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Amarillo is a city in the U.S. state of Texas and the county seat of Potter County. A portion of the city extends into Randall County. As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the city had a total population of 173,627 (though a July 1, 2005 estimate placed the city's population at 183,021). The Amarillo metropolitan area, however, has an estimated population of 236,113 in four counties.

The city once self-proclaimed as the "Helium Capital of the World" for having one of the country's most productive helium fields. The city is also known as "The Yellow Rose of Texas" and most recently "Rotor City, USA" for its V-22 Osprey hybrid aircraft assembly plant.[1] Amarillo operates one of the largest meat packing areas in the United States. Pantex, the only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility in the country, is also a major employer. The attractions, Cadillac Ranch and Big Texan Steak Ranch, were located on old U.S. Route 66, which passes through the city.

Contents [hide]
1 History
2 Geography and climate
2.1 Cityscape
2.2 Climate
3 Demographics
4 Law and government
5 Economy
6 Education
7 Culture
7.1 Museums and art collections
7.2 Local media
7.3 Outside media attention
7.4 Sports
8 Infrastructure
8.1 Transportation
8.2 Medical centers and hospitals
8.3 Utilities
9 References
10 External links

In April 1887, J. T. Berry established a site for a town after he chose a well-watered section along the way of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad, which had begun building across the Texas Panhandle. Berry and Colorado City, Texas merchants wanted to make their new town site the region's main trading center. On August 30, 1887, Berry's town site won the county seat election and was established in Potter County. Availability of the railroad and freight service after the county seat election made the town a fast growing cattle marketing center.[2]

The settlement originally was called Oneida, it would later change its name to Amarillo. Amarillo's name probably derives from the nearby Amarillo Lake and Amarillo Creek, named in turn for the yellow soil along their banks and shores (Amarillo is the Spanish word for the color yellow) or the yellow wildflowers that were plentiful during the spring and summer. Despite having a Spanish origin name, the City of Amarillo is pronounced in English as Am-ah-RILL-ow not Ah-mah-REE-yoh. Early residents pronounced it according to the Spanish pronunciation, but within a year, the English pronunciation prevailed. Charles F. Rudolph, editor of the Tascosa Pioneer, predicted the pronunciation change after blaming Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad employees for ignoring the word's Spanish pronunciation.[3]

An aeroplane view of the Amarillo business district in 1912.On June 19, 1888, Henry B. Sanborn, who is given credit as the "Father of Amarillo," and his business partner Joseph F. Glidden began buying land to the east to move Amarillo after arguing that Berry's site was on low ground and would flood during rainstorms.[4] Sanborn also offered to trade lots in the new location to businesses in the original city’s site and help the expense of moving buildings. His incentives gradually won over people, who moved their businesses to Polk Street in the new commercial district. It rained heavily and almost flooded Berry’s part of the town in 1889 and prompted more people to move to Sanborn's location. Eventually it would lead to another county seat election made Sanborn's town the new county seat in 1893.[2]

By the late 1890s, Amarillo had emerged as one of the world's busiest cattle shipping points, and its population grew significantly. The city became an elevator, milling, and feed-manufacturing center after an increasing production of wheat and small grains during the early 1900s. Discovery of gas in 1918 and oil three years later brought oil and gas companies to the Amarillo area.[2] The United States government bought the Cliffside Gas Field with high helium content in 1927 and the Federal Bureau of Mines began operating the Amarillo Helium Plant two years later.[5] The plant would be the sole producer of commercial helium in the world for a number of years.[6] The U.S. National Helium Reserve is stored in the Bush Dome Reservoir at the Cliffside facility.[7]

Following the lead of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad established services to and from Amarillo. Each of these three carriers maintained substantial freight and passenger depots and repair facilities in the city through most of the 20th century and were major employers within the community.[8]

During the 1930s, the city was hit by the Dust Bowl and entered into an economic depression. The U.S. Routes 60, 87, 287, and 66 merged at Amarillo, making it a major tourist stop with numerous motels, restaurants, and curio shops. World War II led the establishment of Amarillo Army Air Field in east Amarillo and the nearby Pantex Army Ordnance Plant, which produced bombs and ammunition. After the end of the war, both of the facilities were closed. The Pantex Plant was reopened in 1950 and produced nuclear weapons throughout the Cold War.[2] The following year, the army air base was reactivated as Amarillo Air Force Base and expanded to accommodate a Strategic Air Command B-52 Stratofortress wing.[9] The arrival of servicemen and their families ended the city's depression. Between 1950 and 1960, Amarillo's population grew from 74,443 to 137,969. However, the closure of the Amarillo Air Force Base on December 31, 1968, contributed to a decrease in population to 127,010 by 1970. In the 1970s, ASARCO, Iowa Beef Processors, Owens-Corning and Weyerhaeuser built plants at Amarillo. The following decade, Amarillo's city limits encompassed 60 square miles in Potter and Randall counties. The intrastate interstate highway I-27 connecting Lubbock to Amarillo was built mostly during the 1980s.[2]

