Parsons is a city in the northern part of Labette County, located in southeast Kansas, in the Central United States. The population was 11,514 at the 2000 census, and it was estimated to be in the year . It is the most populous city of Labette County, and it is the second most populous city in the southeastern region of Kansas.
On June 5, 2006 the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Parsons a 2006 Great American Main Street Award winner for its successful efforts in revitalizing its downtown area through historic preservation. The award was presented during the 2006 National Main Streets Conference in New Orleans. Parsons was one of only five cities receiving the 2006 award.
In 1957 the Hospital was renamed Parsons State Hospital and Training Center. At that time it began providing programs for individuals with developmental disabilities. The Hospital occupies 43 buildings on 163 acres. The hospital also includes residential services, the University Center on Developmental Disabilities and the Parsons Research Center for the University of Kansas, the Special Purpose School of the Southeast Regional Education Service Center. The Southeast Kansas Agricultural Research Center of Kansas State University is also located on the grounds.
The first library in Parsons began as a subscription library in 1904 and was located in the city hall. Parsons Public Library, a Carnegie library, officially opened on May 18, 1909. A new library building was opened on April 18, 1977, and the old library building has since been renovated to become a visual and performing arts center.
The sale of Katy Industries to Union Pacific, in 1988, eventually saw the loss of scores of railroad jobs and, in effect, severed a major part of Parsons' city history which stretched back to its 1871 incorporation. While, in return, the city received a million dollars to help it recover (and so that it would not file lengthy paperwork opposing the sale and thus delaying it), that money was soon spent and the only reminder of the Katy Railroad is now found in the local historical society's museum and of course the tracks, over which trains now speed through Parsons. The Kansas Kansas Army Ammunition Plant also was down scaled in the 1980s. Local authorities seemed powerless to halt the economic decline.
On April 19, 2000, an F3 tornado cut a devastating path of destruction through the center of Parsons. Eight hundred homes, one hundred twenty businesses, hundreds of vehicles were destroyed or damaged.
In June 2008, new ownership of the daily newspaper, The Parsons Sun, began monthly charges for access to its internet site, making it one of the very few online newspapers to do so.
Parsons is the home of Dwayne's Photo, which is the last processor of K-14 Kodachrome film in the United States, and one of only 2 left in the world as of September 2008.
The Kansas Army Ammunition Plant (KSAAP) is located southeast of the city. The facility was completed in 1942 to support World War II operations and consists of 21 separate facilities over 13,727 acres. The installation is actively used as a munitions loading, assembly, and packing facility.
Parsons's population was estimated to be in the year , .
As of the U.S. Census in 2000, there were 11,514 people, 4,738 households, and 2,909 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,111.2 people per square mile (429.1/km²). There were 5,359 housing units at an average density of 517.2/sq mi (199.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 85.54% White, 8.17% Black or African American, 1.12% Native American, 0.42% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.90% from other races, and 2.84% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.64% of the population.
There were 4,738 households out of which 30.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.3% were married couples living together, 13.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.6% were non-families. 33.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.96.
In the city the population was spread out with 26.2% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $28,345, and the median income for a family was $36,557. Males had a median income of $28,667 versus $21,558 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,763. About 9.9% of families and 14.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.3% of those under age 18 and 11.5% of those age 65 or over.
USD 506 Labette County District Schools (Serves rural and western Parsons inside Labette County)
USD 504 Oswego District Schools (Serves eastern rural Parsons)