From humble beginnings as a trading post in 1821 (see our history), Kansas City has become the largest city in a metropolitan area of 1.8 million people. Kansas City, Mo., is the nation's 36th largest city in population (441,500) and the 13th largest in land area (317 square miles). Located near the geographic and populations centers of the nation, it truly is the "Heart of America."
The metro area straddles the Missouri-Kansas state line and includes more than 136 cities and 11 counties. Kansas City, Mo., itself takes in parts of four counties -- Jackson, Platte, Clay and Cass -- not to mention all or part of 15 school districts.
Kansas City boasts more fountains than any other city except Rome and more boulevards than any city except Paris. Its 1,769-acre Swope Park is one of the largest urban parks in America. However, Kansas City is perhaps best known for its steaks, barbecue and jazz. With more than 60 barbecue restaurants and numerous cookoff competitions, it is arguably the nation's barbecue capital. Kansas City became a hotbed of jazz shortly after World War I in the now-famous area around 18th & Vine. Jazz is undergoing a renaissance here, a factor in the new Kansas City Jazz Museum, a complex that also includes a new Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
Kansas City is the hometown headquarters of Hallmark Cards, U.S. Sprint, Farmland Industries, Hoechst Marion Roussel Pharmaceuticals, Russell Stover Candies, Yellow Freight, H&R Block, the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints, the Nazarene Church, Unity School of Christianity, Interstate Bakeries, AMC Theaters, American Century and numerous other businesses.
It ranks first in inland foreign trade zone space, underground storage space, greeting card publishing, frozen food storage and distribution, and hard winter wheat marketing. It ranks second in wheat flour production and the size of its rail center. Both General Motors and Ford have major plants here, ranking Kansas City eighth in the nation in auto assembly. The city is also home to a Harley Davidson motorcycle plant.
The city is a major transportation hub. About 400 flights a day come and go from Kansas City International Airport, where the maximum distance from aircraft to curb is less than 75 feet. Eleven regulated barge lines transport goods through Kansas City on the Missouri River. KC is one of only five U.S. cities with three intersecting interstate highways (I-70, I-29 and I-35). The city's rail system carries 300 daily freight arrivals and departures.