|Kansas City is a great city that tends to hide itself from tourists. Having reportedly more boulevards than Paris and more fountains than Rome, it can be a beautiful city, too. It is also unique, in that it is split down the middle by the state line of Kansas and Missouri. |
Suburban sprawl takes place mostly south of the city, though the area north of the Missouri River (known locally as the Northland) is beginning to experience growth similar to the south. East/west streets are numbered, beginning at the Missouri River. The east/west division is marked by Main Street. Westport can be found around 40th Street, the Plaza at 47th Street, Brookside at 55th, and Waldo beginning around Gregory(71st Street).
Traveling north to south, the River Market is the first neighborhood one would encounter, south of the banks of the Missouri River. A burgeoning urban neighborhood, the River Market houses many shops, restaurants, bars, and a very active farmer's market that convenes every Saturday, even in the winter. The expressways form a loop around downtown, and when crossing the north segment of the loop, a visitor exits the River Market, and enters the central business district. This is where Kansas City's famed skyline reaches its highest heights, further accentuated by its position on top of a sizable hill. The CBD is also the principal concentration of white-collar employment in the metro area. H&R Block are constructing a new world headquarters here, and around this, the city is building a new entertainment district, complete with shops, restaurants, bars, and a new arena. The estimated date of completion for all of this is late 2007.
From here, crossing the south segment of the loop will bring a visitor into the Crossroads district, which is a regional center for art, culture, and nightlife. The vibrant art community in the Crossroads hosts First Friday, on the first Friday of every month.
When a visitor crosses Pershing, they reach Union Station and Crown Center, which houses shops, restaurants, and offices, including the world headquarters of Hallmark. The nearby Liberty Memorial is the world's first World War I memorial, and for $2, visitors can take an elevator to the observation deck at the top of its 200' obelisk, for spectacular views. Just south of Crown Center is Union Hill, another revitalized area offering some of the best skyline views in the city.
A visitor enters Midtown when they cross 31st Street. A largely residential area, Midtown is the largest single named neighborhood in the city, and actually includes a number of smaller neighborhoods, like Hyde Park, Ivanhoe, Coleman Highlands, Roanoke, Volker, Westport, Southmoreland, Valentine, North Plaza, and many others.
Just south of Midtown is the Plaza, one of the finest outdoor shopping centers in America, modeled after Seville, Spain. Farther south is the Waldo/Brookside area marked by more bars and a wonderful pre-war neighborhood. Further south, the city gives way to suburban development, which continues for about ten to fifteen miles, before giving way to rural farmland and pastures.
After years of neglect and decay that happened in the 1980's and 1990's, downtown Kansas City is making a comeback. Many once-abandoned buildings in downtown have been (or are in the process of being) rebuilt into high-dollar condominiums and loft apartments. The demand for residences downtown is quite high. In 2007, the Sprint Center sports arena will be completed, bringing a modern sports venue to the downtown core. This development in-progress has already sparked several other major developments, including the new headquarters for H&R Block. The "Downtown Council" (see link) operates security and cleaning/maintenance crews, who keep downtown's streets clean, and serve as a security presence. Downtown is one of the safest areas of the city, day and night.
Downtown Kansas City is generally defined as the areas including the River Market, the banking district (the "loop") the Crossroads Art District, Crown Center and Union Station.
Kansas City enjoys mild winters with light snow, but with temperatures usually staying well above freezing. Snow accumulation occurs 3-5 times per year, on average, rarely exceeding 2-4 inches, and usually melting away within a week, if not 24-48 hours. Kansas City enjoys very pleasant spring and autumn weather, and suffers hot, humid summers. It is not uncommon for the temperature to stay above 90 degrees Fahrenheit for weeks at a time, during July and August. Because of the heat, almost all buildings in Kansas City are equipped with air conditioning. While Kansas City has relatively high humidity, the most common weather is clear with almost completely blue skies. The majority of the rain falls in April, May, and June, but even in these wettest months, rain is light, compared to other cities in the region.
