Kansas City, Missouri, a city in the western part of the state, at the junction of the Missouri and Kansas rivers. It adjoins Kansas City, Kansas. The Missouri city is the largest in the state, and it occupies part of Jackson, Clay, and Platte counties. It extends about 40 miles (64 km) north-south and 20 miles (32 km) east-west. The Missouri River divides the city into two nearly equal parts; the southern half is more heavily built up. The city's terrain ranges from flat to gently rolling.

Kansas City is the dominant city of a large metropolitan area that includes Kansas City, Kansas, other cities, and much farmland. Among the surburban cities are Independence and Raytown, Missouri, and Overland Park and Prairie Village, Kansas. Nicknames of Kansas City include “Heart of America” and “Gateway to the West and Southwest.”

Largest communities in the Kansas City area
NamePopulation
Kansas City, MO441,545
Overland Park, KS149,080
Kansas City, KS146,866
Independence, MO113,288
Olathe, KS92,962
Lees Summit, MO70,700
Blue Spring, MO48,080
Shawnee, KS47,996
Lenexa, KS40,238
Leavenworth, KS35,420
Economy

Much of Kansas City's economic strength stems from the processing and marketing of farm products. Nationally, Kansas City is first in the marketing of hard winter wheat and ranks high as a distributor of foods and farm equipment. It is also a large feeder cattle market.

Kansas City is a major industrial center. Among the chief products made in the city are automobiles and trucks, farm equipment, steel, food products, vending machines, and electrical equipment. Kansas City leads the nation in the production of envelopes and greeting cards.

A Federal Reserve bank and a number of large commercial banks make Kansas City regionally important in finance. Government (federal, state, and local) is a large employer. There are large wholesale trade and retail mail-order businesses.

Kansas City is one of the main convergence points for trunk-line railways and highways and is also a river port and a major air terminal. Kansas City's main airport, opened in 1972, handles domestic and international flights.

Main Attractions

In downtown Kansas City are the observatory-topped City Hall and the H. Roe Bartle Hall and Municipal Auditorium, site of conventions, exhibitions, and musical events. Nearby is the City Market, an outdoor market held in the same location since the early 1800's. In the stockyards area are the Livestock Exchange, the Kemper Memorial Arena, and the American Royal Center, home of the annual Royal Livestock, Horse Show, and Rodeo.

Crown Center, just south of downtown Kansas City, is a huge commercial and residential redevelopment project. The Liberty Memorial, a 217-foot (66-m) tower, stands in nearby Penn Valley Park. Farther south, around the Country Club Plaza shopping center, is one of the city's finest residential areas.

In Swope Park, largest of the city's many parks, are the zoo and the outdoor Starlight Theater, where musicals and concerts are presented during summer. Worlds of Fun, north of the Missouri River, is a large amusement park; adjoining it is Oceans of Fun, an aquatic theme park. The Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League and the Kansas City Royals of baseball's American League play in the twin stadiums of the Harry S. Truman Sports Complex.

The University of Missouri at Kansas City is the city's largest institution of higher learning. Other schools include Avila and Rockhurst Colleges, and the Kansas City Art Institute. Linda Hall Library is devoted to science. Exhibits on natural history and regional history are featured in the Kansas City Museum. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a notable art museum. The 18th & Vine Historic District is home to the Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Kansas City has a symphony orchestra, an opera company, and a children's theater. The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum is in nearby Independence.

History

Kansas City began as a trading post in the 1820's and was settled in 1838. It was called Westport Landing at that time; it served as a landing for Westport, a town and outfitting point four miles (6 km) south on the Santa Fe and Oregon trails. Both trails were important in the city's early growth.

The Battle of Westport in 1864 was one of the largest Civil War battles fought west of the Mississippi River. Rapid growth came after the war with the arrival of railways and the building of the first railway bridge across the Missouri in 1869. By 1900, Kansas City had annexed Westport and become a prosperous agricultural trade center.

The 20th century brought manufacturing and other industries. During the 1920's and `30's, under political boss Thomas J. Pendergast, the city's government was notoriously corrupt; lasting political reforms began in 1940. An extremely destructive flood struck the city in 1951. New construction and redevelopment projects since the early 1960's have greatly enhanced the attractiveness of the city. In 1977 flash flooding hit the downtown area, causing several deaths and millions of dollars in damage. In the 1980's, Kansas City attracted sizable foreign investment, giving a significant boost to its economy. In 1991 residents elected the city's first black mayor, Emanuel Cleaver.

Population: 441,545