Kansas City’s history is really a tale of two cities. Kansas City, Missouri was founded in 1853. And 20 years later, Kansas City, Kansas copied the name. Perhaps KCK wanted to capitalize on the growth of the Kansas City name. Kansas City, Missouri has three times the people, bragging rights to the Royals and the Chiefs, and is home to Hallmark Corporation. Across the state line, Kansas City, Kansas has the Kansas Speedway and the soccer team. What they both have in common though, is their barbecue. Kansas City is known for its signature sweet and spicy barbecue sauce and has the most BBQ joints in the country.
The name Kansas City comes from the river in the area. Most people came to the area during the westward expansion due to people looking for land to farm. It was one of the major points of settlement if people wanted to settle south of the Kansas River. The initial growth came to Kansas City when a bridge was built over the river, allowing the railroad to go directly through Kansas City as opposed to through other areas. It grew as a major livestock hub due to this as well. Manufacturing started to come into the area as a result of the cattle industry. There was more opportunity to make wealth in the area.
The population growth of Kansas City for a period of about twenty years was really quite astounding. As people started coming west, they saw that the city might be a good place to stop and plant some roots. Other musicians, primarily jazz, would come to Kansas City as well. The area around 18th and Vine is known as the Jazz District.
These days, Kansas City is considered a melting pot of the Midwest. Between 1890 and 1920, more than four million Italian immigrants came to the United States. Many fled religious persecution in search of the American Dream. By 1910, most of Kansas City’s 2,579 Italian-Americans lived in the North End. At that time, the area was known as ‘Little Italy.’
In the 1970’s, organized crime hit its peak. The who’s who of the Midwest was based in Kansas City, Missouri. The intense crime was primarily the reason that second and third generation Italian-Americans then went on to get their education and move to other areas. As Italian immigrants began to call for change in that area, they invited Vietnamese immigrants to the area to help with the urban renewal.
Now, Italian and Vietnamese businesses are thriving and are a critical part of the Kansas City economy.
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