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Kansas City History

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Fun Facts!

  • For many generations, several Indian tribes, including the Osage, Kansa and Wyandotte shared the land around Kansas City.
  • Kansas City played a major role in history as a gateway for pioneers heading West along the Oregon, California and Santa Fe trails. In the mid-1800s, settlers, missionaries and traders began their overland journeys from several local points while the Town of Kansas was incorporated in 1850.
  • Railroads and livestock helped Kansas City establish itself as a booming business community, and jazz and barbeque set the tone for signature entertainment and food. Famous Kansas Citians include Harry S. Truman, Walt Disney, Jean Harlow, Thomas Hart Benton, Charlie "Bird" Parker, Ed Asner, Satchel Paige, Melissa Ethridge, Robert Altman, Oleta Adams, George Brett, Maurice Green, and Tom Watson.
  • Waiters were shipped in from New York City for the opening of the first Kansas City Club building (12th and Wyandotte) in 1887.
  • The first telegraph line reached Kansas City from Boonville on December 20, 1858.
  • The extensive, interlocking system of parks and boulevards set aside by visionary planners in the 1890s prompted writers to call the Kansas City area "Paris on the Plains."
  • Kansas City's first venture in waterworks was a $10.00 appropriation for a town pump, granted by the council on March 31, 1854.
  • Kansas City's first televised event was a banquet to honor William M. Boyle, Jr., chairman of the Democratic National Committee. WDAF-TV broadcast the event, live, on September 29, 1949.
  • The first locomotive for the Missouri Pacific Railroad (Kansas City's first railroad) came to Kansas City by boat, with a shipment of four flat cars and 100 tons of iron rails, delivered June 21, 1864. The locomotive was placed onto tracks in September of the same year.
  • Opened in 1922, the Country Club Plaza was the first shopping area planned for the automobile. Its 12 towers and numerous fountains and artworks were modeled after Seville, Spain.
  • The Kansas City Philharmonic made its national debut on WDAF radio during the dedication ceremony for the Nelson Gallery-Atkins Museum of Art, December 11, 1933.
  • People of German and German-Russian background are numerous in the Kansas City area, and settled widely in the state of Kansas in the late 1870s.
  • Famous explorers Lewis and Clark explored the territory that would become Kansas City between 1804 and 1806.
  • The Santa Fe Trail, established in 1821, was one of the longest commercial routes in the pre-railroad era, running 1,255 kilometers from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
  • Famed abolitionist John Brown came to Kansas Territory in 1855 and during a three-year stay staged several armed skirmishes and freed some Missouri slaves.
  • Kansas was in the center of the great bison (or buffalo) range until the 1870s.
  • The first African-Americans officially recognized by the U.S. government as front-line troops, the 1st and 2nd Kansas Colored Infantry, were trained in 1864 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The famed 10th U.S. Cavalry, the "Buffalo Soldiers," organized there in 1867.
  • Walt Disney, the creator of Mickey Mouse, attended art school in Kansas City and experimented with the process of animation in a tiny upstairs studio on 31st Street in Kansas City, Missouri, in the 1920s.
  • Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean (1928) and the first to fly solo across the Atlantic (1932), was born in Atchison, Kansas. Earhart broke numerous records before being lost on an around-the-world flight in 1937.

Additional Historical Information

The Heritage League of Greater Kansas City