Geography and climate

Lighthouse hoodoo in Palo Duro Canyon. The canyon system is located south of the city.Amarillo is located near the middle of the Texas Panhandle and is part of the Llano Estacado or Staked Plains region which has a surface that is relatively flat and has little drainage in the soil. Due to the lack of developed drainage, much of the rainfall either evaporates, infiltrates into the ground, or accumulates in playa lakes.[10] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 90.3 mi² (233.9 km²). 89.9 mi² (232.7 km²) of it is land and 0.4 mi² (1.2 km²) of it (0.50%) is water. The Amarillo metropolitan area is the 180th-largest in the United States with a population of 236,113 in four counties: Armstrong, Carson, Potter, and Randall.

About 40 mi (64 km) northeast of Amarillo is the Canadian River, which divides the southern part of the High Plains to form the Llano Estacado. The river is dammed to form Lake Meredith, a major source of drinking water in the Texas Panhandle region.[11] The city is situated near the Panhandle Field, in a productive gas and oil area, covering 200,000 surface acres in Hartley, Potter, Moore, Hutchinson, Carson, Gray, Wheeler, and Collingsworth counties. The Potter County portion had the nation's largest natural gas reserve.[12] Approximately 25 mi (40 km) south of Amarillo is the canyon system, Palo Duro Canyon.

Most of Amarillo’s population growth and commercial development are occurring in the southern and northwestern parts of the city.[13] Similar to many towns in the Texas Panhandle, the city’s downtown has suffered economic deterioration throughout the years.[14] In order to try to help revitalize it, the organization Center City of Amarillo was formed to establish partnerships with groups who have a huge presence in the city to support the downtown.[15] Since its conception in the 1990s, Center City created archways over two streets, sponsors public art projects such as murals, and started block parties in the downtown area.

The 31-story Chase Tower, the tallest building between Dallas and Denver, was opened in Amarillo's downtown in 1971. It is an office building and had two prior names: SPS Tower and Bank One Center.[16] Completed in the same year as the Chase Tower, the Amarillo National Bank Plaza One building houses the headquarters of Amarillo National Bank, the city's largest financial institution.[17][18] The Santa Fe Building, completed in 1930, was the regional offices of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway company but was vacant for several years until Potter County bought the building for US$426,000 in 1995 to gain new office spaces.[19]

The Santa Fe Building in the downtown area.Amarillo's historic homes and buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places reflect the economic growth from around 1900 to the start of World War II. Polk Street contains many of the city's historic downtown buildings and homes. The large historic homes on this street were built close to downtown, and homes were located on the west side of the street as a symbol of status because they would be greeted with the sunrise every morning. A local newspaper article in 1914 promoted the planting of trees as a sanitary asset due to the author cited studies by the New York County Medical Society and the New York City Park Commission which claims areas with trees have less bacteria and fewer dust particles. The trees that lasted the Texas Panhandle environment line the streets in Amarillo's older neighborhoods.[20]

The City of Amarillo's Parks and Recreation Department operates over 50 municipal parks including a skatepark, west of the city. Amarillo's largest parks are Medical Park, Thompson Memorial Park, and Memorial Park, near Amarillo College's Washington Street Campus. From 1978 to 2002, the Junior League of Amarillo and the City of Amarillo's Parks and Recreation Department co-sponsored Funfest, a family entertainment festival, benefiting the city parks and the league's Community Chest Trust Fund. Funfest was held in Thompson Memorial Park during Memorial Day weekend.[21] Completed in 2000, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park adjoins with a shallow playa lake which located south of it was the original town site of Amarillo.[22]

Amarillo and along with the Texas Panhandle's climate is classified as subhumid to semiarid. It is characterized by a rush of cold air from the north or northwest into a warmer area and occasionally, by blizzards during the winter season and a hot summer. The normal annual rainfall for Amarillo is approximately 20 inches (508 mm). Most of the region's precipitation occurs in the late spring and summer months, and the least occurs from November through March.[23] The January's average high in the city is 49 °F (9 °C) and average low is 22 °F (-6 °C); July's average high is 91 °F (33 °C) and average low is 65 °F (18 °C).[24] The highest temperature ever recorded in Amarillo was 108 °F (42 °C); the lowest was -16 °F (-27 °C).[25] Amarillo is in an area of the United States which tornadoes are most frequent called the "Tornado Alley."

