is the 6th largest city in the U.S. State of Kansas and the county seat of Douglas County. Located in northeastern Kansas, Lawrence is the anchor city of the Lawrence, Kansas Metropolitan Area which encompasses all of Douglas County. Located twenty-five miles east of Topeka, Kansas, and forty-one miles west of Kansas City, Missouri, it is situated along the banks of the Kansas and Wakarusa Rivers. In 2007, the city had an estimated population of 89,852. Lawrence is a college town and is the home to the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University.
Lawrence was founded in 1854 for the New England Emigrant Aid Company by Charles Robinson, who later served as governor of Kansas. The city was named after Amos Adams Lawrence, a prominent politician and antislavery partisan and the son of famed philanthropist Amos Lawrence. Lawrence was Robinson's counsin and a major source of funds and support for the new settlement.
In the Bleeding Kansas era, Lawrence was a center of anti-slavery sentiment. On May 21, 1856, a pro-slavery posse led by Sheriff Samuel J. Jones burned the Free-State Hotel, destroyed the equipment of two anti-slavery newspapers, and looted several other businesses in an attack known as the sack of Lawrence; one man was killed, struck dead by a stone falling from the burning hotel. Abolitionist John Brown's nearby Pottawatomie Massacre is believed to have been a reaction to this event. On August 21, 1863, during the American Civil War, Confederate guerrillas led by William Quantrill burned most of the houses and commercial buildings in Lawrence and killed 150 to 200 of the men they found in the Lawrence Massacre. Of historical importance is KU's
, perhaps best known for being the final resting place of Thomas Barber, a free-state settler, and Elmer McCollum, KU alumnus who is credited with discovering Vitamin A. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, is buried in East Lawrence in Memorial Park Cemetery.
The University of Kansas was founded in Lawrence in 1865 by the citizens of Lawrence under a charter granted by the Kansas Legislature, with the donation of 40 acres (160,000 m²) of land on Mount Oread by former Kansas Governor Charles Robinson and his wife, Sara, and a small monetary gift from Amos Adams Lawrence. As a college town, Lawrence is known for its liberal philosophy and distinctive culture.
In 1989, when the Free State Brewing Co. opened in Lawrence, it was the first legal brewery in Kansas in more than 100 years. The restaurant is in a renovated inter-trolley station in downtown Lawrence. The city is home to the state's only hydro-electric plant.
In the early 1980s Lawrence grabbed national and later world attention because of the television movie
. The TV movie first appeared on ABC but was later shown in movie theaters around the world. The movie depicted what would happen to average Americans, particularly those living in Lawrence and surrounding communities, if the United States was destroyed in a nuclear war. The movie was filmed in Lawrence with help from many people in the community.