Kansas City

1,519,417 (urban), 2,071,133 (metro)

Central

Humid continental (four distinct seasons, moderate precipitation, hot summers, cold winters, potential for extreme hot and cold swings year round, and is on the edge of Tornado Alley)

Inside Tips About Kansas City

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Étienne de Veniard, Sieur de Bourgmont. A big, fancy name for a French guy who became an illegal fur trader. He was the first European to explore the lower Missouri River, and the first visitor to Kansas City. The French commander during a Native American attack on Fort Détroit, he deserted his post and went on the lam from French authorities with his Native American wife, becoming an illegal fur trader. To help clear his name as a deserter, he wrote a report on how to best exploit the area. He described the junction of the Missouri River and the “Grande Rivière des Cansez.” A Franco phoneticization of the Native American name Kansa (which has many, many alternate spellings), Cansez ended up on the first maps, and later Kansez. When Lewis and Clark visited, they pointed out that it was a good place to build a fort. When a group of investors anglicized the name to Kansas, formed the Kansas Town Company and began settling the area, the name was a lock.

Kansas City sits astride the Missouri River in both Missouri and Kansas. The Kansas side often calls itself KCK for differentiation. The Missouri side is where you’ll find the downtown, older residential neighborhoods and mixed development. There’s been big growth on the Kansas side of late, with suburban sprawl to the southwest. KCK is working to change its image from a gritty, industrial city. Downtown Kansas City has museums and historical architectural attractions. Urban renewal includes government, commercial and entertainment development, as well as urban residential development. Barbecue and blues are available in profusion.

 

Neighborhoods

Living In and Around Kansas City

For KC living, let’s look at the Missouri side, followed by the Kansas side. There’s been buzz about downtown Kansas City living, with HuffPo having put it on their list of cities to watch. River Market is a popular, revitalized neighborhood that’s highly walkable. Primarily young adults, there are also some empty nesters living here. Back in 2008, Cottage Living magazine named Westside one of the country’s top 10 neighborhoods. It’s a very diverse community, largely Hispanic and working class, with some Mexican-American families who’ve been there for generations. Housing is a mix of renovated older homes and new construction. Country Club Plaza is considered the country’s oldest outdoor shopping center, and is a popular community. Spanish revival architecture, with remodeled buildings and new construction, condos, apartments and some single-family homes, are all situated around the edges of the shopping and entertainment district. Westport is a time-tested restaurant and shopping destination, with longtime residents and younger couples inhabiting quiet, tree-lined neighborhoods. Despite being in the city, Brookside is where Kansas City, Missouri’s first suburban shopping area was developed. A city neighborhood with a small-town feel, you find older homes, local shops, good restaurants and median household income is around $100,000. Well outside the city is Kearney. A fast-growing suburb with lots of big, newly-built homes, Kearny’s claim to fame is being the birthplace of the infamous outlaw, Jesse James.

On the Kansas side, Leawood is a classic American suburb. Good schools, good parks, good dining, townhouse living or single-family homes across a range of prices. Home to the largest church (Methodist) in the KC area. Adjacent Prairie Village is of a similar stripe, with pedestrian-friendly shopping and even some historic homes with Arts & Crafts architecture. Nearby Overland Park is a slightly more upscale community, with good schools, big homes, golf clubs and convenient shopping. Just beyond Overland Park is the more affordable Lenexa, with lower housing prices and plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Neatly situated catty corner to both is Shawnee, which is also relatively affordable and has a reputation for good parks, good dining, and a range of new construction housing options, from condos to single-family homes.

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