Kansas City, Missouri

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Kansas City, Missouri
City flag City seal
City nickname: "City of Fountains" or "Heart of the Nation"

Location in the state of Missouri
County Jackson, Clay, Platte, Cass
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

823.7 km² (318.0 mi²)
812.1 km² (313.5 mi²)
11.6 km² (4.5 mi²) 1.41%
 - Total (2004)
 - Metropolitan
 - Density

539.5/km² (1,397.4/mi²)
Time zone Central: UTC–6
Location 39° 06′ 00″ N, 94° 35′ 15″ W
Mayor Kay Waldo Barnes
City website

Kansas City is a city covering parts of Jackson, Clay, and Platte counties in Missouri. Although it is the largest city in Jackson County, the suburb of Independence is the county seat. Situated at the junction of the Missouri and Kansas rivers, it lies along the boundary between Missouri and Kansas, and is directly opposite Kansas City, Kansas.

Often abbreviated KCMO, Kansas City is the center of the Kansas City metropolitan area, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri. As of the 2000 census, the city had a population of 441,545, making it the largest city in Missouri. Combined with Kansas City, Kansas, the population is 588,411, but the entire urban area (in both states) is approximately 2 million.

The current mayor of Kansas City, Missouri is Kay Barnes, the city's first female mayor. Elected in March 1999 and again in March 2003, her second of two terms will expire in April 2007.



Significant non-native settlement of the area dates to 1831, when members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("LDS Church"; see also Mormon) coming from Kirtland, Ohio and New York State purchased about 2,000 acres (8 km²) of land in the Paseo and Troost Lake areas. Conflict between the LDS members & southern Missourians led to the expulsion of the Mormons from Jackson County in 1833, although there is still a notable presence of LDS members in the KC area.

About this time a dock was established on the Missouri River to land supplies for Westport Landing (now Westport). The land surrounding the dock was bought by "Town Company" in 1838. The area outside of Westport Landing was renamed the Town of Kansas, after the local Kanza Indians, in 1839. The town was incorporated by the state of Missouri as the City of Kansas on March 28, 1853. At the first municipal election in 1853 there were sixty-seven voters from a population of 2,500. In 1889, with a population of around 60,000, the city adopted a new charter and changed its name to Kansas City. In 1897, Kansas City annexed Westport, which now serves as an entertainment & shopping disctrict.

The City was connected to the telegraph system in 1858, to the railway in 1864 and the first aircraft landed at the Municipal Airport in 1927. In 1867, Kansas City beat nearby Leavenworth, Kansas (then over twice Kansas City's size) for a railroad bridge over the Missouri River. The Hannibal Bridge, designed by Octave Chanute, opened in 1869. With that, the city's population quadrupled in fifty years.

Due to its central location, Kansas City became and remains the second largest railroad hub in the United States, ahead of St. Louis and behind Chicago, Illinois. Union Station, built in 1914, it was the largest passenger terminal in the country. After deteriorating significantly in the second half of the 20th Century, the station was renovated in the late 1990s. It now houses a museum, theaters, shops, and restaurants, adjacent to an increasingly active arts district known as the "Crossroads".

Initially, the city's major industry was cattle. By the 1860s it had one of the largest cattle markets in America, earning the nickname "Cowtown." That industry peaked in the early 20th century. Kansas City's cattle stockyards in the city's West Bottoms neighborhood closed in 1984.

The Country Club Plaza shopping district and neighborhood, begun in 1922 by developer J.C.Nichols, is dominated by the 130-foot-tall bell tower designed after the original Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain, and decorated with countless more European fountains, sculptures and Spanish architecture. Although the Plaza once contained mostly hometown shops, today it contains almost exclusively hypermaterial national chain stores such as Tiffany's, Coach, Sharper Image and others; the Plaza also contains a great amount of pedestrian traffic and increasingly modern architecture.