Amarillo's climate [24] Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high temperature °F (°C) 49
(9.4) 53
(11.7) 61
(16.1) 71
(21.7) 79
(26.1) 88
(31.1) 91
(32.8) 89
(31.7) 82
(27.8) 72
(22.2) 59
(15.0) 51
(10.5) 71
Average low temperature °F (°C) 22
(–5.5) 26
(–3.3) 32
(0.0) 42
(5.5) 52
(11.1) 61
(16.1) 66
(18.9) 64
(17.8) 57
(13.9) 45
(7.2) 32
(0.0) 24
(–4.4) 44
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.5
(12.7) 0.6
(15.2) 0.9
(22.9) 1.1
(27.9) 2.8
(71.1) 3.5
(88.9) 2.8
(71.1) 3.0
(76.2) 1.9
(48.3) 1.3
(33.0) 0.6
(15.2) 0.5
(12.7) 19.6


This map shows the city's average number of inhabitants per square mile of land in 2000.Amarillo
Population by year [26] Year Pop.
1940 51,686
1950 74,246
1960 137,969
1970 127,010
1980 149,230
1990 157,615
2000 173,627
2005 (est.) 183,021
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 173,627 people, 67,699 households, and 45,764 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,932.1/mi² (746.0/km²). There were 72,408 housing units at an average density of 805.8/mi² (311.1/km²). Given Amarillo's growth rate, however, the numbers have increased, and the city's population is approximately 183,021 according to a July 1, 2005 estimate.

The racial makeup of the city was 77.50% White, 5.97% African American, 0.78% Native American, 2.05% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 11.32% from other races, and 2.34% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 21.86% of the population which had a significant increase of 63.35% compare to the 1990 U.S. Census report.[26]

There were 67,699 households, of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.6% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.4% were classified as non-families by the United States Census Bureau. Of 67,699 households, 2,981 were unmarried partner households: 2,713 heterosexual, 82 same-sex male, and 186 same-sex female. 27.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.9% have someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 3.10.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.9% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 20.5% from 45 to 64, and 12.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there are 92.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,940, and the median income for a family was $42,536. Males had a median income of $31,321 versus $22,562 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,621. About 11.1% of families and 14.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.6% of those under age 18 and 9.3% of those age 65 or over. Approximately 37.5% of African American households in 2000 had an income below $15,000, compared to 17.59% of White households and 22.08% of Hispanic households. In addition, about over 34.6% of the total African American population lived in poverty, compared to 22.8% of the Hispanic population and 10% of the White population.[26]

Law and government
In 1913, Amarillo became the first Texas city and the fifth in United States to use the council-manager form of municipal government, with all governmental powers resting in a legislative body called a commission.[27][28] Amarillo's commission composed of five elected commissioners, one of whom is the mayor of the city. The mayor and each commissioner serves a two-year term. The role of the commission is to pass ordinances and resolutions, adopt regulations, and appoint city officials, including the city manager. While the mayor serves as a presiding officer of the commission, the city manager is the administrative head of the municipal government, and is responsible for the administration of all departments. The city commission holds its regular meetings on Tuesday of each week.[29]

2005 Commission members Mayor Debra McCartt
Commissioner Place 1 Madison Scott
Commissioner Place 2 Paul Harpole
Commissioner Place 3 Robert Keys
Commissioner Place 4 Jim Simms
City administration City manager Alan M. Taylor
Assistant city manager Jarrett Atkinson

Amarillo is in the U.S. House 13th Congressional district, and is represented by Representative Mac Thornberry. In the Texas Legislature, the city is in the 31st District in the Texas Senate and in the 87th district in the Texas House of Representatives. As the seat of Potter County, the city is the location of the county's trial, civil, and criminal courts. The Randall County Amarillo Annex building is located within the city limits and houses its Sheriff's Office and Justice of the Peace Court, Precinct 4.

