Leavenworth (population 35,420), located on the Missouri River, became the first city in Kansas when it was incorporated in 1854. It served as the springboard for the settlement of the rest of the State and the support base for the opening of the West.
Built largely to support Fort Leavenworth (founded in 1827) and the settlers heading west, it was home to freight companies, meat packers, provisioners, stove makers and furniture manufacturers.
Leavenworth continues to have a strong Federal presence. In addition to Fort Leavenworth it is the location of the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary (founded 1895) and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Veterans Affairs Medical Center (founded in 1865). Under a recent agreement between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and a private developer, 38 historic buildings at the medical center will be leased, rehabilitated, and adaptively used.
Before settlement of the community, Lewis and Clark passed through the area during their epic journey of discovery. Leavenworth has joined with nearby communities to commemorate the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial with special events in 2004 through 2006, including recognition of the first Fourth of July celebration held in the Louisiana Territory.
Reflecting the community's later history, Leavenworth has eight historic districts in the National Register of Historic Places, more than any other city in the State. Important sites are highlighted in Leavenworth's Historic Wayside Tour, where interpretive wayside stations provide visual information and audio narration about each site.
Designated a Preserve America Community in June 2005.