1. One Kansas City
nickname, “Paris of the Plains,” could have been inspired by the fact that the city has more boulevards than any other city besides the Paris of, well, Paris.
2. Country Club Plaza, considered to be the nation's first suburban shopping center, was influenced by the classical architecture of Seville. Its tallest building is a half-sized replica of La Giralda, the former minaret turned cathedral bell tower.
Source: Country Club Plaza via Facebook
3. Charlie Parker had his first paying gig at the Country Club Plaza, at a club called Martin's that occupied a spot where the Fogo de Chao restaurant now stands.
4. However, the nickname actually refers to KC's naughty rep during the roaring ‘20s, when it chose to ignore prohibition and welcomed not only boozing but also brothels, gambling, all-night jazz club jam sessions, and all kinds of other fun stuff. It's still unclear whether journalist Edward Morrow meant to diss the city or promote it when he penned his famous line; “If you want to see some sin, forget Paris and head to Kansas City.”
5. And while freeways may lack the romance of boulevards, Kansas City also has more miles of these per capita than any other metro area with over a million residents.
6. The corner of 12th and Vine, made famous by the Lieber and Stoller song, no longer actually exists, although a commemorative plaque marks the spot in the park that replaced it.
7. Possible names considered for the town that eventually grew into Kansas City were Rabbitville (imagine the Easter-themed promotions!) and Possum Trot.
8. Swope Park, at 1,805 acres, has got nearly 1,000 acres on New York's Central Park.
9. Fountain Day, held every April, marks the day that the city's numerous fountains are turned on for the season. Kansas City has over 200 of these, and claims to have more than any other city except Rome.
10. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Community Christian Church at 46th and Main Streets. Drive by it on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday evening to see the illuminated “Steeple of Light” beaming into the night.
Source: Community Christian Church via Facebook
11. By mid-century (the last one), it's said that one out of every seven women wore clothing that had been manufactured in one of KC's 86 garment factories.
12. A Nebraskan named Joyce Hall moved to Kansas City in 1910 with two boxes of postcards, and over the course of the next few decades he managed to parlay this into the nation's largest greeting card company, Hallmark Cards. Which, by the way, is still headquartered in KC.
13. While the original Russell Stover was born in north central Kansas, grew up in Iowa and founded his candy company in Denver, he moved it to Kansas City in 1931. Here it remains, having cemented (fondanted?) its place as the nation's leading manufacturer of boxed chocolates.
14. Boulevard Brewing's most hard-to-get product has got to be their Chocolate Ale, which only comes out once a year in time for Valentine's Day and tends to sell out about five minutes before you can make it to the store. This brew, actually does taste just like it sounds, is made in collaboration with Christopher Elbow, KC's best-known non-corporate chocolatier.
Source: Boulevard Brewing via Facebook
15. Kansas City is home to Temple Slug, the world's oldest waterbed store. It wasn't the first one on the planet when it opened back in 1970, but evidently any earlier waterbed retailers have long since gone down the drain.
16. The Hostess Company, or whatever it's calling itself these days, originated (many expansions, mergers, and takeovers ago) as the Nafziger Bakery, which operated out of a church basement at 6th and Prospect Avenue in 1905. Although the company (in one of its many incarnations) relocated to Texas for a couple of years, it's now back in Kansas City.
17. The Battle of Westport, fought in October of 1864, is often referred to as the “Gettysburg of the West” not only because it was one of the largest engagements ever to take place west of the Mississippi, but also because it effectively marked the end of any hope for a Confederate victory in the western theater.
18. Several participants in this battle (all of them having fought on the Union side) went on to bigger and better things: William Cody, a private with the Kansas Cavalry, founded the Buffalo Bill's Wild West show; James Hickok, a scout for the Union commanding general, later earned the nickname “Wild Bill” for his exploits as a gunman, gambler and sometime lawman; 2nd Colorado Cavalry private Jeremiah Johnson had Robert Redford play him in a 1972 movie that bore his name.
Source: Wikimedia user Kelson
19. Ernest Hemingway wrote the oh-so-upbeat (not) ending to “A Farewell to Arms” while living in Kansas City. He was staying with relatives at the time, which might explain him being such a downer.
20. Two of Hemingway's sons were born in Kansas City: Patrick and Gregory, both delivered by c-section. Hemingway gifted the first doctor with a signed copy of “A Farewell to Arms” which is today held by the UMKC library, while the second received a manuscript of Death in the Afternoon” which he sold for $13,000 in 1958.
21. Kansas City banned John Steinbeck's “The Grapes of Wrath” when it was published in 1939 because whoever it was that decided such things at the time objected to his use of “Jesus Christ” as a profanity.
22. Worlds of Fun had the first stand-up roller coaster outside of Japan, but Extremeroller only operated for the 1983 season before reverting back to a sit-down style.
23. Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium has played host to more NCAA Final Four Championships than any other venue.
24. Arrowhead Stadium, home to the Chiefs, has the first stadium scoreboard ever to transmit instant replay.
25. Before the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson as the first African-American major leaguer, he was a star shortstop with the Negro Leagues Kansas City Monarchs.
Source: Kansas City Call (newspaper) via Wikimedia Commons
26. While the Royals' only World Series championship was earned in 1985, Kansas City can also claim two other World Series wins: the Monarchs were victorious in the 1924 Colored World Series and the 1942 Negro World Series.
27. The Kansas City Royals take their name from the American Royal, an annual stock show that's been held in KC since 1899.