See also: List of companies in Amarillo, Texas

The Potter County Courthouse contains the offices of the county judge and clerk.Amarillo is considered the regional economical center for the Texas Panhandle as well as Eastern New Mexico and the Oklahoma Panhandle. The meat packing industry is a major employer in Amarillo; about one-quarter of the United States' beef supply is processed in the area. The city is also the location of headquarters for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. Petroleum extraction is also a major industry. The helium industry has decreased in significance since the federal government privatized local operations in the late 1990s. Bell Helicopter Textron opened a helicopter assembly plant near the city's international airport in 1999.[30] According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry with the largest contribution to personal income in the city was the services industry with 23.52% in 2000. The government industry contributed 16.37% while retail trade category contributed 10.16%.[26]

The city's largest employer in 2005 is Tyson Foods with 3,700 employees. The Amarillo Independent School District is next with 3,659 employees followed by BWXT Pantex, Baptist St. Anthony’s Health Care System, City of Amarillo, Northwest Texas Healthcare System, Amarillo College, and United Supermarkets.[26] Other major employers include Bell Helicopter Textron, Owens-Corning, and ASARCO.

Approximately 14 million acres (5.7 million hectares) of agricultural land surrounds the city with corn, wheat and cotton as the primary crops. Other crops in the area include sorghum, silage, hay and soybeans.[31] The Texas Panhandle, particularly in Hereford, Texas, serves as a fast growing milk producing area as several multi-million dollar state of the art dairies were built in early 2000s.[32]

The Amarillo Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) is funded by a city sales tax, and it provides aggressive incentive packages to existing and prospective employers. In the mid-to-late 1990s, the AEDC gained notoriety by sending mock checks to businesses across the country, placing full-page advertisements in The Wall Street Journal, and paying an annual $1 million subsidy to American Airlines to retain jet service.[33][34] The AEDC is largely responsible for bringing Bell Helicopter Textron's development of the V-22 Osprey hybrid aircraft and the future site of Marine One assembly in Amarillo.[35]


The clock tower at the Amarillo College's Washington Street Campus.According to the 2000 United States Census, 20.5% of all adults over the age of 25 in Amarillo have obtained a bachelor's degree, as compared to a national average of 24.4% of adults over 25, and 79.3% of Amarillo residents over the age of 25 have earned a high school diploma, as compared to the national average of 80.4%.[36]

The higher education institutions in the city are Amarillo College, a two-year community college with over 10,000 students; Wayland Baptist University, a private university based in Plainview, has a branch campus in Amarillo; and Texas Tech University at Amarillo, a branch campus of Texas Tech University that offers selected master's degree programs. West Texas A&M University, in nearby Canyon, is the regional university in the Amarillo area and the Texas Panhandle.

The public primary and secondary education are mostly handled by the Amarillo Independent School District (AISD) and Canyon Independent School District. (CISD) The AISD has approximately 29,000 students in 2004 while CISD has over 8,000 students in 2005.[37][38] The AISD operates 4 high schools, 9 middle schools, 36 elementary schools, a specialty high school, and an alternative school. While, the CISD has 1 high school, 2 junior high/intermediate schools, and 4 elementary schools in Amarillo. Other school districts in the city are River Road, Highland Park, and Bushland Independent School Districts. Nonreligious and Christian denomination private schools in Amarillo include St. Andrew's Episcopal School, Holy Cross Catholic Academy, Amarillo Montessori Academy, San Jacinto Christian Academy, and Arbor Christian Academy.

Amarillo has a number of natural attractions near the city. The Palo Duro Canyon State Park is United States' second largest canyon system, after the Grand Canyon and is located south of Amarillo. Palo Duro has a distinct hoodoo that resembles a lighthouse. Another natural landmark near the city, the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument is located 30 miles (48.2 km) north of Amarillo. It is once known as the site for prehistoric inhabitants to obtain flint in order to make tools and weapons. About 100 miles (161 km) southeast of Amarillo in Briscoe County is Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway, the state park is the home of the official Texas State Bison Herd, who were captured and taken care of by cattle rancher Charles Goodnight.[39]

The Cadillac Ranch is located west of Amarillo on Interstate 40Local millionare Stanley Marsh 3 has funded many public art projects in the city including the Cadillac Ranch, located west of Amarillo on I-40, a monument of painted Cadillac automobiles that were dug into the ground head first. Marsh also participates an on-going art project called the Dynamite Museum, which consist of thousands of mock traffic signs. These signs, bearing messages such as "Road does not end" or displaying a random picture, are scattered throughout the city of Amarillo.[40]

