of War, who were interned between 1943 and 1945 in a nearby camp. (Apparently some of the POWs had been stonecutters back in Germnay, and were glad to put their skills to work in Lawrence.)
I was very pleased to find the chapel unlocked late in the afternoon on a summer's day in June.a
Favorite thing: Sculpture by local Lawrence artice Elden Tefft, located in front of Smith Hall, home of the Department of Religious Studies.
Although it is not shown in this picture, Moses is kneeling in front of a large stained glass window which is part of Smith Hall. The stained glass depicts the burning bush which spoke to Moses, and which although aflame was not "consumed" by the fire.
The story of Moses and the burning bush has been an important part of the "mythos" of the University of Kansas and of Lawrence, its home. This entire region was "aflame" in the 1860s, when it was the center of "Bleeding Kansas." Lawrence was literally on fire after William Quantrill's raid of 1863, which killed 150 residents here. But the spirit of KANSAS was not consumed.
- Arts and Culture
Favorite thing: He looks like a gardener to me.
"The Pioneer" is in a quiet nook just to the east of Lewis Hall, and it front of Miller Scholarship Hall. The sculpture was cast in 1905 by Frederick C. Hibbard - a Missouri artist (alas) who also was responsible for the "Boss Jim" Pendergast statue in KC M0 (which you can see on my Kansas City page.)
- Arts and Culture
Take the time to walk through...
Favorite thing: Take the time to walk through the downtown and enjoy the variety of unique shops (I hate that word, but they are!), coffee places, and restaurants. Come in the summertime and enjoy the city band's concerts in the South Park bandstand every Wednesday evening in June and July. Stroll through Old West Lawrence and enjoy the varied architecture.
Favorite thing: Every town in Kansas has one, but sometimes you just have to look for it. These "skyscrapers of the plains" remind you that even a cultural hot-spot like Lawrence still serves as a local gathering spot for farmers to move their crops out.
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