• Swope Park Zoo
• Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art
• Kansas City Chiefs (Football) Tailgating is a key tradition evident at every home game.
• Kansas City Brigade (Arena Football)
• Kansas City Royals (Baseball)
• Kansas City Knights (Basketball)
• Kansas City Wizards (Outdoor Soccer)
• Kansas City Comets (Indoor Soccer)
• Kansas City Royals (Baseball)
• Kansas City T-Bones (Independent League Baseball)
• Plaza Art Fair
• American Royal BBQ contest (Largest in the world)
• First Fridays in the Crossroads Arts District, (gallery crawl between Downtown and Crown Center) - 7pm to 9pm on the first Friday of each month. Many art galleries are open late on these Fridays, attracting a growing crowd of art enthusiasts. You can walk between galleries, or hop the free trolley. Summer months are typically the most busy and entertaining. Entry to most galleries is free. Some charge for refreshments.
• Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
• Kemper Gallery of Art
• Community Christian Church Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright visible from the plaza.
• Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
• American Jazz Museum
• Science City at Union Station
• Arvin Gotleib Planetarium at Union Station
• The Fairmont on the Plaza
• Hyatt Regency Crown Center
• The Westin Crown Center
Despite a slight surge in homicides that is making headline news in 2005, Kansas City is generally a safe city. Nearly all violent crime is concentrated in poor "inner city" neighborhoods southeast of downtown, and almost always occurs in the middle of the night. Downtown and the Country Club Plaza (the two main centers of attractions in Kansas City) are generally safe day and night. Common sense and exercising normal caution should keep you out of trouble. During the summer months, the Westport district sometimes becomes a hotspot for trouble from teenagers and young adults during the evening and nighttime hours.
Kansas City is one of those places where hidden in darker corners, you will find the gems, the places to visit and go. Rarely do things jump out at you and say, come visit this attraction, food, shopping, or historical establishment. Pick up a Pitch Weekly for nightlife information. If you want to relax and enjoy a walk, check out Loose park just south of the Country Club Plaza. During the spring and fall, it's one of the most beautiful places to stroll.
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Kansas City International (MCI), serves the Kansas City area and is located in the northland. Taxi service to or from downtown will usually cost about $40. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority offers hourly service to and from the airport on the #129 bus, called the I-29 Express, on weekdays, from 5AM to 7PM. The fare is $1.25 since February 1st, 2006.
Amtrak serves Kansas City via the recently renovated and cavernous Union Station, located at Main and Pershing . Kansas City serves as a major stop on the Southwest Chief, which provides service between Chicago and Los Angeles. Barring delays, eastbound trains depart at 7:45 AM, Central Time, and westbound trains depart at 10:55 PM, Central Time.
I-435 forms a ring around the city. Notably I-70 goes east to St. Louis and west to Denver. I-35 is a major corridor running northeast and southwest. U.S. Highway 71 runs north and south and forms a midtown expressway, running from the I-435/I-470 interchange in Grandview, MO, in a northwesterly course toward downtown, where it joins I-29. North of the River, U.S. 71 follows the same route as I-29.
Kansas City is serviced by commercial bus service, which arrives and departs from the depot at 10th and Troost.
• Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
• Union Station
• Liberty Memorial
• Crossroads district
• The Country Club Plaza. Upscale shopping. High quality chain restaurants.
• Brookside local non-chain shops and non-chain restaurants. Grocery stores, bar, sandwiches.
• Ward Parkway
• 39th Street Corridor between State Line Road and Southwest Trafficway many local shops and non-chain restaurants.
• The Plaza
• Crown Center
• Brookside Shops
• Great Mall of the Great Plains (in Olathe, KS)
• Zona Rosa
• Sprint (Overland Park, KS)
• General Motors (Fairfax, KS)
• Ford (Claycomo, MO)
• Yellow Roadway
• Cerner Corporation