The city has events and attractions honoring the cowboy and Texas culture. During the third week of September, the Tri-State Fair & Rodeo brings participants mostly from Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas to Amarillo since 1921.[41] On the Tri-State Exposition grounds, the Amarillo National Center is a special events center for events ranging from national equestrian competitions to motor sports and rodeos. The World Championship Ranch Rodeo sponsored by the Working Ranch Cowboys Association is held every November in the Amarillo Civic Center. Amarillo hosts the annual World Championship Chuckwagon Roundup the first weekend in June. Teams in competition prepare a feast of breaded beef cutlets, mashed potatoes, baked beans, and sourdough biscuits and attempt to duplicate the food served on western cattle trails of the 1860s and 1870s.[42] The Amarillo Livestock Auction holds a free to the public cattle auction on Tuesdays. Now located on I-40, The Big Texan Steak Ranch, was made famous by offering visitors a free 72 ounce (2 kg) beef steak if they eat it and its accompanying dinner in under an hour.

Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts, opened in 2006, houses the Amarillo Opera, Amarillo Symphony, and Lone Star Ballet concerts. The facility, located just across the Amarillo Civic Center, features a 1,300-seat auditorium. The Globe-News Center was built in hope by the city officials and others that it will spur a revitalization of the downtown area.[43] The nonprofit community theater group, Amarillo Little Theatre, has its season run from September to May. The theater group's two facilities are located west of Amarillo's downtown. In the Palo Duro Canyon’s amphitheatre, an outdoor musical called Texas plays nightly during the summer. The musical depicts a story about the history of Texas Panhandle settlers throughout the years. In 2002, the producers changed its name to Texas Legacies after retiring the previous script that was used for 37-years for a more historically accurate one but they decided to revert back to the original script due to declining attendance in 2006.[44][45]

The Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts building is located near the Amarillo Civic Center.The Amarillo Public Library is affiliated with the Harrington Library Consortium. The consortium consist of public, college, and school libraries located in the Texas Panhandle that share resources and cooperate with one another. Other members include the Amarillo's public schools, Amarillo College, Canyon Area Library, Lovett Memorial Library in Pampa, Texas, and Hutchinson County Library in Borger, Texas.[46] The Amarillo Public Library's main branch is located in downtown and operates 4 neighborhood branches.

Amarillo residents are known as Amarilloans. Notable Amarilloans include the Dory Funk wrestling family, astronaut Rick Husband, actress Carolyn Jones, actress and dancer Cyd Charisse, politican John Marvin Jones, businessman T. Boone Pickens, Jr., and famed gambler Thomas "Amarillo Slim" Preston.

Museums and art collections
The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) is an international organization dedicated to the preservation, improvement and record-keeping of the American Quarter Horse breed. The organization is headquartered in Amarillo and has a museum. In addition, the AQHA and Center City of Amarillo co-sponsors the project, "Hoof Prints of the American Quarter Horse" which consist of horse statues located in front of several Amarillo businesses. An area business would purchase a horse statue and a local artist paints on it.[47]

Two of the Amarillo area's higher education institutions have at least one museum in their campuses. The Amarillo Art Center, opened in 1972, is a building complex with an art museum and concert hall located on the Washington Street Campus of Amarillo College. In addition, Amarillo College's Washington Street Campus is the home of the largest natural history museum of any two-year college in the United States.[48] Located on the campus of West Texas A&M University, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum claims to be the largest historical museum in Texas.

Don Harrington Discovery Center, located in the city's hospital district, is an interactive science center and space theater with over 60 hands-on exhibits.[49] Outside of the building contains a steel structure called the Helium Monument which has time capsules and designates Amarillo the "Helium Capital of the World."[2] Near the proximity of the Discovery Center, the Amarillo Botanical Gardens has gardens, indoor exhibits, and a library for visitation throughout the year. The Texas Pharmacy Museum claims to be the only Texas museum specialized in the research, collection, preservation, and exhibition of the history of pharmacy, is also located in the city's hospital district.[50]

Other notable museums in the area are the Kwahadi Kiva Indian Museum and the English Field Air & Space Museum. The Kwahadi Kiva Indian Museum features a collection of Native American artifacts and provides dance performances. The English Field Air & Space Museum is operated by the Texas Aviation Historical Society and features aircraft and space exhibits. The museum's facility used to be city's main airport terminal.[51]

Local media

One of the many Dynamite Museum mock traffic signs that scattered across the city.The major local newspaper is the Amarillo Globe-News, owned by Morris Communications, was a combination of three newspapers: Amarillo Daily News, Amarillo Globe, and Amarillo Times. Other publications include a local monthly magazine dealing with city and regional issues in the Amarillo area called, Accent West. The American Quarter Horse Association publishes two monthly publications, The American Quarter Horse Journal and The American Quarter Horse Racing Journal.

