Junction City is one of the places designated by the government for the establishment of a postal savings bank. The city has a library and library building of which any place of ten times its size might be proud. It was founded by a legacy left by George Smith, and in 1911 had nearly 8,000 volumes. The Ladies' Reading club and the high school also have libraries.
This is one of the historic cities in the state. It is on the site of the Kaw Indian village which was occupied by that tribe as late as 1856, when they died in great numbers from cholera. The founders of the town, J. R. McClure, Robert Wilson, F. N. Blake, John T. Price and P. Z. Taylor organized themselves into a company in 1857 and selected the site, but the survey was not made until the spring of 1858. The first building was erected in May of that year and inside of a few months a village had grown up. The first city officers were elected in July, 1859, and were as follows: Mayor, R. C. Whitney; councilmen, Samuel Orr, Edward Cobb and W. H. Bartlett; clerk, V. K. Speer. On Oct. 6 of the same year the United States Land office was moved from Ogden to Junction City and remained here until 1871, when it was taken to Salina. In June, 1860, Junction City was made the county seat of Geary county. As an insight into the methods of conducting elections in those days it might be mentioned that the number of votes cast by Junction City was 224, while the total population of the town was but 217.
The first brick building in the city was completed early in 1862, and the first school district was organized in the same year. The building of the railroad in 1866 gave a new impetus to the town, many new buildings were erected and the population increased rapidly. In Feb., 1867, the railroad bridge across the Republican was carried away by high water. During that year a $17,500 bridge was built by the county across the Smoky Hill river and one by the state across the Republican. The city election of 1869 was one of the most interesting events in its history.
The opposing factions did not limit themselves to verbal arguments. The matter was finally settled in the courts. A fire destroyed a number of the business buildings in 1871. The next year a $10,000 school house was erected. In addition to the grasshopper disaster in 1874, the city was visited by a second fire which destroyed ten of the best buildings. In 1870 the population was 3,100, but in 1875 there had been a decrease of several hundred caused by the removal of the shops of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas R. R. from this point to Denison, Tex., and by the removal of the division end of the Union Pacific from Junction City to Wamego.
In 1880 the population was 2,977. A city hall, which was to cost $28,000, was begun that year. The outlay of so large an amount on the building gave rise to a bitter feeling on the part of the more economical people of the community and they attempted to stop work on the structure by an injunction suit but were unsuccessful. An accident which destroyed a part of the building brought the total cost to $30,000 at the time of completion. The population of the city in 1890 was 4,502, and in 1900 it was 4,695.
Junction City is located at 39°1'39N, 96°50'25W (39.027519, -96.840351). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.7 km² (7.6 mi²). 19.6 km² (7.6 mi²) of it is land and 0.1 km² (0.04 mi²) of it (0.53%) is water.
Over the course of a year, temperatures range from an average low of about 15°F in January to an average high of 90°F in July. The maximum temperature reaches 90°F an average of 47 days per year and reaches 100°F an average of 7 days per year. The minimum temperature falls below the freezing point (32°F) an average of 126 days per year. Typically the first fall freeze occurs during the month of October, and the last spring freeze occurs during the month of April.
The area receives over 32 inches of precipitation during an average year with the largest share being received during May, June, and July—with a combined 29 days of measurable precipitation. During a typical year the total amount of precipitation may be anywhere from 23 to 43 inches. There are on average 86 days of measurable precipitation per year. Winter snowfall averages less than 14 inches, but the median is just over 7 inches. Measurable snowfall occurs an average of 6 days per year with at least an inch of snow being received on four of those days. Snow depth of at least an inch occurs an average of 17 days per year.
As of the census of 2000, there were 18,886 people, 7,492 households, and 5,079 families residing in the city. The population density was 965.8/km² (2,500.8/mi²). There were 8,740 housing units at an average density of 447.0/km² (1,157.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 58.38% White, 26.69% African American, 0.82% Native American, 3.83% Asian, 0.39% Pacific Islander, 4.01% from other races, and 5.88% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.31% of the population.
Of the 3.83% Asian, 1.84% are of Korean descent. This is significantly higher than the surrounding area.
There were 7,492 households out of which 35.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.8% were married couples living together, 14.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.2% were non-families. 26.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.00.
In the city the population was spread out with 28.2% under the age of 18, 13.4% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 18.5% from 45 to 64, and 11.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,084, and the median income for a family was $35,093. Males had a median income of $25,695 versus $20,846 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,581. About 11.2% of families and 14.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.4% of those under age 18 and 12.2% of those age 65 or over.