A special section honoring your neighbors, unsung heroes and people who do the little things that just make life better in Lawrence.
Read about the honorees in the 2011 Only in Lawrence: "History" category.
Just about everyone knows about Quantrill’s Raid in 1863 or that Kansas University’s first basketball coach was James Naismith, who just so happened to have invented the sport.
But what about the lesser known tidbits of Lawrence history? Here are a few facts you can use to impress your friends.
Surviving a nuclear holocaust (on television)
Nuclear missiles flying over KU dorms, hundreds of wounded seeking medical attention on the floor of Allen Fieldhouse and tent cities lining the Kansas River, these were the images that filled the American imagination in 1983 when “The Day After” aired on ABC.
The made-for-television movie was set and largely filmed in Lawrence with thousands of locals volunteering in the movie’s making, many of them as extras.
The film was billed as a “starkly realistic drama of nuclear confrontation and its devastating effect on a group of average American citizens.” It shook the nearly 100 million viewers, which was half of the adult American population at that time.
The roundabout on street names
Across Lawrence, streets are named after states from New York to California — 36 in all. However, the method the founding fathers used in naming those streets has befuddled Lawrencians for generations.
The main drag, Massachusetts Street, was named for the home of the town’s first residents, the antislavery New England Emigrant Aid Co. East of Massachusetts, the streets were named for the original 13 colonies in the order they entered the Union (although in some places it is slightly scrambled), which explains Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. However, some southern states — thanks to the input from the New England abolitionists — were left off the list. So, that’s why you don’t see Georgia, South Carolina, or North Carolina on any Lawrence signs east of Massachusetts.
West of Massachusetts, the founders once again returned to an orderly manner in naming the streets as they entered the union starting with Vermont and ending with Florida.
After that, come Minnesota, Wisconsin, California and Iowa, in the incorrect order, and with Texas conspicuously absent. After Iowa, state names are few and far between.
Over the years, developers had picked up the trend in certain subdivisions, which explained streets named Arizona, Kansas, Dakota and Carolina.
Famous for being the sole survivor found at the Battle of Little Bighorn, the horse Comanche lives on at the KU Natural History Museum. When the burial party showed up two days after the battle, the horse was the only remaining creature at the battlefield where General George Custer and 265 of his men died.
Comanche eventually retired to Fort Riley and lived to the age of 29. He was mounted, exhibited at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and is housed at the KU museum, according to the museum’s website.
Where Rudolph came to life
Kansas Color Press, an upstart printer at 600 Mass., printed the tale of Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer, the basis of a Christmas classic. The story was written by Robert L. May in Chicago at the request of Montgomery Ward, which wanted to send the story out in its holiday catalog and give to children who visited the store.
Millions of copies of the story were printed in Lawrence. The tale isn’t quite the version that we know today — the famous reindeer lived in a village with his family and was recruited for the sleigh when Santa dropped off his presents — but its roots are tied to Lawrence printing presses.
Center of Google’s universe
When Google Earth launched in 2005, Lawrence residents were surprised to find their town — and Meadowbrook Apartments, in particular — at the center of the Internet giant’s satellite photo mapping system.
More than five years later, Lawrence remains there. According to Google Earth spokeswoman Anne Espiritu, when Google Earth opens on PCs and in the United States, if you don’t touch the screen it will automatically fly you to Lawrence.
So, why Lawrence?
Google Earth’s co-founder and vice president Brian McClendon is a Lawrence native and KU grad.
For much of the past decade, workers at Hallmark Cards Inc. have gotten the first look at the White House Christmas card. The production center in Lawrence printed all eight of the official George W. Bush family holiday greeting cards. The cards — more than 1.25 million were printed in 2008 — went out to family, friends, supporters, staff members and foreign dignitaries.
Hallmark has created 41 official Christmas cards for the White House starting with President Dwight Eisenhower. Since then, Hallmark has designed a Christmas card for every single White House administration with the exception of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Most of those cards have been printed here in Lawrence, Hallmark spokeswoman Deidre Mize said.