Amarillo's major network television affiliates are KACV-TV 2 (PBS), KAMR 4 (NBC), KVII 7 (ABC), KFDA 10 (CBS), KCIT 14 (FOX), KCPN 33 (MyNet), and KTMO 36 (Telemundo). In the 2005-2006 television season, Amarillo is the 131st largest television market in the United States designated by Nielsen Media Research.[52]

Amarillo is the 195th largest United States radio market in autumn 2005 designated by the radio audience research company, Arbitron. The top 5 rated commercial radio stations in autumn 2005 according to Arbitron are classic hits station KXGL-FM 100.9; hip hop station KQIZ-FM 93.1; country station KGNC-FM 97.9; news and talk station KGNC-AM 710; and KMXJ-FM 94.1, an adult contemporary station.[53] The regional public radio network, High Plains Public Radio, operates KJJP-FM 105.7. Other notable radio stations around the area include the college stations KACV-FM 89.9 (Amarillo College) and KWTS-FM 91.1 (West Texas A&M University) in nearby Canyon.

Outside media attention
The city gained national media attention in 1998 when television talk show host Oprah Winfrey was unsuccessfully sued by local cattlemen for comments made on her show connecting American beef to mad cow disease, costing them and their industry millions of dollars.[54] In order to attend the trial in Amarillo, she temporarily relocated her show to the Amarillo Little Theatre for nearly a year. During the trial, Winfrey hired Dallas-based jury consultant, Phil McGraw, to aid her attorneys on selecting and analyzing the members of the jury.[55] McGraw would later become a regular guest on Winfrey's television show and started his own talk show, Dr. Phil, in 2002.

Other notable trials in Amarillo include the Fort Worth-area murder case of T. Cullen Davis, which involved one of the richest men in the United States, his former wife, and her daughter and boyfriend. The trial was moved from Fort Worth to Amarillo on a change of venue.[56] The murder of Brian Deneke also brought attention outside of the Texas Panhandle mainly due to the crime revolved around a conflict between two different cultures. The small town of Tulia, Texas, approximately 47 miles (76 km) south from Amarillo, was the scene of a controversial drug sting in 1999. A federal lawsuit directed at the officials responsible for the sting operation was held in Amarillo. In the final settlement, the City of Amarillo agreed to pay $5 million in damages to the former Tulia defendants; disband the Panhandle Regional Narcotics Task Force that it set up to oversee the sting operation; and require early retirement for two Amarillo Police Department officers who were responsible for supervising the sting's sole undercover agent.[57][58]

The American Quarter Horse Association and Center City of Amarillo sponsors an on-going public art project that consist of decorated horse statues located in front of several Amarillo businesses.Amarillo has been mentioned in popular music such as George Strait's "Amarillo By Morning", Nat King Cole's "(Get Your Kicks) on Route 66", Bob Dylan's "Brownsville Girl" (Amarillo was referred to as the "land of the living dead"), Rob Zombie's "Two Lane Blacktop", and the song "(Is This the Way to) Amarillo?" written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, recorded famously by Yorkshireman Tony Christie and Sedaka, and revived by Peter Kay through performances in the comedy series Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights and in a charity performance for Comic Relief. Christie's version, which only managed to reach 18th place when originally released in 1971, made it to the number 1 spot in the UK Singles Chart in 2005 for 7 weeks.[59][60]

The Amarillo Film Commission is a division of the Amarillo Convention and Visitor Council that was created to provide film crews with locations and other assistance when filming in Amarillo.[61] Amarillo was the setting for motion pictures such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Plutonium Circus, the 1995 South by Southwest Film Festival winner for best documentary feature.

