A Guide to Lawrence KS Apartments and Neighborhoods
Becoming familiar with the different neighborhoods in Lawrence will help to determine which neighborhood will be the best fit for you, along with knowing how far your commute to the University of Kansas campus will be. To help make your search off-campus housing in Lawrence easier, we have put together a list of neighborhoods that surround the University of Kansas. Each of these neighborhoods is within walking distance to campus, or just a short bike, car, or bus ride away.
Central Lawrence/University of Kansas
The University of Kansas is centrally located in Lawrence. The main campus sits on top of Mount Oread and is commonly called “The Hill,” and it can be seen for miles in every direction. To many locals, the university and the area that surrounds the campus is called the “student ghetto.” Small neighborhoods like Barker, West Hills, University Heights, University Hill, and Oread help to make up this area. It can be more defined as Iowa to Mass Street, running west to east, and from 6th to 31st, going north to south.
This area is just west of Downtown Lawrence and is considered the low-income part of town and has more than 80% student rental properties ranging from houses and apartment complexes. Just like Old West Lawrence, many of the houses in neighborhoods, like Oread, are large Victorian homes that have been transformed into apartments for students to live in. It’s a popular place to live because it’s close to campus and a five-minute walk to Downtown.
Like most college campuses, sports are a big deal and throughout the fall nearly 55,000 people will flock to Memorial Stadium to cheer on the Jayhawks. Football is big but basketball is even bigger at KU. Basketball may have been invented in Springfield, Massachusetts, but the University of Kansas is often referred to as the “Cradle of Basketball” because they have the only basketball program founded by inventor James Naismith and have three NCAA National Championship teams.
The newest part of town is called West Lawrence. Overtime, as Lawrence grew, the city began expanding westward. West Lawrence is considered to be anything that lies west of Iowa Street. The main University of Kansas campus is more centrally located and is closer to Downtown, but the West Campus, which is a research-focused campus, takes up a good portion of the western part of the city. A lot of other neighborhoods in Lawrence have buildings that trace back to the 1800s, while most of the construction in West Lawrence didn’t begin until the 1970s. Here, you’ll see larger apartment complexes, shopping centers, and suburban neighborhoods. Located in West Lawrence is the Alvamar Golf Course and Country Club, Rock Chalk Park, and Johnny’s West where you can grab a slice of east-coast pizza.
The K-10 Highway also wraps around West Lawrence, making commuting easy. It’s said that “no part of town is too far from Downtown or the University.” This area of town may be more of a draw to the student who doesn’t want to take part in the whole “college scene,” like an upperclassman. Overall, this area of town has more of a draw to families who prefer a quieter more spacious place to live.
Less than two miles northeast of the University of Kansas is Downtown Lawrence. Downtown Lawrence is the heart of the city and is made up of streets filled with restaurants, bars, businesses, theaters, bookstores, and boutique shops. The neighborhood has a lot of history dating back before the Civil War, which can easily be seen walking through the streets. In 1863, William Quantrill led a pro-slavery raid and burned the town to the ground and killed many residents.Since then, the town has gone under much growth and expansion where you will see a mix of new mid-rise condos to old stone and brick storefronts. The housing Downtown ranges from single-family homes to condos and multi-family apartment complexes.
Massachusetts Street, or “Mass” to the locals, is ranked as one of the most scenic main streets in America and is one of the most popular spots to live in the city. Many of the stores, bars, and restaurants that cover this street have apartments above them and these apartments are highly sought after. Strolling down Mass, you’ll have your pick of entertainment, live music, parks, and galleries to visit. One of the top spots to go is The Bourgeois Pig, where you can order a cocktail or latte and sit cozily inside or enjoy the large outdoor patio.
They even started selling beers from Torn Label Brewery, and this Kansas City startup is quickly becoming a statewide favorite. Speaking of breweries, Free State Brewery is known for being the oldest brewery in Kansas and has been labeled by some as the “crown jewel of Downtown.” They brew their beers on site and have a large menu to order from. They are usually pretty packed but people can text ahead to save a spot in line. Downtown is also home to the famous and elegant Eldridge Hotel. Take your chances though because this hotel is rumored to be haunted!
Throughout the year, several events are held Downtown like the Downtown Lawrence Film Festival. This event takes place on the lawn at the recently renovated library. Everyone gathers to watch films like “Jurassic Park” and several food vendors, drink vendors, and taco trucks set up camp for everyone to enjoy. Some other events held throughout the year are Free State Festival, Side-Walk Sale, Farmer’s Market, and the St. Patricks Day Parade. South Park, Watson Park, and the Lawrence Pool are all Downtown too for residents to enjoy.
Old West Lawrence
One of Lawrence’s oldest and most historic neighborhoods is Old West Lawrence. When the town was first built, those who lived in this neighborhood were considered the “who’s who” of the town. The homes in Old West Lawrence are known across the country for their unique grandness and their architectural designs shown in the Queen Anne, Tutor, and Italianate style houses. Old West Lawrence runs 12 city blocks and has 50 residential structures, making this neighborhood is the only one in the entire state of Kansas that has this many 19th-century homes in excellent condition. Residents have invested a lot into keeping up with both the exterior and interior of the houses.
Before the westward expansion, this neighborhood was the most western point of the city, hence the name. The neighborhood is just north of the University of Kansas and just west of Downtown Lawrence. Due to the close proximity to both areas of town, along with being a short walking distance to both, Old West Lawrence has a great mix of both families and students. There are more single-family homes in the area, however, but some have been made into rental units that tend to be a little more on the pricey side.
East Lawrence, which has the highest population of artists in the city, is the neighborhood just east of Mass Street. The housing in East Lawrence ranges from homes that are as old as the city to “modern homes that appear to be pulled from the pages of Dwell Magazine.” Downtown Lawrence is close by (about 5-minutes) and there are several trails for both hiking and biking around the entire neighborhood. The East 9th Street Corridor has created a big connection between Downtown and the Warehouse Arts District.
The Warehouse District is an area in East Lawrence where all the old industrial and factory warehouses were revamped into galleries, loft-style apartments, and artist studios. The Poehler Lofts is an old grocery warehouse that was converted into a lofted apartment complex and it also is home to the Cider Gallery which is a gallery and event space that displays rotating local art. Each year the Warehouse District holds the Kansas Food Truck Festival that brings thousands of foodies together to try out the treats. A lot of newer development has also been happening on New Hampshire Street and the surrounding areas.
North Lawrence is located north of the Kansas River just across from Downtown Lawrence. It has much more of a rural feel to it than any other part of Lawrence and you’ll find tons of veggie gardens and people who have chickens roaming about their yards. North Lawrence is as old as the city itself and has a lot of the city’s cheaper and smaller houses along with several rental units.
There is a diverse mix of young families, some students, and older people who have lived in the area their whole lives. North Lawrence is mostly a residential area, but there are also several local businesses in the neighborhood like Johnny’s Tavern, which is a favored bar and restaurant and has been named the “most iconic bar in Kansas.” Other popular bars in the area are Green Lantern, and Frank’s North Star which has a big motorcycle crowd. Some other things throughout the neighborhood are a variety of antique shops and furniture stores.
To recap, here are some helpful tips/reminders:
All housing in the Lawrence neighborhoods mentioned are less than 4 miles to the University of Kansas campus
Most students living off-campus in Lawrence live in Central Lawrence in the small neighborhoods surrounding the campus
Housing in different areas, besides Central, will require bike, car or bus transportation
Make sure your new place is easily accessible to shopping and grocery stores for running errands
Use Google Maps to determine the distance of a property you are considering to the University of Kansas campus