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12 Facts About Kansas City That Will Surprise You

Kansas City Insider Guides
by Lindsay Wang Sep 21, 2016

1. We’re the ones responsible for shopping malls.

Country Club Plaza was originally designed in 1922 with the idea of accommodating shoppers arriving by car.  As such, it was the first suburban shopping mall in the world and a precedent for the now common shopping mall found everywhere.  Today, you can stroll amongst the Spanish architecture and shop in over 150 stores at the Plaza.  There are also dozens of restaurants, a movie theater, and live performances scattered throughout the 15-block district.

2. …And Hallmark cards

Every time you give someone a Hallmark card, you are giving them a little piece of KC.  The company started with Joyce Clyde Hall, who moved to KC in 1910 with two shoeboxes full of postcards.  His brother, Rollie Hall, later joined and the company became Hall Brothers.  They built themselves up, created the idea of personal greeting cards, and became the legendary company that still calls KC home.  Not only are the headquarters located here, but there is also a Hallmark Visitors Center to explore.

3. Mickey Mouse was first drawn here.

Walt Disney moved to KC with his family when he was nine years old.  He grew up here and started Laugh-O-Gram Studios in 1920.  A small mouse was rumored to live in the building and to ultimately have inspired the original drawings for Mickey Mouse.  To children and adults everywhere, you are welcome.

4. We have acres of green space.

At 1,805 acres, Swope Park is more than twice the size of New York City’s Central Park.  It is one of the largest urban parks in the country and provides KC with a huge green space to explore.  Within its grounds sit a golf course, a pool, the Kansas City Zoo, the Starlight Theatre (one of only two self-producing, outdoor theaters in the country), and nine full-size soccer fields that make up Swope Soccer Village.  There is no shortage of opportunities to spend a day outside.

5. We have more fountains than any other city in the world besides Rome.

That’s why KC is called the ‘City of Fountains.’ This nickname is quite literal since we have more fountains than any other city in the United States.  Throughout KC, there are over 200 fountains.  They range from large, ornate, European-looking attractions to small, simple fountains tucked away inside neighborhood parks.  Every April, the city celebrates Fountain Day when many of its fountains are turned back on after their winter hibernations.  Yes, we have a holiday devoted to our fountains.

6. And we have more boulevards than any other city besides Paris.

And we’re really proud of this, too. Another nickname, “Paris of the Plains,” may derive from the many, many boulevards running throughout our city. With 132 miles of boulevards, KC has more boulevards than any other city besides Paris.  The boulevard system was crucial in altering the cityscape many years ago.  KC was once an unattractive boomtown, until it was redesigned to be more accessible and attractive to its residents.  As part of the City Beautiful movement, George E. Kessler designed a system that allows for traffic to move without the loss of green space and green connections.  This has kept KC a “city within a park.”

7. Prohibition never happened here.

A journalist once wrote, “If you want to see some sin, forget Paris and head to Kansas City.”  He was referring to KC during the time of prohibition.  Rather than closing up the bar scene, KC ignored prohibition altogether.  Instead, the city’s inhabitants partook in booze, brothels, all-night jazz sessions, gambling, and further debauchery.  Due to some big city bosses and political pay-offs, KC was never bothered for its continued drinking and gambling.  This just goes to show that our bursting craft beer and cocktail scene has been long in the making.

8. Ernest Hemingway found inspiration among our city streets.

Hemmingway had many homes throughout his prolific career and one of them was in KC.  He spent various amounts of time in KC, with his longest stay coming in at six months.  Combined all together, he lived in KC for one year.  His writing reflected many of his experiences in the area and, most importantly, he worked as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star.  This experience helped him to wield his specific and pointed writing style.  While we can’t claim full credit for his talents, we can certainly claim to provide him with some inspiration.

9. We have more BBQ restaurants per capita than any other city.

Come hungry.

10. Jackie Robinson played here before becoming the first African-American major leaguer.

Jackie Robinson once played for the Negro Leagues organization, the Kansas City Monarchs.  The Monarchs were the longest-running franchise in Negro Leagues baseball history.  It was from his start on this team that Jackie Robinson went on to break baseball’s color barrier when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946.

Today, you can visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to learn all about this important time in sports and American history.  The museum offers tours, exhibits, multi-media displays, photographs, and artifacts that bring the players and their teams to life.

11. Speaking of revolutionary sports teams…we have another one.

Sporting Kansas City is one of the ten charter members of the MLS.  Originally the Kansas City Wiz, this team has won two MLS cups and is the only major professional sports league to play in Kansas.  A trip to Children’s Mercy Park is a must!  The fans, chanting, and players make it a sports experience all its own.

12. The Royals inspired Lorde’s hit song.

Lorde was first inspired to write her hit song, Royals, after she saw a National Geographic image of Royal’s player George Brett signing baseballs.  Who knew the Royals served as muses for more than little kids hoping to be big league players one day?

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