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Downtown Wichita Falls was the city's main shopping area for many years, but lost ground to the creation of new shopping centers throughout the city beginning with Parker Square in 1953 and other similar developments during the 1960s and 1970s, culminating with the opening of Sikes Senter Mall in 1974.Wichita Falls was once home to offices of several oil companies and related industries, along with oil refineries operated by the Continental Oil Company (now Conoco Phillips) until 1952 and Panhandle Oil Company (later American Petrofina) until 1965.During a three-week period in May 2015, 17 inches of rain filled the city's water-source lakes, Arrowhead and Kickapoo, ending the drought.
Both firms continued to use a portion of their former refineries as gasoline/oil terminal facilities for many years.
A devastating tornado hit the north and northwest portions of Wichita Falls along with Sheppard Air Force Base during the afternoon of April 3, 1964, leaving seven dead and more than 100 injured, and causing roughly $15 million in property damage with about 225 homes destroyed and another 250 damaged.
The drought began in 2011, when the city experienced 100 days of 100 °F weather and a significant decline in annual rainfall. In 2011, the city received only 13 in; 2012 had 19.75 in, and in 2013 23 in.
The city implemented significant conservation efforts and constructed a direct potable reuse system (DPR) that took treated wastewater, which normally emptied into the Wichita River, and sent it to the water treatment plant, where it was blended with raw lake water and treated a total of five times through various cleaning processes, all approved and monitored by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 14.0% of the population.