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The Land where Leavenworth and Fort Leavenworth are located today was originally inhabited by the Kansa, Osage and Delaware Indians and today many of our streets are named after these and other local Indian tribes.

In the picture above, the camera looks east on Delaware from the corner of Fifth Street, about 1870. The photograph was take by E.E. Henry, an early Leavenworth photographer whose studio was in 300 block of Delaware.
In 1827, Colonel Henry Leavenworth founded Fort Leavenworth on the bluffs of the Missouri River. For the next several decades Fort Leavenworth played an important role in keeping the peace among the various Indian tribes and the increasing number of settlers heading west. By the 1840's, travel to Oregon and California had begun and thousands of wagons passed through Fort Leavenworth on the way to the Santa Fe and Oregon Trail.

In 1854, the City of Leavenworth was founded as the very first city of Kansas. Leavenworth became nationally known as the 'jumping off point' for the opening of the West. Buffalo Bill Cody spent part of his youth here and later worked in the area as a Pony Express rider and Army scout. Cody's parents are buried in Leavenworth.

In 1858, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth settled here. In 1864, the Sisters opened St. John's Hospital and in 1923 founded Saint Mary College.

In 1863, the legislature passed an act to erect the Kansas State Penitentiary on a site which is now located within the city of Lansing. The contract to build the prison was let in 1863 and work started in 1864. However, because of money difficulties connected with the Civil War, work stopped in 1864 and did not resume again until 1866. The building was first occupied in 1868.
This was the 400 block of Shawnee, looking west from Fourth Street, about 1870.

At the corner of Fifth and Shawnee was the market house.

Rooms for municipal offices were on the second floor.
In 1878, James William Lansing was part owner of 90 acres of land, which was platted into town lots. He and co-owner, John C. Schmidt named the area 'Lansing.' Eventually, both 'Lansing' on the west side of the road, and 'Town of Progress" on the east side of the road all became known as 'Lansing.' The city of Lansing was not incorporated until 1959. Since that time, the business as well as the residential areas have grown considerably. It is today, as those early pioneers knew it would be, 'a city with a future.'

In 1881, the school that was later to become the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College was founded on Fort Leavenworth by General William T Sherman. Some of the many famous students and instructors at the college are George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, Colin Powell and George Patton.
In the 1930s and 40s, Leavenworth staged Pioneer Days celebrations, forerunners of the annual Buffalo Bill Days celebrations which began in the late 1960s.

Crowds gathered on Delaware Street to view a 1948 parade which included a number of wagons, carriages and a hearse, right foreground.
In 1885, the Wadsworth of Old Soldiers Home was built, and later became the Veterans Administration Center. In 1893, the Immanuel Chapel, made famous in Ripley's 'Believe It or Not,' was built on the VA grounds.

In 1906, the first cellhouse of the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary was opened. Among the infamous criminals incarcerated here were Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly and Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz. This imposing facility took over 11 years to complete.

The National Hotel was built at the northeast corner of Fifth and Cherokee in 1885. Many Leavenworth social and political gatherings were held there. Carry Nation was a guest at the National Hotel during her Leavenworth visit in 1901. Heavily damaged in a 1963 fire, the hotel was razed.

Delaware Street, 1997
Leavenworth has two Sister Cities: Wagga Wagga, Australia since 1962 and Omi Hachiman, Japan since 1997.
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