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Past and Present

Past & Present: Wichita's North End

This fall, a group of students and I participated in the Day of the Dead event at the Nomar International Market. We had with us a large, blown up map of the North End from the 1950s, showing all the individual houses, stores, and other structures. People could write on the map or put in pins with tags that showed what the given building was and why it was significant to them.

One man came up and put in a pin on one house just north of Market and 21st Street where his family had lived. We were amazed at what he then revealed: He said that the house was constructed in 1907 on the other side of the tracks, in an area of Latino workers’ housing known as El Huarache. In the 1940s, the neighboring lumber company wanted to expand, and those little houses had to either get moved or be torn down. This house got relocated to its later location as a result.

A closer look at maps at Wichita State University confirmed the story we heard. There, just southeast of the intersection of 21st and Topeka, was a spot with a pasted over “update.” Underneath the footprint of the lumberyard were the faint yellow rectangles showing the original wooden homes that had stood there when the map was first printed. A piece of the Latino built environment of Wichita was obscured, but not quite totally erased.