Heart of America

Calling KC Home

If you spend more than 15 minutes in the Kansas City metro, one thing will become very apparent:  KC loves them some KC.  The pride that residents feel for their town (and the surrounding area) is truly palpable.  But what drives a collective populous to outfit in a sea of KC heart tees, wax poetic to outsiders, and root, root, root for the home team?  

Full disclosure: I wasn’t born in Missouri.  Or Kansas.  I spent my adolescence shuffling around various states and countries before finally settling down in the KC area, where I’ve remained the last 18 years.   

But what better person to assess this KC pride than an outsider turned insider?  Someone who can put “Paris of the Plains” in context because, well, they’ve been to Paris.  Having lived in the Midwest, overseas, and Canada, it was apparent that each of those places had a uniqueness and local camaraderie that stood out.  But no locale matched the self-fandom Kansas City possess, it’s rare.  It’s intoxicating.  To know Kansas City is to love her.  

But why do we adore our city so?  

Is it that we feel overlooked, underappreciated?  Viewed as a waystation to more cosmopolitan destinations?  The reasons are moot, and the fact is this: KC gleams like a diamond in the rough and tumble of middle America.  

Kansas City, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  

1. The Food

Newcomers won’t be surprised by the mouthwatering BBQ on every corner, but what will catch them off-guard is a culinary scene as versatile as Andy Reid’s offense.  James Beard-nominated chefs can be found in abundance and memorable meals blanket the Metro, no matter your budget.  

A fine--dining fanatic?  Farina, from famed Chef Michael Smith, serves up Italian chic in downtown KC. Out south, veteran staple Rye continues to set the standard, from mouthwatering fried chicken to top quality cuts of steak.  

Looking for more bang and less buck?  The Bite, located in River Market, serves up sandwiches which combine Mexican and Korean flavors that perfectly meld sweet & savory.  Find yourself in Lee’s Summit? Grab those chopsticks and head over to Mint Asian Café & Sushi.  With a focus on inventive presentation, a trip to Mint Asian is akin to an edible art gallery.   

2. The Lifestyle

You can’t tell the full story of Kansas City without including the larger KC metro, which includes 14 Missouri and Kansas counties.  There is a simplistic beauty to making your home in the region, from the enticing cost of living, to the minimal traffic (you can be anywhere in 20 minutes or less), to the clean surroundings and multitude of parks and trails.  In fact, parks were so important to famed KC architect George Kessler, he made them central to the city’s blueprint.  Residents have a multitude of lush options to take in, including Loose Park on the South Plaza, Swope Park (twice the size of Central Park in NYC) in KCMO, Meadowbrook Park in Prairie Village, Shawnee Mission Park, and Ironwoods Park in Leawood.  

3. The Professional Sports

Collectively, since 2013, the Chiefs, Royals and Sporting KC have 5 Championship game appearances and have done more for raising the profile of the city than anything else (Mahomes Mania has gone worldwide).  Our tailgating, loyalty, and passion are unmatched, and our stadiums are perfect reflections of the city.  The record-breaking decibels of Arrowhead, the timeless beauty of Kauffman Stadium, and the intimate masterpiece of Sporting Park.  In total, they are a personification of the complexity of Kansas City and the region.  These days, no one is underestimating us, on or off the field. 

4. The Architecture

While KC architecture is mostly known for its fountains, (more than any city but Paris -- over 200), you can make a case that our network of boulevards (more than any city but Rome – 135 miles worth) has a greater impact on our city’s identity.  The system, which snakes throughout the city, was designed to maintain the balance between the urban landscape, and nature, with the goal of keeping KC, a “city within a park”.

Cow town, this isn’t.  In fact, the metro has a host of architectural treasures from which to choose.  We’ve got timeless art deco downtown (KCP&L Building, Municipal Auditorium), beautiful revival style homes in Hyde Park and contemporary benchmarks (Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts) in Midtown.  Of particular interest is the Community of Christ Temple in Independence, MO.  This underseen stunner’s spire mirrors the shape of a nautilus shell and is guaranteed to take your breath away.  

5. The People

So, what makes a landlocked city in the heart of America so compelling to those that call it home?  

The answer is us.  An interconnected group of people that stretches across a river and two states. Yes, we love Kansas City because of the Chiefs and the Royals, because of the food, and because of the lifestyle it affords us, but what ties that love together is the real affection we have for one another.  We are all residents of what Kansas City represents: pride in ourselves.

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