28. Kansas City actually used to have kind of a theme going on with its pro sports teams, what with the (former) Monarchs, the Royals, the Chiefs and the (now Sacramento) Kings. Not quite sure how Sporting Kansas City fits into the program, but they're iconoclasts anyway since they play in KCK.
29. Legendary baseball manager Casey Stengel was actually named Charles, but his nickname comes from the initials of his birthplace, the one and only K.C.
30. Mickey Mouse was actually created, not by Walt Disney, but by his friend and sometime partner, Kansas City native Ub Iwerks.
Source: Ub Iwerks (Ubbe Ert Iwwerks) via Facebook
31. Another K.C.-born animator, Rudolf Ising, was instrumental in establishing the animation studios at both Warner Brothers and MGM.
32. Science fiction author Robert Heinlein grew up in Kansas City, and the city features in a number of his stories, including "Methuselah's Children," "Time Enough For Love," "To Sail Beyond the Sunset," "Number of the Beast," and "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls."
33. Robert Altman was not only born and raised in Kansas City, but also directed a 1996 film by that name. This complicated tale of a double kidnapping revolves around the jazz scene of the 1930s.
34. Well-known wire hanger hater (and actor) Joan Crawford once worked at the downtown Harzfeld's department store. You'd think she might have developed her famous phobia here, if she had to pick up and re-hang dozens of dropped garments each day, but it seems she worked as an elevator operator instead.
Source: Harzfeld's via Facebook
35. Before Harry S. Truman went into politics, he owned a Kansas City haberdashery.
36. Kansas City salesman Edward Jacobson, Truman's one-time partner in haberdashery and lifelong friend, was instrumental in bringing about the U.S.'s recognition of the new state of Israel in 1948.
37. Food writer/humorist Calvin Trillin, a long-time contributor to the New Yorker magazine, was originally from Kansas City. He's the one who put Arthur Bryant's on the map by describing it in a “Playboy” article (yes, believe it or not, they actually do have them) as "...possibly the single best restaurant in the world".
38. Arthur Bryant was actually the man who invented KC-style BBQ as we know it. He took over a restaurant owned by a man named Henry Perry, who cooked his 'cue in the style of his native Memphis. Bryant added molasses to Perry's sauce recipe to sweeten it up a bit, and the rest is culinary history.
39. Kansas City has more barbecue restaurants per capita than any other city in the U.S. Or anywhere else, most likely, unless other planets are way more advanced than we thought.
40. KC Masterpiece barbecue sauce actually did originate in KC, the brainchild of a local child psychiatrist. I guess he thought good eating promotes mental health? Can't argue there.
Source: KC Masterpeice via Facebook
41. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art building itself is meant to form the “net” in a giant badminton game played by its famous Claes Oldenburg/Coojse van Bruggen “Shuttlecocks” sculpture. Three shuttlecocks lie on the south lawn, while one shuttlecock made it over the net to lie on the north lawn.
42. Speaking of the Nelson-Atkins, its new Bloch Building addition was ranked first on “Time” magazine's 2007 list of “The 10 Best (New and Upcoming) Architectural Marvels.”
43. The Kansas City Hail Storm of April 10, 2001 was the most damaging such storm ever recorded, with $1.5 billion in insurance claims (and who knows how much loss that wasn't even covered).
44. In 2009, the Kansas City International Airport reported the highest number of wildlife strikes of any U.S. airport, some 57 per 100,000. The most serious of these occurring that year involved a flock of Canada geese vs. a Frontier Airlines Airbus. One of the plane's engines lost power, as did a number of geese.
Source: Flickr user Joshua Mayer
45. While Kansas City International Airport is usually abbreviated in the press as KCI, its official airport code is MCI. Turns out the letter “K” is reserved for broadcast station call letters (as is the letter “W”), so when it came to choosing a code they had to revert to an earlier airport name, used only in the new airport's planning stages: Mid-Continent International.
46. Kansas City's Union Station was the site of a 1933 shootout between Pretty Boy Floyd and several law enforcement officers. Floyd's confederate Adam Richetti was convicted of his part in the Union Station Massacre, but Floyd escaped to continue his life of crime for another year before being gunned down in Ohio.
47. Kansas City again echoed to the sound of gunfire in the 1970s, when rival gangs warred over control of the River Quay entertainment district. Buildings were bombed, gangsters were killed, and the whole area went from hot spot to ghost town. It has since made a comeback, but not under that name—today it goes by the moniker of River Market.
48. In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicated the new headquarters of the American Hereford Association at 715 Kirk Drive, including it's famous hereford-on-a-pylon sculptor which was soon dubbed “Bob” (an acronym for “bull on building”). In 1997 the association relocated to 1501 Wyandotte, abandoning Bob in the process, but in 2002 he was relocated to a new pylon in Mulkey Square.
49. Kansas City Power and Light constructed the nifty All-Electric House in 1954, a modern marvel which featured such fab future technology as, gee whillikers, a “big screen” TV measuring a whopping 19”! Today this house, complete with TV, neon-green toilet, and pink laminate countertops, is on display at the Johnson County Museum of History in Shawnee.
50. A 2008 issue of the “Kansas City Star” magazine solicited reader ideas to put words in the mouth of “The Scout”, KC's famous statue of a Sioux warrior on horseback who overlooks the city from Penn Valley Park. The best one of the bunch? “Tonto, I don’t believe we’re in Kansas anymore.”
Source: Flickr user Amanda Warren