Pendergast era

In 1880, James Pendergast, the oldest son of Irish immigrants, moved to Kansas City's West Bottoms. He worked at a local iron foundry until buying a bar with money he won from betting on a longshot horse at a local race track. From his new bar, Pendergast began networking with local leaders and soon built a powerful faction in the Jackson County Democratic Party.

Just prior to winning his first of nine terms on the city council in 1892, he summoned his youngest brother Tom from nearby St. Joseph. As Jim's health deteriorated, Tom began to utilize many of Jim's connections to lead the "Goat" faction after Jim's death in 1910. Tom succeeded Jim in the council too, but left after three terms.

In 1925, Kansas City voted in favor of establishing a city manager-based government with one city council of 12 members instead of two chambers of 32 members total, giving Tom an easier road to gaining majority control. By 1925, the Pendergast machine had established a majority, appointing a passive mayor and powerful city mananer Henry McElroy.

Pendergast's power grew during the Great Depression, creating a Ten-Year Plan bond plan aimed at putting unemployed Kansas Citians to work building civic structures that still stand, including City Hall, Municipal Auditorium, and the Jackson County Courthouse. These structures, sporting art deco architecture, were built with concrete supplied by Pendergast's Ready-Mixed Concrete company and other companies that provided kickbacks to Pendergast.

At its peak, the machine wielded considerable influence on state politics, handily electing Platte County judge Guy Brasfield Park governor of Missouri in 1932 when the Democratic candidate (Francis Wilson) died two weeks before the election. Also during this time, Kansas City also became a center for night life and music, with jazz by musicians such as Count Basie, Charlie Parker and blues (Kansas City blues) flourishing in areas such as 18th and Vine.

Violence and gangster activity proliferated during this time as well. On June 17, 1933, three gangsters attempted to free Frank Nash from FBI custody, but wound up killing him and four unarmed agents. The gangsters had spent the prior evening at the Hotel Monroe, adjacent to Pendergast's office, and had received assistance in eluding a bribed police force from Johnny Lazia, a major underworld figure with connections to Pendergast.

Pendergast's machine became synonymous with inflating election results by bringing in out-of-town hoodlums to vote for machine candidates repeatedly. The March 27, 1934 municipal elections (dramatized in Robert Altman's 1996 film Kansas City) resulted in nine deaths.

Tom Pendergast's power was brought down by health ailments and a determined effort by reform leaders, capped by Tom pleading guilty to tax evasion on May 24, 1939. Remnants of the machine lingered until the 1950s.

Harry S. Truman, former U.S. president, was county judge of Jackson County under the Pendergast regime, and was initially regarded in his early career as a corrupt politician because of this. However, most people came to regard him as having a great deal of integrity because of his subsequent actions in various political offices.

Downtown Redevelopment

The center of Kansas City is roughly contained inside the downtown loop (shaded in red).
The center of Kansas City is roughly contained inside the downtown loop (shaded in red).

After years of neglect and seas of parking lots, downtown Kansas City is currently undergoing a renaissance. Many residential properties have recently been or are currently under redevelopment. A planned entertainment district is being developed in the southern part of the downtown highway loop by the Cordish Company of Baltimore, Maryland. Adjacent to the entertainment district will be a new arena, dubbed the Sprint Center, set to open in 2007. The arena, to be designed by a consortium of local architects, hopes to lure an NBA or NHL franchise to the city. Los Angeles based Anschutz Entertainment Group has invested in the arena project and will run its daily operations.

In 2003 the Downtown population reached 15,100 people, up from 6,334 in 2000, aided by an ever-increasing real estate development converting vacant commercial buildings to loft style housing.

Downtown KC has an area of 2.9 square miles bounded by the Missouri River in the north, 31st street to the south, Bruce R. Watkins Dr. (US Hwy 71) to the east and I-35 to the west according to the Downtown Council.

West of I-35 exists the Upper Westside community & the West Bottoms (South of the Missouri river - host to various industrial establishments, art galleries, and Autumn Haunted Houses).

