As the largest city in Missouri, Kansas City, also abbreviated as KCMO, has a relatively quiet history compared with other Midwest cities. Only until the Civil War and slavery did Kansas City experience bloodshed. In today's times, Kansas City is world known for its barbecue and jazz music.
The first settlers of the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri river were a group of Mormons who established a settlement in the early 1800s. Before this early village, Louis and Clark passed through the area noting it was a "fine place for a fort." It was only in 1853 that Kansas City become an official incorporated city with an elected mayor. Slavery was an important issue for the townsfolk. Up until the Civil War, many men of the city would cross the Kansas-Missouri border in order to fix the vote in favor of slave-related issues. After intense fighting during the Civil War, KCMO grew very rapidly. During the 1900s, Kansas City was infamous for its "political machine." Lead by Tom Pendergast, corruption became the norm in city politics, with the Democratic Party quickly retaining control. By 1939, the machine had fallen apart when Pendergast pleaded guilty to tax evasion. Following World War II, the suburb trend reached KCMO, as many wealthy and middle-class residents fled to newly formed suburbs on the fringes of the city. As a result, the city itself saw a declining population, while the overall metro population continued to grow. Disadvantaged minorities were faced with rising costs of living combined with the emergence of slums. In 1968, following the Dr. King assassination, Kansas City was part of over 30 cities that experienced rioting by black minorities.
Despite the tumbling history, Kansas City has built a large reputation for barbecue grilling and jazz music contributions. Sometimes considered the "World's BBQ Headquarters," Kansas City hosts over a hundred restaurants that specialize in BBQ style grilling. Almost all of these businesses can be found in the Kansas City yellow pages. Many jazz musicians such as Charlie Parker and Count Basie both played frequently in the city, helping to develop the Kansas City-jazz style. Despite its quiet history, Kansas City is full of life. With its barbecue grilling, it has become a top spot to showcase the latest in grilled meat. The city will also have an enduring legacy for jazz, with the unique style that can only be found there in the city.
Written by Lyndsey Morgan