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Kansas City, Missouri

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Location of Kansas City

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 Mayor of Kansas City, MO is Kay Barnes (Full name Kay Waldo Barnes); she was elected in April 1999 (re-elected in 2003) and her second and final term will expire in 2007.

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Kansas City Skyline
Contents

History

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 Yankee Saints and southern Missourians led to the expulsion of the Mormons from Jackson County in 1833.

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.

The City was connected to the telegraph system in 1858, to the railway in 1864 (with a bridge crossing the river in 1869) and the first aircraft landed at the Municipal Airport in 1927.

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. Union Station, built in 1914, was one of the largest passenger terminals 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.

Initially, the city's major industry was cattle. By the 1860s it had one of the largest cattle markets in America. That industry peaked in the early 20th century.

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. Today, top stores such as Tiffany's, Coach and others have shops there, along with lively 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 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 and blues (Kansas City blues) flourishing in areas such as 18th and Vine.

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 in May 1939. 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

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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.

Related articles: Downtown Kansas City - Alphabet Loop

Geography

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.

Demographics

As of the censusTemplate:GR 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.

Attractions

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

Educational institutions

Airports

Sports

Kansas City Sports team presently include the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL's American Conference Western Division; The Kansas City Royals, of MLB's American League Central; The MLS's KC Wizards; the MISL's KC Comets; and the ABA's KC Knights.

Past teams include NBA's Kings (Sacramento Kings), IHL's Blades, NHL's Scouts (New Jersey Devils), MLB's Athletics (Oakland Athletics), the Negro American League's Kansas City Monarchs, and the Kansas City Outlaws of the United Hockey League.

Kansas City will also be the home of an Arena Football League team by 2006. To date, this team will be the first team to play at the new Sprint Center when it opens in 2007.

Kansas Citians

The following is a partial list of people associated with Kansas City for various reasons, including birth:

See also

External links

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