World Facts Index > United States > Kansas City
Kansas City is nothing like the Cow-town persona with which many equate it. From its sprawling suburbs to its big-city skyline, there is plenty for visitors to see and do while experiencing the hospitality and charm Kansas City has to offer.
One of the first glimpses of Kansas City most visitors catch is of the booming Northland, so named because of its location. Kansas City International, the city's largest airport, is situated here, where rolling hills and farmland are just minutes away. Several hotels, including the Kansas City Airport Hilton (The) and Embassy Suites Hotel
KCI Airport, are within walking distance of the airport and offer easy access to I-435. A booming economy has made the Northland a construction Mecca, with new housing additions and businesses added regularly. Visitors staying close to the airport don't have to venture far for fun; the area is packed with shopping centers, strip malls and
restaurants, including Paradise Grill, Jazz, Chappell's Restaurant & Sports Museum, Rembrandt's, Smokehouse Barbecue North and Stroud's Restaurant. History abounds in surrounding small towns like St. Joseph, where the Pony Express began.
The downtown Kansas City skyline, with Bartle Hall's futuristic, yet beckoning, rooftop, can be seen from most surrounding suburbs. Its tall buildings, casting nighttime reflections along the nearby Missouri River, draw travelers to this central location. The recent renovation of Union Station and the River Market, the addition of Science
City and the on-going popularity of Crown Center have energized the area. Fine dining establishments, such as the American Restaurant, The, the Hereford House Restaurant and Lidia's Kansas City, offer exquisite, flavorful dishes for even the most finicky patron. A number of magnificent, historic hotels, including the Westin Crown Center
Hotel and the Hotel Savoy, make downtown a magnet for business and leisure travelers. Sightseers wishing to step back in time can do so at the 18th and Vine District, the Jazz Museum, the Black Archives and the Toy & Miniature Museum.
Charming and classy, yet avante garde, describe the popular Country Club Plaza (The) and Westport areas. These contemporary districts play host to those seeking entertainment at its finest. The Plaza draws thousands of visitors annually with its high-class shopping district and varied dining options, like Cafe Allegro, Californos, Fedora
Cafe & Bar and Japengo. Luxurious hotels and historic bed and breakfasts are within walking distance, with many offering magnificent views of the action. During the holiday season, the Plaza is aglow with thousands of lights, bathing it in twinkling white for the sea of festive shoppers who flock there. Nearby Westport, a popular
destination for locals and visitors alike, is best known for its contemporary clubs and restaurants. Both districts attract Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers, so no one should feel out of place. Since Westport and the Plaza are within walking distance of each other, visitors can enjoy both districts in one sweep.
Johnson County/Kansas City, Kansas
Like its Missouri neighbor, Kansas City, Kansas (known as KCK) is on the move. The International Speedway's new NASCAR racetrack is expected to draw thousands to the area within the next few years. The Woodlands Racetrack, as well as various shopping and dining establishments attract visitors from the Metro and surrounding areas, as well.
Johnson County, KCK's southern neighbor, is also alive with the sights and sounds of growth, with new businesses and residential neighborhoods sprouting up everywhere. The area has a reputation for being a very classy place to live or visit. Public venues, like Town Center and Oak Mark shopping malls, are always bustling with action. Like
downtown, Johnson County is a hub for business. The expansive Corporate Woods and other new office complexes add to the economic success of the area. There are plenty of accommodations, including the Doubletree Hotel Kansas City-Corporate Woods and the Overland Park Marriott, as well as a variety of charming smaller hotels. Eating
establishments and entertainment options are easy to come by with dinner theaters, like the New Theatre Restaurant, and trendy hot spots, including Dick Clark's American Bandstand Grill, located here.
Raiders and Broncos fans better beware when they venture into the East Metro because within this district lies Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs Football Team. If there is one attribute that riles Kansas Citians most, it is their beloved Chiefs. Most stadiums in the NFL pale in comparison to Arrowhead, where excitement and
explosive fan support bring the stadium to life when the Chiefs are in town. For baseball fans there's Kauffman Stadium, home to the Kansas City Royals. For those wishing to forego sports, opting instead for a touch of history, Independence is worth a stop. This historic town is the birthplace of former President Harry S. Truman and is
home to the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum and a host of other historic points of interest, including the Vale Mansion, Bingham-Waggoner Estate and the Mormon Visitors Center. This area offers great places to stay, including the Adam's Mark Kansas City , the Holiday Inn Sports Complex and the western-themed Benjamin Hotel &
Suites. Stephenson's Old Apple Farm Restaurant and LC's Barbecue provide a taste of Kansas City dining for those who want a down-home dining experience.
