About Lawrence

Kanagawa students and the Downtown Lawrence sign
Kanagawa 2020 students visiting downtown Lawrence

The City of Lawrence

Lawrence, Kansas is a community of just over 90,000 residents that has grown up along the Kansas River.  It is located just 45 minutes west of Kansas City, Missouri, a major mid-west metropolitan city. It is 30 minutes east of Topeka, the Kansas state capitol.  With two universities, a thriving arts and music scene, exciting nightlife, and shopping in picturesque downtown, Lawrence really is an American small-town treasure.

Downtown Lawrence

Within walking distance from KU is Lawrence’s number one tourist attraction, the downtown shopping area.  Whether you are a “shopaholic” or just a window shopper, you will want to visit. Often called the heart and soul of our town, downtown Lawrence in centered around historic, tree-lined Massachusetts Street. It is filled with boutiques, restaurants, street-side cafes, coffee shops, art galleries, and an antiques mall. There is even a 1911 opera house called Liberty Hall, which has live music, theater productions, art-movies and art-house videos to rent.  Many of the shops are locally owned and unique to Lawrence.  From campus you can walk or take a bus downtown. 


Lawrence was formed in the late 1800s by citizens who wanted to keep this region anti-slavery during the U.S. Civil War. In fact, Lawrence is one of the few US cities founded for purely political reasons. It became an important stop for enslaved people trying to reach freedom from the slave states of the southern U.S. This did not happen, however, without bloody conflicts between pro-slavery and anti-slavery supporters in this area. To this day, many Lawrence residents are proud of our town’s role in the fight against slavery during the Civil War. 

In more recent history, Lawrence has also become known as the town where basketball “came of age”.  Basketball came to KU in 1898 and in the last hundred years it has developed into a strong program that is rich in traditions and winning seasons! 

In addition to the University of Kansas, Lawrence is proud to be the home of Haskell Indian Nations University.  Haskell is a premier Native American educational institution. The university has a rich and diverse history with students representing 150 Native American tribes throughout the US.  Haskell sponsors many community events throughout the year including the Indian Arts Show, powwows, and community lectures.

Additional Lawrence resources