25 Things You Should Know About Kansas City
There's more to the City of Fountains than just barbecue. (Although the barbecue is legendary.) Study up before your next visit to the midwestern metropolis of 467,000.
Kansas City spans two states: Missouri and Kansas. The international airport, baseball stadium and football stadium are all on the Missouri side. The professional soccer team and the NASCAR race track are found on the Kansas side.
2. And you can be in both states at the same time if you stand on State Line Road, which runs north-south along the border of Missouri and Kansas.
3. However, the two states have not always been on friendly terms. During the Civil War, violence erupted across Kansas between abolitionists and fighters from slave state Missouri over whether or not Kansas would allow slavery. The state during this time became known as “Bleeding Kansas.”
Much of the city’s early economy was based on the Kansas City Stock Yards, which traded cattle, hogs, sheep, horses and mules.
Speaking of cows, Kansas City is home to some great barbecue. In 1908, Henry Perry started his stand of smoked meats that catered to workers in the Garment District. He shared his secrets with Charlie Bryant, whose brother, Arthur, took over the eponymous restaurant after Charlie’s death.
8. The city is home to 200 fountains and claims that only Rome has more. Early architects of the city are said to have wanted to create an urban landscape with “more boulevards than Paris, more fountains than Rome.”
Notorious outlaw of the late 1800s Jesse James was born north of Kansas City and began his criminal career robbing banks, stagecoaches, and trains in the area. James and his gang once raided the Kansas City Fairgrounds.
10. In the early 20th century, the city was controlled by political boss Tom Pendergast who ran the local Democratic Party. Pendergast directed the flow of illegal alcohol during Prohibition and rigged elections to keep his friends in power, including hand-picking Harry S. Truman as the next U.S. senator from Missouri.
11. Jazz lives at 18th and Vine. The area around the intersection became popular during the 1920s for its music and nightlife.
Speaking of great jazz, Charlie Parker was born in Kansas City in 1920.
13. The area is also home to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, a privately-funded museum filled with memorabilia and exhibits about African-American baseball in the U.S. The roster of the Kansas City Monarchs, the Negro league's team in the city, boasted legendary players such as Satchel Paige, Buck O’Neil, and Jackie Robinson.
14. If you’re looking to go shopping in Kansas City, the place to visit is the Country Club Plaza. The fifteen-block area is filled with shops, restaurants, and a movie theater. During the Christmas season, the buildings are lined with Christmas lights that turn on at sundown every evening.
15. Walt Disney’s family moved to Kansas City when he was nine years old. While in elementary school, Disney took drawing classes on the weekend at the Kansas City Art Institute.
16. Union Station in Kansas City opened in 1914, and during WWII, an estimated one million travelers passed through the station. It was closed in the 1980s, but was renovated and reopened in 1999.
Across from Union Station sits the Liberty Memorial, home to the only World War I museum in the United States.
18. Boulevard Brewery on Southwest Boulevard is the largest specialty brewer in the Midwest.
19. As part of an effort to revitalize the downtown area, the Power and Light District, a shopping and entertainment neighborhood, was opened in 2008. Eight blocks of the area are exempt from the city’s open container laws.
21. In 1998, Sprint built a massive 200-acre headquarters campus in Overland Park, Kan. At the time, it was the largest corporate headquarters in the Midwest.
22. In 2011, it was announced that Kansas City would be the first city in the country to receive Google Fiber, the company’s broadband internet service that boasts speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.
23. Sporting KC, the area’s professional soccer team, was one of the founding members of the MLS (under the name the Kansas City Wiz). The team has won the MLS Cup twice.
24. The Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL team, has only won the Super Bowl once, but that didn’t keep fans of the team from breaking the world record for loudest NFL stadium by creating 142.2 decibels of noise at a game in September 2014.
25. The number one rival of the Kansas City Royals baseball team is the cross-state St. Louis Cardinals. The team not only made the World Series finals for the first time in 29 years in 2014, but singer Lorde is said to have been inspired to write her single “Royals” after seeing a photo of the team’s former third baseman George Brett.