The af2 indoor American football team Amarillo Dusters and the CHL hockey team Amarillo Gorillas both play in the Amarillo Civic Center. Amarillo's minor league baseball team, Amarillo Dillas of the United League Baseball, plays its home games in the Potter County Memorial Stadium. Before the founding of the Dillas, the city was the home of the AA Amarillo Gold Sox.[62] Amarillo had a minor league in-door soccer team called the Amarillo Challengers that competed in the SISL and later the USISL.[63]

West Texas A&M University features a full slate of NCAA Division II teams; however, Amarillo College is one of the few community colleges in Texas without an athletic program. From 1968 to 1996, Amarillo hosted the annual National Women's Invitational Tournament, a postseason women's college basketball tournament.[64] During high school American football season, the Amarillo Independent School District schools' home games are in Dick Bivins Stadium which had a $5.7 million renovation in 2005.[65] Randall High School (part of the adjacent Canyon Independent School District) plays its home games in Kimbrough Memorial Stadium in Canyon. River Road and Highland Park High Schools, also play football, as well as other sports.


Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport is located on the east side of Amarillo, north of Interstate 40. A portion of the former Amarillo Air Force Base was converted to civilian use and became part of the airport.[66] The airport was named after Amarillo native Rick Husband, a NASA space shuttle astronaut and the commander of STS-107 (Columbia) who died in 2003 while returning from a mission in space. The airport is served by several major air carriers with non-stop service to Dallas, Houston, Albuquerque, Clovis, Denver, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.

Several streets around Amarillo's downtown area are still paved in bricks.Local transit services in the city have been available since 1925 and have been provided through the City of Amarillo's Amarillo City Transit (ACT) department since 1966; prior to that time the system was privately owned. ACT operates bus services that include fixed route transit and demand response paratransit which are designed for people with disabilities. The ACT transports approximately 350,000 passengers per year on the fixed route and 30,000 paratransit passengers, but it is a declining ridership. ACT has no plans to scale back any of their transit routes or services.[26]

Amarillo has no passenger rail service but remains an important part of the rail freight system. The BNSF Railway complex in Amarillo continues to serve a heavy daily traffic load, approximately 100-110 trains per day.[67] The Union Pacific Railroad also sends substantial shipments to or through Amarillo. In addition to intermodal and general goods, a big portion of rail shipments involve grains and coal.

The streets in Amarillo's downtown area conform to a grid pattern. The city's original street layout was set up by William H. Bush, beginning at the west end of the town moving to the east. Bush named the north to south streets for past United States presidents, in chronological order except for John Quincy Adams because the surname was taken with the second president, John Adams.[68] (The last president so honored was Grover Cleveland; though the city has expanded eastward the pattern was not continued.)

In 1910, the Amarillo voters approved to pay for street paving and the materials used to pave the streets were bricks.[69] As of 2003, the city still has 16.2 mi (26.1 km) of brick streets in some parts of the downtown area. The city spent $200,000 in 2002 to restore one block of brick street on Ninth Avenue between Polk and Tyler streets.[70]

Less than one mile of intrastate interstate highway I-27 is located in Potter County. The highway terminates at the city's main west-east highway I-40 near the Potter-Randall County line. The roadway continues northward into downtown Amarillo via U.S. 60, 87, and 287, a series of four one-way streets. North of downtown the highway becomes U.S. 87 and continues northward to Dumas, Texas.[30]

Medical centers and hospitals

The Harrington Regional Medical Center has two of the city's major hospitals.Amarillo is home to medical facilities including Baptist St. Anthony’s and Northwest Texas Hospitals, the Don & Sybil Harrington Cancer Center, Bivins Memorial Nursing Home, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and Texas Tech School of Pharmacy. All are located in the Harrington Regional Medical Center, the first specifically designated city hospital district in Texas.[71]

Baptist St. Anthony's, known locally as BSA, had some of its services listed on the U.S. News & World Report's "Top 50 Hospitals" from 2002 to 2005.[72] BSA was a result of a merger between the Texas Panhandle's first hospital, St Anthony's, with High Plains Baptist Hospital in 1996.[73] The BSA Hospice & Life Enrichment Center provides important services to the Amarillo area. The BSA facility, opened in 1985, was the first free-standing hospice west of the Mississippi River that was built and opened without debt.[74]

The Thomas E. Creek Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center is located east of Harrington Regional Medical Center. The facility opened in 1940 and was renamed in 2005, honoring the 18-year old Amarillo Marine who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.[75] Construction began in 2006 for a new Texas State Veterans Home in northwest Amarillo. The United States government, through the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, provided the funding to build the facility, while the Texas government will run it after construction is completed.[76] The home is scheduled to open in 2007.