South Kansas City
Like its Northland counterpart, the southern edge of Kansas City is experiencing growth in both the business and residential sectors. Bed and breakfasts, such as the Brookside House, and extended-stay motels, like the Windsong Corporate Apartments, make it easier for travelers to stay in the immediate area without having to commute from
other areas of town. Locals and travelers alike enjoy dining at restaurants like the 75th Street Brewery, the Guadalajara Café and the locally renowned EBT Restaurant. For travelers searching for entertainment, Swope Park provides fun for all ages. The Kansas City Zoological Park, complete with the Sprint IMAX Theatre, makes an enjoyable
day trip no matter what the season. For those who prefer more artistic entertainment, the open-air Starlight Theatre offers an array of theatrical productions during the warm weather months.
History of Kansas City
The history of Kansas City is much like an old Western movie; it's a story of cowboys and Indians, westward expansion and the rugged men and women who traveled to and through the area searching for a new beginning. Before the first explorers came upon this beautiful land, it was inhabited by several Native American tribes, including the
Omaha, Iowa, Kansa, Missouri and Osage. French explorers Louis Jolet and Father Jacques Marquette were the first to discover the mouth of the Missouri River while traveling down the Mississippi in 1673. This discovery led to further exploration by Europeans throughout the 1700s. Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the legendary
party lead by Merriwether Lewis and William Clark explored the Missouri River area and points west from 1804-1806. As exploration continued, trade relations were instigated with the Native American people, increasing familiarity with the land and its inhabitants.
In 1812, the U.S. Congress established the Missouri Territory and opened the land to settlement. Missouri was granted statehood eight years later, becoming the 24th state in the Union. As pioneers, trappers, settlers and others flocked to the areas along the Missouri River, Frenchman Francois Chouteau established the American Fur
Company trading post on the waterfront at what is now the river's edge of downtown Kansas City. This helped to establish trade relationships with the Native American tribes until President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Bill in 1830. This bill opened the entire state to white settlers, ultimately forcing the Native Americans to
relocate to other areas of the Midwest.
While tremendous growth was occurring in Missouri, Santa Fe was also becoming a hot settlement spot. The Santa Fe Trail was established in Independence, which brought even more commercial activity to the area. With the rush to western territories under way, the location of what would become Kansas City was an ideal one. In 1834, John
Campbell purchased a tract of land located just four miles from the river on the Kansas/Missouri state line and divided it into settlement plots. Westport, as Campbell named it, was established as a thriving commercial trading post by John Calvin McCoy, one of its new inhabitants. McCoy promoted Westport to settlers bound for California,
Oregon and Santa Fe as the last stop for supplies before heading west, resulting in a boom for the economy of the little town. Since Westport was located four miles inland, McCoy thought the best way to transport supplies was to establish a dock on the river. He found a rocky landing spot perfect for docking shipping boats, cut a road
from the dock to Westport and the riverside town of Kansas City was born. Visitors can still visit the spot where the historic dock once stood...it's located where Main Street meets the river.
Missouri, being a slave state, experienced its share of battles during the Civil War. One significant event was the Battle of Westport, a bloody exchange that resulted in more than 1,000 deaths on each side. It was a brutal loss that ended all Confederate hopes of retaining slavery in the state. Following the war, the Missouri-Pacific
Railroad was established in Kansas City, resulting in the construction of the Hannibal Bridge in 1869. This marked the beginning of a period of major economic growth; livestock trade boomed, packing houses sprung up throughout the area, new businesses were established and residential building was at an all time high.
In 1903, tragedy stuck the city when torrential rains caused the Missouri River to flood, leaving 20,000 citizens homeless and many businesses crippled. The feisty Kansas City spirit came alive, with people from all areas of town and walks of life pitching in to rebuild and re-establish the downtown area as a national business,
cultural and residential leader.
1922 saw the opening of Country Club Plaza, an area that continues to be a major tourist attraction today. The early 1930s established Kansas City as a hub of music and nightlife, when more than 50 all-night music and dance clubs were built along 12th Street. These clubs offered bootleg whiskey and a live music style that would come to
be known as Kansas City Jazz.
Kansas City continued its growth as a major business and residential city throughout the '30s and '40s, but the eyes of the world focused more keenly on the area when local boy, Harry S. Truman became the 33rd President of the United States in a heart-stopping upset in 1945.
The '50s saw another major flood and the extinction of Kansas City's streetcars when construction of US Highway 50 was begun. Sports fans see the 1960s as a major turn around for the city. In 1963, the Dallas Texans professional football team was moved to town and renamed the Kansas City Chiefs, and in 1969, the Kansas City Royals
baseball club was established as an expansion team. Both teams went on to receive top honors: the Chiefs won the Super Bowl in 1970, and the Royals won the World Series Championship in 1985.
Kansas City continues to be a hub of activity and growth. With a vibrant downtown district, bustling shopping and business communities and renewed residential growth, an exciting future will take Kansas City and her residents firmly into the 21st Century and beyond.
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