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Kansas City, Missouri

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, a city and port of entry of Jackson county, Missouri, U.S.A., the second in size and importance in the state, situated at the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers, adjoining Kansas City, Kansas, and 235 m. W. by N. of St Louis. Pop. (1890), 132,716; (1900), 163,752, of whom 18,410 were foreign born (German, 4816; Irish, 3507; Swedish, 1869; English, 1863; English-Canadian, 1369; Italian, 1034), and 17,567 were negroes; (1910 census) 248,381. Kansas City, the gateway to the South-west, is one of the leading railway centres of the United States. It is served by the Union Pacific, the Missouri Pacific, the 'Frisco System, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, the Chicago Great Western, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul, the Chicago & Alton, the Wabash, the Kansas City Southern, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas, the Leavenworth, Kansas & Western, the Kansas City, Mexico & Orient, the St Louis, Kansas City & Colorado, the Quincy, Omaha & Kansas City, and the St Joseph & Grand Island railways, and by steamboat lines to numerous river ports.

The present retail, office, and wholesale sections were once high bluffs and deep ravines, but through and across these well graded streets were constructed. South and west of this highland, along the Kansas river, is a low, level tract occupied chiefly by railway yards, stock yards, wholesale houses and manufacturing establishments; north and east of the highland is a flat section, the Missouri River bottoms, occupied largely by manufactories, railway yards, grain elevators and homes of employes. Much high and dry " made " land has been reclaimed from the river flood-plain. Two great railway bridges across the Missouri, many smaller bridges across the Kansas, and a great interstate toll viaduct extending from bluff to bluff across the valley of the latter river, lie within the metropolitan area of the two cities. The streets of the Missouri city are generally wide and excellently paved. The city-hall (1890-1893), the courthouse (1888-1892), and the Federal Building (1892-1900) are the most imposing of the public buildings. A convention hall, 314 ft. long and 198 ft. wide, with a seating capacity of about 15,000, is covered by a steel-frame roof without a column for its support; the exterior of the walls is cut stone and brick. The building was erected within three months, to replace one destroyed by fire, for the National Democratic Convention which met here on the 4th of July 1900. The Public Library with walls of white limestone and Texas granite, contained (1908) 95,000 volumes. The Congregational, the Calvary Baptist, the Second Presbyterian, the Independence Avenue Christian, the Independence Avenue Methodist, and the Second Christian Science churches are the finest church buildings. The board of trade building, the building of the Star newspaper, and several large office buildings (including the Scarritt, Long, and New York Life Insurance buildings) are worthy of mention.

Kansas City has over 2000 acres in public parks; but Swope Park, containing 1354 acres, lies south of the city limits. The others are distributed with a design to give each section a recreation ground within easy walking distance, and all (including Swope) are connected by parkways, boulevards and street-car lines. The Paseo Parkway, 250 ft. wide, extends from N. to S. through the centre of the city for a distance of 2 1 m., and adjoining it near its middle is the Parade, or principal playground. The city has eight cemeteries, the largest of which are Union, Elmwood, Mt Washington, St Mary's and Forest Hill. The charitable institutions and professional schools included in 1908 about thirty hospitals, several children's homes and homes for the aged, an industrial home, the Kansas City school of law, the University medical college, and the Scarritt training school. The city has an excellent public school system. A Methodist Episcopal institutional church, admirably equipped, was opened in 1906. The city has a juvenile court, and maintains a free employment bureau.

Kansas City is primarily a commercial centre, and its trade in livestock, grain and agricultural implements is especially large. The annual pure-bred livestock show is of national importance. The city's factory product increased from $23,588,653 in 1900 to $35>573>49 m I 9S, or 50-8 %. Natural gas and crude petroleum from Kansas fields became of industrial importance about 1906. Natural gas is used to light the residence streets and to heat many of the residences.

