History of Kansas City
Kansas City was founded in 1833 at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers and at the border between the states of Kansas and Missouri. At the time, the Town of Kansas, together with a few other neighboring towns, were critical for the westward expansion in America. The City of Kansas was officially incorporated in 1853 and adopted its current name in 1889. At the time it was incorporated, Kansas City was already a significant wheat and grain exchange center.
After the Civil War, Kansas City was chosen as the site of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad Bridge, a decision which guaranteed growth and development of the city. Kansas City underwent a series of projects aimed to improve the urban core, resulting in a number of wide and long boulevards, fountains statues, Art Deco buildings, and, most notably, the famous Country Club district.
In the second half of the 20th century, Kansas City was the site of 1968 riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. it went through suburban sprawl and inner city decay and in 1981 it was the site of one of the deadliest structural collapses in the American history, when Hyatt’s walkway collapsed and killed 114 people.
Geography and Climate
Kansas City is located in the Midwestern United States, in the state of Missouri, just next to the border with Kansas. It occupies an area of 316 square miles and lies on the bluffs overlooking Missouri and Kansas rivers and their confluence.
The climate in the city is humid continental, with four distinct seasons and moderate precipitation. Summers are warm to hot with occasional heat waves and winters are cold and sometimes freezing. Since it is located in the so-called Tornado Alley, Kansas City is prone to tornadoes. The worst outbreaks were those in 1957 and in 2003.
Kansas City has over 260 neighborhoods, many of which were independent cities at one point and later incorporated into the city. Notable neighborhoods include Downtown Kansas City, Ivanhoe, Westport, Hyde Park 18th and Vine Historic District, River Market and Crossroads Arts District.
The city is famous for its many boulevards and for over 200 working fountains, many of which are located in the Country Club Plaza.
Population of Kansas City
At the last official census (2010) Kansas City had 459,787 inhabitants and the estimated population in 2011 was 463,202. The racial makeup in 2010 was 54.9% non-Hispanic Whites, 29.9% Black or African American, 10% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 2.5% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 4.5% some other race and 3.2% two or more races.
Mexicans make up the largest portion of the Hispanic population in Kansas City while Vietnamese are the most numerous among the Asians.
The largest employer in Kansas City is the U.S. Government, with more than 145 federal agencies in the metro area. In fact, Kansas City is one of ten regional office cities for the U.S. Government.
The city is home to several large law firms, including the international firms Lathrop & Gage, Stinson Morrison & Hacker and Hardy & Bacon.
Kansas City is also home to the largest dairy co-op in the USA, the Dairy Farmers of America.
Some of the companies with headquarters in Kansas City include Applebee’s, AMC Theatres, Hallmark Cards, 360 Architecture, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Burns and McDonnell Engineering, DST Systems and many others.
Ford Motor Company has a large plant just outside the city and one of the largest drug manufacturing plants in the nation, the Sanofi-Aventis plant, is located in southern part of Kansas City.
Culture and Attractions
Kansas City is home to the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Kansas City Symphony, Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Chorale, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Starlight Theatre and many other theatre and music companies.
In the 1930s the city played an important role in the history of jazz music, being the birthplace of Kansas City jazz that marked the transition between big band style and bebop. The city today has many music venues and clubs, not only for jazz but for all the other music styles. The city is home to musicians and bands such as Puddle of Mudd, The Get Up Kids, Coalesce, Tech N9ne and Kutt Calhoun.
Kansas City has a large Irish-American community, whose cultural activities are today centered around the Irish Museum and Cultural Center.
Major attractions in the city are the casinos on the river, which have been legalized in 1992. Of course, sites of interest such as Country Club Plaza, Power and Light District, Kansas City Zoo, American Jazz Museum, Crossroads Art District, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and Kansas City Museum also get a lot of visitors. In addition, the city is famous for its cuisine, especially the Kansas Style Strip Steak and barbecue.
Top institutions of higher education in Kansas City include University of Missouri-Kansas City, Rockhurst University, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, Avila University, Park University and others.
The city is home to Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL and the Kansas City Royals of the MLB.