Drinking water is provided by the City of Amarillo and its Utilities Division. Amarillo's water supply comes from Lake Meredith and the Ogallala Aquifer. The city's drinking water is a blend of both sources. Lake Meredith is located northeast of Amarillo contains at least 114 billion gallons (431 million m³) of water. The city's daily water production averages between 40-50 million gallons (151,000-189,000 m³).[77]

Collection and disposal of city's trash or garbage are the responsibility of City of Amarillo's Solid Waste Collection and Solid Waste Disposal Departments. Amarillo's non-hazardous solid waste are collected and disposed it through burial in the city's landfill. The City of Amarillo also operates recycling collection centers located one near the downtown area and at 4 fire stations in the city.[78] Other utilities are primarily provided by private organizations. Natural gas is distributed by Atmos Energy. Electric power service is distributed by Xcel Energy. Wired telephone service provider is primarily by AT&T. Cable television is provided by Suddenlink Communications.

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^ Hammond, Clara T., comp. Amarillo (1974). pg. 6. George Autry, Printer, Amarillo, Texas.
^ Liz Everett. "History Makers of the High Plains: H.B. Sanborn", Amarillo Globe-News, May 19, 2000.
^ Greg Livadas. "State of Ballooning: Texas", Balloon Life Magazine, October 1999.
^ Helium Production from the Handbook of Texas Online.
^ National Research Council U.S. (2000). The Impact of Selling the Federal Helium Reserve. National Academy Press, 20. ISBN 0-309-07038-4.
^ Kevin Welch. "Crossroads of America", Amarillo Globe-News, July 23, 2006.
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^ Rathjen, Fredrick W. The Texas Panhandle Frontier (1973). pg. 11. The University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-78007-9.
^ Canadian River from the Handbook of Texas Online.
^ Panhandle field from the Handbook of Texas Online.
^ Joe Chapman. "Land Grab", Amarillo Globe-News, February 27, 2005.
^ Chris Moon. "Downtown Dilemma: How did it happen?", Amarillo Globe-News, September 15, 2003.
^ "City's center becomes the center of attention", Amarillo Globe-News, March 26, 2006.
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^ Amarillo National Bank. Bank History (HTML). Retrieved on 2006-08-07.
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^ Hammond, pg. 31.
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^ a b United States Department of Transportation. Economic Development History of Interstate 27 in Texas. Retrieved on 2006-05-04.
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^ Jennifer S. Cowley. "Public Art in Private Places", Texas A&M University's Real Estate Center, October 2001.
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^ West Texas A&M University's Cornette Library. Harrington Library Consortium. Retrieved on 2006-06-19.
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^ Amarillo College from the Handbook of Texas Online.
^ Don Harrington Discovery Center. Exhibits. Retrieved on 2006-02-14.
^ Texas Tech Health Science Center at Amarillo. Texas Pharmacy Museum. Retrieved on 2006-04-05.
^ Joe Chapman. "Board asks for English Field lease extension", Amarillo Globe-News, June 29, 2004.
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^ Daniel Frankel. "Ranchers Say Oprah Created Lynch Mob Mentality", E! News, January 21, 1998.
^ Mark Donald. "Analyze this", Dallas Observer, April 13, 2000.
^ Court TV's Crime Library. T. Cullen Davis: The Best Justice Money Can Buy. Retrieved on 2006-05-25.
^ Court TV's Crime Library. The Tulia Sting. Retrieved on 2006-07-30.
^ NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Bad Times In Tulia, TX. Retrieved on 2006-07-30.
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^ "Tony Christie tops singles chart", BBC News, March 20, 2005.
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^ Debra A. Parker. "Brick streets helped build", Amarillo Globe-News, May 17, 2001.
^ Joe Chapman. "Touchstones of history", Amarillo Globe-News, August 10, 2003.
^ Harrington Regional Medical Center from the Handbook of Texas Online.
^ George Schwarz. "BSA facilities receive honors", Amarillo Globe-News, July 8, 2005.
^ Basil Hernandez. "Harrington Cancer Center joining BSA", Amarillo Globe-News, March 23, 2006.
^ Marlene Feduris. "Officials unveil book about city's hospice care", Amarillo Globe-News, September 18, 2002.
^ Library of Congress - Congressional Records. Thomas E. Creek Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center -- (House of Representatives - September 13, 2004). Retrieved on 2006-04-17.
^ Greg Cunningham. "Veterans home on its way", Amarillo Globe-News, March 11, 2005.
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