Related articles: Downtown Kansas City - Alphabet Loop


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 823.7 km² (318.0 mi²). 812.1 km² (313.5 mi²) of it is land and 11.6 km² (4.5 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.41% water.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 441,545 people, 183,981 households, and 107,444 families residing in the city. The population density is 543.7/km² (1,408.2/mi²). There are 202,334 housing units at an average density of 249.2/km² (645.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 60.68% White, 31.23% Black or African American, 1.85% Asian, 0.48% Native American, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 3.21% from other races, and 2.44% from two or more races. 6.93% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 183,981 households out of which 28.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.0% are married couples living together, 16.0% have a female householder with no husband present, and 41.6% are non-families. 34.1% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.35 and the average family size is 3.06.

In the city the population is spread out with 25.4% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 32.5% from 25 to 44, 20.6% from 45 to 64, and 11.7% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 93.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 89.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $37,198, and the median income for a family is $46,012. Males have a median income of $35,132 versus $27,548 for females. The per capita income for the city is $20,753. 14.3% of the population and 11.1% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 20.2% of those under the age of 18 and 10.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Parks and parkways

Kansas City is well-known for its spacious parkways and many parks. The parkway system winds its way through the city with broad, landscaped medians that include statuary and fountains. One of the best examples is Ward Parkway on the west side of the city, near the Kansas state line.

Swope Park is one of the nation's larger in-city parks, comprising over one thousand acres (4 km²). It includes a full-fledged zoo, two golf courses, a lake, an amphitheater, day-camp area, and numerous picnic grounds.

Kansas City has always had one of the nation's best urban forestry programs. At one time, almost all residential streets were planted with a solid canopy of American elms but Dutch elm disease devastated them. Most of the elms died and were replaced with a variety of other shade trees.


Union Station and downtown Kansas City
Union Station and downtown Kansas City

Kansas City ranks second in the world in number of fountains (160), exceeded only by Rome.

Educational institutions


Print Media

The Kansas City Star is the area's primary newspaper. William Rockhill Nelson first published the evening paper on September 1, 1880. The Star competed heavily with the morningTimes before acquiring it in 1926 and discontinuing it in March 1990.

Monthly newspapers such as The Kansas City Metro Voice and The Business Journal, and several weekly papers, including The Pitch and various suburban papers, also serve the Kansas City area.

Broadcast Media

See Related Article: Broadcast Media in Kansas City



Kansas City Sports teams presently include the following:

Club Sport League Venue Logo
Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball American League Kauffman Stadium Kansas City Royals Logo
Kansas City Chiefs Football National Football League : AFC Arrowhead Stadium Kansas City Chiefs Logo
Kansas City Wizards Soccer Major League Soccer Arrowhead Stadium Kansas City Wizards Logo
Kansas City Knights Basketball American Basketball Association Kemper Arena Kansas City Knights Logo

Other current teams include:

With the New Orleans VooDoo suspending operations in 2006 due to Hurricane Katrina, Kansas City will become the home of an Arena Football League expansion team. Players from the VooDoo will be on loan to this franchise yet to be named. In most likelihood, this team will be the first team to play at the new Sprint Center when it opens in 2007.

Past teams include NBA's Kings (Sacramento Kings), IHL's Blades, NFL's Blues and Cowboys (1924-1926), NHL's Scouts (New Jersey Devils), MLB's Athletics (Oakland Athletics), two minor league baseball teams named the Blues (one of which became the American League's Washington Senators, now Minnesota Twins), MISL's Comets (formerly the Attack), the Negro American League's Kansas City Monarchs, and the Kansas City Outlaws of the United Hockey League.

Sister cities

Kansas City has thirteen sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI): Arusha (Tanzania), Hannover (Germany), Guadalajara (Mexico), San Nicolas de los Garza (Mexico), Metz (France), Kurashiki (Japan), Morelia (Mexico), Port Harcourt (Nigeria), Ramla (Israel), Seville (Spain), Xi'an (China), Freetown (Sierra Leone), and Tainan City (China).

See also

External links

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Capital Jefferson City
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