Elements of Urbanism: Kansas City, KS

October 21, 2010 14 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Kansas City, Kansas is the third largest city in the Kansas City, Missouri metropolitan area.

Tale of the Tape:

Kansas City Population 2009: 143,209 (City); 2,053,928 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1886)

Jacksonville Pop. 2009: 813,518 (City); 1,328,144 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Kansas City (129,553)

City Land Area

Kansas City: 124.3 square miles
Jacksonville: 757.7 square miles

Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2000-2009)

Kansas City: +12.61%
Jacksonville: +18.29%

Urban Area Population (2000 census)

Kansas City: 1,361,744 (ranked 29 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 882,295 (ranked 43 nationwide)

Urban Area Population Density (2000 census)

Kansas City: 2,330.1
Jacksonville: 2,149.2

City Population Growth from 2000 to 2008

Kansas City: -3,657
Jacksonville: +72,312

Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Kansas City: Jack Reardon Civic Center (19--) - 20,000 square feet
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1985) - 78,500 square feet

Connected to Convention Center:

Kansas City: Hilton Garden Inn (150 units)  
Jacksonville: N/A

Tallest Building:

Kansas City: Wyandotte Towers - 176 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet


Fortune 500 companies 2009 (City limits only):

Kansas City: N/A
Jacksonville: CSX (259), Winn-Dixie (306), Fidelity National Financial (366)


Urban infill obstacles:

Kansas City: Downtown is surrounded by a complete loop of expressways.
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off Downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.


Downtown Nightlife:

Kansas City: N/A
Jacksonville: East Bay Street


Common Downtown Albatross:

Surface parking lots.

Who's Downtown is more walkable?

Kansas City: 77 out of 100, according to walkscore.com, downtown Kansas City, KS as keyword
Jacksonville: 88 out of 100, according to walkscore.com

Visual Information

Green = Jacksonville's city limits (current urban core) before consolidation in 1968
Red = Jacksonville's current consolidated city-county limits

Jacksonville's current (Red) and original (Green) city limit boundaries over Kansas City, Kansas' (Purple) and Kansas City, Missouri's (blue) city limits.

About Kansas City

Kansas City is the third-largest city in Kansas, behind Wichita and Overland Park.  The city was once the second largest meat packing industry in the world, second only to Chicago.  The opening of the Kansas City Stockyards by the railroads catapulted the city into an important shipping point for many goods and services.  After three decades of decline, Kansas City, KS is making a comeback after voters approved the consolidation of city and county governments in 1997.  Today, the city has diversified into a transportation, medical, and manufacturing center.

The present City of Kansas City, Kansas, formed in 1886, is composed of several communities that began as independent settlements. In that year, the cities of Wyandotte (incorporated in 1859, the oldest and by far the largest of the three cities), old Kansas City, Kansas (incorporated in 1872), and Armourdale (incorporated 1882), were consolidated by an act of the state legislature to form a new city that the governor chose to name Kansas City, Kansas. Argentine (incorporated in 1882) was consolidated with the city in 1909, and Rosedale (incorporated 1877) was consolidated with the city in 1922. Three major annexations, in 1965-66, 1972 and 1991 moved the western city limits from 38th Street to the Leavenworth County line, virtually eliminated unincorporated Wyandotte County.

In 1997, with voter's approval, the City and the County governments were consolidated to form the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas.  Kansas City, Kansas makes up about 93% of the Wyandotte County's population and takes up about four-fifths of the county's land area.  There are two other cities in Wyandotte County - Edwardsville, Bonner Springs, and a small portion of Lake Quivira. These communities have their own planning commissions, master plans and zoning ordinances, and do not share that function with the Unified Government.

Industry has always been important to Wyandotte County, starting with the westward expansion of railroads in the region in the 1860s. Development of the stockyards and related meat-packing industry followed in the early 1870s. By the early 1900s, several major meat-packing plants had been established near the banks of the Kansas River. Many immigrants throughout the world came here to work in the packing plants and other industries.  Today, the largest employers in Kansas City, Kansas are the University of Kansas Medical Center and General Motors, which has a plant in the Fairfax Industrial District. The new Village West tourism district is at I-435 and I-70 in western Wyandotte County. It includes Nebraska Furniture Mart, Cabela's, Community America Ballpark, home of the Kansas City T-Bones, hotels, and numerous restaurants. The Legends at Village West, a large-scale retail center, is home to restaurants and regional attractions.

Over the past 150 years, Kansas City, Kansas has developed into a large municipality with a rich ethic mix. Kansas City has the affluent and the poor, new suburban areas and older neighborhoods. There are challenges and issues that require deliberation, but at the same time many opporunities to explore.
Source: July 2008 Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas City-Wide Master Plan

The 203,475-square-foot Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 7 headquarters is at 901 N. Fifth St. in Kansas City, Kan.  With 700 employees, its one of the largest employers in downtown Kansas City, KS.

Minnesota Avenue is downtown Kansas City's historic main commercial thoroughfare.

Kansas City, Kansas Quick Facts

•Kansas City is the third largest city in the state of Kansas

•Kansas City is the third largest city in the Kansas City, Metropolitan Area. Kansas City, Missouri is the largest city.

•Nicknames: Heart of America, KCK, The Dot

•In 1997, voters unanimously approved to consolidate the city and county governments. Thus the name Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas

•Form of government is Mayor/CEO

•The city is part of the “Unified Government”, which also includes the cities of Bonner Springs and Edwardsville.

•Formed in 1868, the City of Kansas City, Kansas has a population of 142,562 according to the 2008 Census Bureau.

•The July 1, 2008 population estimate for Wyandotte County is 154,287

•The city covers a total area of 127.8 square miles with 3.5 square miles consisting of water

•The metro area is the home to nearly 2 million residents covering 2 states, 9 counties, 120 cities, and 4,423 square miles

•Kansas City is 740 ft above sea level

•Kansas City’s latitude is 39 degrees  24 minutes north and its longitude is 94 degrees 40 minutes west

•Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas is situated at the Kaw Point, which is the junction of the Missouri and Kansas rivers

•Kansas City is close to two airport systems. The Kansas City International Airport and the Downtown Airport

•Kansas City is home to the General Motors Fairfax plant, which manufactures the Chevrolet Malibu and Saturn Aura

•Kansas City is very diverse and multiracial community.

•Kansas City’s neighboring counties are Johnson and Leavenworth counties in Kansas. Clay, Jackson, and Platte counties in Missouri

•Kansas City is the only city in the metro area that has three bus services running through its community

•Kansas City owes its existence to its location as a crossroads. It was at the confluence of the Missouri River and Kansas River and the launching point for travelers on the Sante Fe, Oregon, and California trails.

•Kansas and Missouri were the first states to start building interstates with Interstate 70. An ever increasing number of interstate loops has encouraged suburban sprawl.

•Major highways are Interstate 35, Interstate 70, Interstate 435, Interstate 635, Interstate 670, US-24 and US –40, K-7 and K-32


Open 24 hours, the pint sized 7th Street Casino offers live Las Vegas style entertainment in the heart of downtown.  The 20,000 square foot gaming center includes 500 slots, three restaurants and bars.

One McDowell Plaza is the city hall of the Unified Government.

The Wyandotte County Courthouse

Article by Ennis Davis