Kansas City is one of the few cities in the United States empowered to frame its own charter. The first was adopted in 1875 and the second in 1889. In 1905 a new charter, drawn on the lines of the model " municipal program " advocated by the National Municipal League, was submitted to popular vote, but was defeated by the influence of the saloons and other special interests. The charter of 1908 is a revision of this proposed charter of 1905 with the objectionable features eliminated; it was adopted by a large majority vote. Under the provisions of the charter of 1908 the people elect a mayor, city treasurer, city comptroller, and judges of the municipal court, each for a term of two years. The legislative body is the common council composed of two houses, each having as many members as there are wards in the city 14 in 1908. The members of the lower house are elected, one by each ward, in the spring of each even numbered year. The upper house members are elected by the city at large and serve four years. A board of public works, board of park commissioners, board of fire and water commissioners, a board of civil service, a city counsellor, a city auditor, a city assessor, a purchasing agent, and subordinate officers, are appointed by the mayor, without confirmation by the common council. A non-partisan board composed of citizens who must not be physicians has general control of the city's hospitals and health department. A new hospital at a cost of half a million dollars was completed in 1908. The charter provides for a referendum vote on franchises, which may be ordered by the council or by petition of the people, the signatures of 20% of the registered voters being sufficient to force such election. Public work may be prevented by remonstrance of interested property owners except in certain instances, when the city, by vote of the people, may overrule all remonstrances. A civic league attempts to give a non-partisan estimate of all municipal candidates. The juvenile court, the arts and tenement commissions-, the municipal employment bureau, and a park board are provided for by the charter. All the members of the city board of election commissioners and a majority of the police board are appointed by the governor of the state; and the police control the grant of liquor licences. The city is supplied with water drawn from the Missouri river above the mouth of the Kansas or Kaw (which is used as a sewer by Kansas City, Kan.); the main pumping station and settling basins being at Quindaro, several miles up the river in Kansas; whence the water is carried beneath the Kansas, through a tunnel, to a high- pressure distributing station in the west bottoms. The waterworks (direct pressure system) were acquired by the city in 1895. All other public services are in private hands. The street-railway service is based on a universal 5-cent transfer throughout the metropolitan area. Some of the first overhead electric trolleys used in the United States were used here in 1885.

The first permanent settlement within the present limits of Kansas City, which took its name from Kansas river, 1 was established by French fur traders about 1821. Westport, a little inland town platted 1833, a city 1857, merged in Kansas City in 1899 now a fashionable residence district of Kansas City was a rival of Independence in the Santa Fe trade which she gained almost in tola in 1844 when the great Missouri flood (the greatest the river has known) destroyed the river landing utilized by Independence. Meanwhile, what is now Kansas City, and was then Westport Landing, being on the river where a swift current wore a rocky shore, steadily increased in importance and overshadowed Westport. But in 1838 lots were surveyed and the name changed to the Town of Kansas. It was officially organized in part in 1^47, formally incorporated as atown in 1850, chartered under its present name in 1853, rechartered in 1875, in 1889 and in 1908. Before 1850 it was practically the exclusive eastern terminus on the river for the Santa Fe trade, 2 and a great outfitting point for Californian emigrants. The history of this border trade is full of picturesque colour. During the Civil War both Independence and Westport were the scene of battles; Kansas City escaped, but her trade went to Leavenworth, where it had the protection of an army post and a quiet frontier. After the war the railways came, taking away the traffic to Santa Fe, and other cities farther up the Missouri river took over the trade to its upper valley. In 1866 Kansas City was entered by the first railway from St Louis; 1867 saw the beginning of the packing industry; in 1869 a railway bridge across the Missouri assured it predominance over Leavenworth and St Joseph; and since that time save for a depression shortly after 1890, following a real-estate boom the material progress of the city has been remarkable; the population increased from 4418 in 1860 to 32,260 in 1870, 55.785 in 1880, and 132,716 in 1890.

See T. S. Case (ed.), History of Kansas City, Missouri (Syracuse, 1888) ; William Griffith, History of Kansas City (Kansas City, 1900) ; for industrial history, the Greater Kansas City Yearbook (1907 seq.); for all features of municipal interest, the Kansas City Annual {Kansas City, 1907 seq.), prepared for the Business Men's League.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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