Forget advanced trigonometry, or all those classes that have the word "molecular" or "quantum" in their titles.
Many locals around here swear the course that is most often failed by new Kansas University students is one that is not even offered on The Hill. It is the one that has lesson times every day of the week as students make their way around Lawrence. Let's call it Lawrence 101: The ins and outs of living here.
No worries, though. It is the one course that is not going on your transcripts. And just to show you how glad we are to have you here, we're providing something every college student can appreciate: A cheat sheet.
Here's a look at the ins and outs:
- We're not going the wrong way. That actually would be you. There are several one-way streets in Lawrence, but the two most notorious in the city are Kentucky and Tennessee streets. Learn those. They are just west of Massachusetts Street. Kentucky is one-way to the north. Tennessee is one-way to the south.
- We can hear you. Sheetrock and siding do not block the sound waves of fully cranked Zeppelin, or whatever that is you're playing. Houses in Lawrence, especially in the older parts of town, are close together. If you are going to have a party, or just dial up the stereo, chat with your neighbors first. Ask for a little understanding. If you don't, you may get a visit from the Lawrence Police Department. Lawrence has a noise ordinance. A recent reorganization of the Lawrence Police Department means more officers now can respond to noise complaints. This is a big one in Lawrence, so beware. Besides, it makes all of us feel old. What is that you're playing?
- What's that? Many of Lawrence's most significant landmarks are on the KU campus. You'll figure those out. Here are some that might take you a little longer: The big river that runs through town (you know, the one by Johnny's Tavern) is the Kansas River. It sometimes is called the Kaw. The small river in southern Lawrence (that means a little south of Wal-Mart and Target) is called the Wakarusa. The big puff of constant smoke north of town is an electric power plant, owned by Westar. The big body of water west of town is Clinton Lake.
- Where am I? Street names, oh geez. In several parts of town, especially the older parts near downtown, they are named after states. But beyond that, you're really going to need your Ph.D. in history or a crystal ball to fully understand it. The main thing to remember is that they're not in alphabetical order. Instead, in some parts of town they're in the order that the states entered the Union. But just to keep us on our toes, the founding fathers omitted many southern states. We didn't like the southern states. More on that later.
- Miserable Missouri. All right, let's go ahead and tackle that southern state thing now. Lawrence founders didn't like the southern states because Lawrence was founded by staunch anti-slavery forces in the days leading up to the Civil War. The residents - some were referred to as Jayhawkers - were devoted to ensuring Kansas would enter the Union as a free state. No slaves. Our neighbors in Missouri wanted just the opposite. It made Lawrence the center of what became known as "Bleeding Kansas." It culminated with an August 1863 raid by William Quantrill. He and his band of about 400 raiders burned most of the town, and killed about 200 men and boys. Quantrill, of course, was from Missouri. Need we say more?
- Is that smoke I smell? If it is, it better not be coming from you while you are in a bar, restaurant or most other indoor public places. In 2004, Lawrence became the first city in the state to pass a smoking ban. It prohibits smoking in virtually all indoor places of employment in the city. Smoking in a home or apartment is still allowed, as long as it is cool with the landlord. Smoking outside a bar and restaurant also is still legal.
- Can you spare a nickel? The nickels, dimes and quarters come in handy in downtown Lawrence. Downtown is the one area of town that has lots of parking meters. You're required to plug the meters from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, or else run the risk of getting a fine. Fines are $2 for the first offense.
- Round and round we go. We have roundabouts in Lawrence. Here's the thing to remember: Always go right. If you want to turn left at the intersection, you first must go right, navigate three quarters the way around the circle, and then go left, which at that point in time is, of course, now your right. Got it? Other points to remember are yield to cars already in the roundabout, and forget about turn signals. They just confuse everybody. Roundabouts can make your life simpler though. If you ever meet a local and don't know what to talk about just pose this question: What do you think about them roundabouts? We'll talk your ear off.
- No, we're not kidding. There really is only one street in Lawrence that takes you all the way from the far western side of Lawrence to the far eastern side of Lawrence. It is called 23rd Street. Well, sort of. East of Iowa Street is called 23rd Street. West of Iowa Street is called Clinton Parkway. Yes, we like to confuse you. The point is, the street - especially the 23rd Street version - is pretty busy by Lawrence standards.
- What's there to do? If you like parks, you are in the right spot. Lawrence has about 50. Downtown has South Park, near Ninth and Iowa streets there is Centennial Park, which has a Frisbee golf course, and at Clinton Lake there's an off-leash dog park. Also at the lake, there's a city-owned golf course. There are lots of trails. A prominent hike and bike trail is along Clinton Parkway. Good mountain biking trails are along the Kansas River (remember, next to Johnny's.) If indoor activity is more your speed, there are two movie theaters. Liberty Hall is downtown in a historic building. It shows lots of independent flicks. In south Lawrence, there is the Southwind 12 theater that shows most of the major releases.
- Rental rules. You might think twice about moving in with a half-dozen of your best buddies. Actually, there are lots of reasons to think twice about that, but one of them is a city law. If you are renting a single-family home, city ordinance prohibits more than three unrelated people from living in the house. On the flip side, the city can help you with rental problems, too. If you ever think there is some sort of housing or health code violation that your landlord just won't take care of, call the city at 832-7700 and the city will send out an inspector.
- This and that. Among some of the more notable folks who have lived in Lawrence are Langston Hughes, a Harlem Renaissance poet, and William Burroughs, a beatnik writer. : The apocalyptic television movie, "The Day After" - about the aftermath of a nuclear bomb blast - largely was filmed in Lawrence. : Lawrence's Hallmark Cards plant typically produces all the Christmas cards for Republican presidents. : Local legend says the small Douglas County (that's the county we're in, by the way) community of Stull has a cemetery that is a Gateway to Hell.
So there you have it. Go forth and win a trivia contest or something.
But remember, just keep an eye out for the one-way signs.