There’s a vibe in Riverside that you just don’t find in other Wichita neighborhoods. Perhaps it’s because the historic neighborhood’s proximity to downtown, parks, and museums. Or, perhaps it’s the streets lined with mature trees and homes with eclectic architecture. Whatever the reason, Riverside is a family-friendly Wichita neighborhood that offers a wide variety of cultural and recreational opportunities.
One of the primary reasons Riverside is one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Wichita is its central location. Many people, from young professionals to families, enjoy living in the quiet area near downtown businesses and the shops and restaurants in Delano.
The Riverside neighborhood is located south of 13th Street, between the Arkansas River and Little Arkansas River. It’s bordered on the east by Bitting and Nims Streets.
Riverside residents enjoy easy access to Kellogg and I-135, and downtown Wichita is just a few blocks southeast. Other well-known areas are conveniently located nearby, including Indian Hills, Delano and Midtown.
In March 1886, the Riverside Land Company founded the Riverside neighborhood with the intent to make it the most stylish area in Wichita. James Oakley Davidson, a developer, headed up surveying and platting the land, and a trolley line and bridges were built to connect the neighborhood to the downtown area. Unfortunately, the Wichita real estate market collapsed a year later, and no more progress was made on the development for the next 10 years.
Finally, the City of Wichita stepped in and purchased some of the land in Riverside in 1897. The City built parks and two more bridges, which made it easier to access the neighborhood. The surge in development attracted both home buyers and area residents who wanted to enjoy the area’s recreation amenities. The neighborhood’s popularity continued to grow over the years, as the City continued to develop more attractions, including a zoo, a swimming pool, and a Boathouse. These were all torn down in the 60s and 70s, and replaced with the Sedgwick County Zoo, the Ralph Wulz Tennis Center, and a new Boathouse.
Today, Riverside is filled with tree-lined streets featuring historic early 20th Century bungalow, Tudor and Victorian homes, and features several museums. The parks in the area have grown to include a golf course, children’s playground and splash pad, tennis center, and more.
Amenities and Things to Do
People drive from all over the city to experience the activities and amenities Riverside offers. Residents have Wichita’s museums, rivers and parks right in their own back yard.
Riverside Parks – Developed under the leadership of former Wichita Mayor Finlay Ross with land acquired between 1886 and 1917, it’s located on a bend of the Little Arkansas River. It consists of three areas: North, Central, and South, which are separate but near each other. Featuring walking paths, a wildlife exhibit, a children’s playground, interactive water fountain, the Ralph Wulz Riverside Tennis Center, a lily pond and gazebo, lots of open areas with picnic tables and benches, a community building, and more.
Kansas Wildlife Exhibit - A free display of native animals living in naturalized enclosures, located in Central Riverside Park near the children’s playground.
Ralph Wulz Riverside Tennis Center – Public tennis facility featuring indoor and outdoor courts in South Riverside Park.
Museums – Several Wichita museums are located next to South Riverside Park, including the Wichita Art Museum; Mid-America All-Indian Center; Botanica, The Wichita Gardens; and Old Cowtown Museum.
Sim Park and Golf Course – Just next to Botanica, the public golf course is 6,330 yards with a 71 par, and the park features picnic areas and outdoor exercise/fitness stations.
Keeper of the Plains – Located near Exploration Place, where the Little and Big Arkansas Rivers meet, the 44-foot tall steel sculpture was installed in 1974. The City of Wichita chose Native American artist Blackbear Bosin to create the piece, and it has become an icon of the community. There are to pedestrian bridges that give access to the Keeper of the Plains Plaza, which features a water display and a nightly Ring of Fire show.
Neighborhood Events – Held throughout the year, including a children’s parade and 4th of July pancake feed.
Restaurants – Riverside Café, located at 13th & Bitting, serves up affordable classic dishes and breakfast all day. R Coffee House (formerly Riverside Perk) is located at 11th and Bitting, and features specialty coffees, pastries, comfort food, and live entertainment.
Schools - North High, Marshall Middle School, and Riverside Elementary
The Riverside Castle – One of the most well-known buildings in Riverside, the Castle was built in 1888 by one of the Riverside Land Company’s investors, Burton Campbell. Built in the style of the castles of Scotland, it still stands today, on the Little Arkansas River near 11th and River Blvd. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, it was originally known as Campbell Castle, and later as Crumm Castle, after Maye Crumm, who purchased it in 1960. The building has been a residence, the “Belle Carter High School” for girls, and most recently a bed and breakfast called The Castle Inn Riverside. The Inn ceased operations at the end of 2012 and is still up for sale as of January, 2016.