HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY
The history of the Kansas City metropolitan area begins in the 19th century as Frenchmen from St. Louis, Missouri moved up the Missouri River to trap for furs and trade with the Native Americans. The Kansas City metropolitan area, straddling the border between Missouri and Kansas at the confluence of theKansas and Missouri Rivers, was a strategic point for commerce and security. Kansas City, Missouri was founded in 1838 and defeated its rival Westport to become the predominant city west of St. Louis. The area played a major role in the westward expansion of the United States. The Santa Fe, and Oregon trails ran through the area. In 1854, when Kansas was opened to Euro-American settlement, the Missouri-Kansas border became the first battlefield in the conflict in the American Civil War.
The origins of Kansas City date to the early 1800s, when French fur traders arrived by the Missouri River and built rough cabins along the river. The town of Kansas was formed in 1838 and a trail connecting the river landing to the Santa Fe Trail in the town of Westport was established. Several years later commercial buildings were popping up along the river bluffs. The era leading up to the Civil War was a tense and bloody time in Kansas City, as Missouri was a slave state and Kansas a free state. The Battle of Westport–one of bloodiest battles west of the Mississippi–took place in what today is Loose Park and Forest Hill Cemetery. With the Union prevailing, the city remained divided. Northerners preferred to live on the west side of Main Street on streets dubbed Pennsylvania, Broadway and Washington, and Southerners on the east side on streets such as Oak, Walnut and Locust. By 1870 a downtown street grid had been established.
Kansas City, Missouri Skyline as seen from the Liberty Memorial.
Kansas City, Missouri, was officially incorporated on March 28, 1853. Theterritory straddling the border between Missouri and Kansas at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers was considered a good place to build settlements.
Town of Kansas
Expansion around the landing was stifled because it was a farm mostly owned by Gabriel Prudhomme. In 1838, McCoy and Chouteau and other merchants formed the "Town of Kansas Company" and purchased Prudhomme's 271-acre (1.1 km2) farm for $4,220. The investors rejected other names for the new town including Port Fonda, Rabbitville and Possum Trot. The following year, in 1839, Chouteau died, and the area outside of Westport Landing was renamed the Town of Kansas.
Throughout the 1840s, the population and importance of the Town of Kansas swelled as it and nearby Independence and Westport became starting points on the Oregon, Santa Fe, and California trails for settlers heading west. Between St. Louis and California, the Kansas/Missouri river junction was one of the few substantially populated areas. The first rail travel came to the Town of Kansas in 1847.
Jackson County finally formally incorporated the Town of Kansas on June 3, 1850 (traditionally viewed as the date of Kansas City's founding). Its population was approximately 1,500 people. The first newspaper (the now-defunct Kansas City Ledger) and first telegraph service were established in the Town of Kansas in 1851.
City of Kansas
Missouri officially incorporated the city on March 28, 1853; it changed the name to the City of Kansas. At the first municipal election in 1853, there were 67 voters from an estimated population of 2,500. The initial incorporated area was about 10 blocks west to east and five blocks north to south. It was bordered by Bluff Road (about the location of present dayInterstate 35) on the west, Independence Avenue on the south and Holmes Street on the east and the Missouri River on the north. William S. Gregory became the first mayor but had to resign within 10 months when it was discovered that the mayor actually had to live in the city.
Main article: Bleeding Kansas
At the time of the City of Kansas's incorporation, Missouri was still a slave state. However, the population was deeply divided over the issue of slavery. In 1854, the United States Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which rejected the 1820 Missouri Compromise and allowed new territories to choose whether they wished to allow slavery, whereas the Missouri Compromise had prohibited slavery in any new states to be created north of latitude 36°30'. Thus, according to the Missouri Compromise, Kansas Territory (located immediately to the west of the City of Kansas, Missouri) had been a free territory but now could choose to permit slavery.
As a result of the new potential for slavery in Kansas, pro-slavery activists infiltrated Kansas Territory from the neighboring slave state of Missouri. To abolitionists and other Free-Staters, who desired Kansas to be admitted to the Union as a free state, they were collectively known as Border Ruffians. Pro-slavery Missourians flocked to Kansas in force, electing a pro-slavery Kansas Territorial Legislature. In response, abolitionists began arriving in the area, and in 1855 they declared the Kansas Territorial Legislature "bogus" and elected their own representatives to form a new territorial government inLawrence, Kansas (approximately 35 miles (56 km) west of the City of Kansas). The newly established City of Kansas soon found itself in the middle of a dispute known as Bleeding Kansas.
Despite the ongoing conflict, the City of Kansas continued to grow rapidly. It gained a courthouse, city market, and chamber of commerce in 1857. In 1858, however, the local violence had grown so fierce that the Kansas Territorial Governor and the State of Missouri both asked U.S. President James Buchanan to send in federal troops. The president agreed, and with the troops' presence the violence seemed quelled.
The Pendergast era, under Democrat big city bosses James and Tom Pendergastfrom 1890 to 1940, ushered in a colorful and influential era for the city. The Pendergasts presided over an era when many outsized personalities shaped the city and contributed to the whole country. During this period, the Pendergasts ensured that national prohibition was meaningless in Kansas City; the Kansas City boulevard and park system was developed; the Country Club Plaza, Country Club District, and Ward Parkway were created; TWA made Kansas City the hub of national aviation; most of the downtown Kansas City buildings were built; its inner city culture blossomed with contributions to the Negro League (baseball), Kansas City jazz (music), Kansas City-style barbecue (cuisine), the stockyards and train station (industry and transportation) was second only to Chicago; and Harry S Truman, from nearby Independence, became President. Much of the construction during these "wide open days" used Pendergast Readi-Mix Concrete, and the era was marked by considerable violence and corruption. Pendergast was ultimately defanged with a 1940 income tax evasion charge.
At the start of the 20th century, political machines gained clout in the city, with the one led by Tom Pendergast dominating the city by 1925. Several important buildings and structures were built during this time, including the Kansas City City Halland the Jackson County Courthouse. The machine fell in 1939 when Pendergast, riddled with health problems, pled guilty to tax evasion.
Kansas City or K.C. is the largest city in the state of Missouri. It is the 37th largest city by population in the United States and the 23rd largest by area. It is the central city of the Kansas City metropolitan area, which spans theKansas–Missouri border. It was founded in the 1830s as a Missouri Riverport. Originally called Kansas, this became confusing upon the establishment of Kansas Territory in 1854. The name Kansas City was assigned to distinguish the two. Sitting on Missouri's western border, withdowntown near the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, the modern city encompasses 316 square miles (820 km2) in Jackson, Clay,Cass, and Platte counties. It is one of Jackson County's two county seats. The 18th and Vine Neighborhood gave birth to the musical styles of Kansas City jazz and Kansas City blues. It is also known for Kansas City-style barbecue. The area is infamous for the Border War that occurred during theAmerican Civil War, including the Battle of Westport and Bleeding Kansas. Major suburbs include Independence and Lee's Summit in Missouri andOverland Park, Olathe and Kansas City in Kansas.