I have changed planes in Kansas City several times. But uniquely, KC sits, or rather is plopped on the border of Missouri and Kansas. The airport resides in Missouri, so technically, I have not been to the adopted home state of President Dwight Eisenhower. KC is also the largest city in the state, surprisingly larger than St. Louis at the other end of the state. The metro area is 2.1 million people, and sits at the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers. The area hosted several Civil War battles as well.
The city itself is known for its contributions to jazz and blues, and most remarkably, a contribution to cuisine in the form of Kansas City barbecue. Forbes magazine actually named the city as one of America’s best downtowns, for its rich culture, upscale shopping, and local cuisine, mostly barbecue. Could KC be a better place than St. Louis?
The city is nicknamed the City of Fountains, and with over 200 fountains, is second only to Rome! In fact, the fountains at Kaufman Stadium, home of the Royals MLB team, are the largest privately funded fountains in the world. The city also has more boulevards than any city in the world, except for Paris. Rightly so, it has earned the nickname, “Paris of the Plains.”
Skipping, or rather fast forwarding to now, KC is host to the American Jazz Museum, which I look forward to visiting. And surprisingly, the area is home to about 250,000 people of irish descent. The most famous steakhouse in America, the Golden Ox, is located in the Kansas City Live Stock Exchange. But there are more than 90 barbecue restaurants in KC, with the city hosting the world’s largest barbecue contest each fall.
Besides the Royals baseball team, the city is also home to the Alex Smith led, and undefeated Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL. The demographics of the city are 59% white, 29% Black, 10% Latino, and only 2.5% Asian. But KC has the second largest Sudanese population in the U.S. KC is also home to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the National World War I Museum, and the aforementioned American Jazz Museum.
Some notables Kansans, besides Ike are: Ed Asner, Count Basie, rapper Eminem, Walt Disney, Joan Crawford, William Least Heat-Moon, Kate Spade (wow), golfer Tom Watson, President Harry Truman, Satchel Paige, Charlie Parker, Lamar Hunt, Robert Altman, former Senator Robert Dole, George Washington Carver, Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith, Jim Lehrer, John Cameron Swayze, Gayle Sayers, Barry Sanders, Vivian Vance, Buster Keaton, Kirstie Alley, and Annette Bening. And do not forget Dorothy and Toto!
Former President Dwight Eisenhower, though born in Texas, always considered himself a Kansan, and is buried in Abilene, KS. Many people forget he was the first term limited President as a result of the 22nd Amendment. Few remember he played football at the U.S. Military Academy (West Point), and once tackled the great Jim Thorpe.
This from Yahoo travel:
Kansas City, 250 miles due west of St Louis, straddles the state line between Kansas and Missouri. Virtually all its main points of interest are on the Missouri side, where the fountains, boulevards, Art Deco and Mediterranean-style buildings, and the encouraging revitalization of downtown, are welcome features in a Midwestern city.
Kansas City was a convenient staging post for 1830s wagon trains heading west. Its consequent prosperity – and rough-and-tumble “sin city” image – was brought to an abrupt end by the Civil War. However, its fortunes revived in the 1870s, when the railroads brought the boom in meatpacking that was responsible for the development of the huge stockyards, which finally closed down in 1992.
Thanks to political boss Tom Pendergast, an outrageous figure with whom the city had a love-hate relationship, Kansas City’s many jazz clubs continued to sell alcohol during Prohibition. As in Chicago and New Orleans, speakeasies, brothels, and gambling dens went hand in hand with superlative jazz – and, to a lesser extent, blues – spawning the careers of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and, in the Fifties, Charlie Parker. KC’s resurgent jazz scene, fine restaurants, professional football and baseball teams, and theme parks help make it a popular short-break destination.
Interestingly, Walter Chrysler, founder of Chrysler Corporation, and current Ford CEO Alan Mulaly are both Kansans. There is a fairly large Ford plant here in the KC area. Can you imagine Mulaly becoming CEO of Microsoft and asking for a bailout? But for me, some KC “cue”, the Jazz museum, and a short jaunt across the border to Kansas. News flash, I hear fried chicken is also “king” here, along with KC Cue. And then there is but one state left to visit!