Near the beginning of the Oregon Trail, at Independence, Missouri, it was nice to take in a couple of neighbourhoods of Kansas City. A place of BBQs and a place of Jazz. A great sprawling city of districts and suburbs. A day is nowhere near long enough to delve in properly but I was damn sure I would as much as possible. It was walking shoes on time and some hours to take in two varying areas, the Plaza and Westport, In all there are apparently well over 200 neighborhoods! We have already shown a taste of the wonderful food here when we took in the great dining experience at The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange.
Why is Kansas City in the state of Missouri, not Kansas that is further to the west? The place came first, as a port on the Missouri river, simply called Kansas (1830s). It was settled at the frontier as a perfect spot in the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers. As settlements moved west the territories formed to the west too. Kansas territory was born in 1854. This of course caused much confusion so the city in Missouri became Kansas City to differentiate.
First stop was the Plaza district. If you like your fine shopping then this seemed the place to do it. Car parks a plenty (all free), wide open pavements, tree lined roads, and even though probably busy it was very far from feeling busy. In fact the Country Club Plaza was the first shopping centre in the world that was designed to accommodate people to arrive by car! Full of Spanish (actually Seville) influenced architecture with statues great and small.
One thing I did notice around the city is that no matter where you go there always seemed to be the sound of the saxophone or piano emanating from buildings. The buskers in the streets here were delightful too. Great sounds and vibe.
Now then, the next area was completely different again, Westport. The original and main entertainment district. In fact Westport used to be a place in its own right, settled first in 1831 and taken in as part of the newer Kansas City in 1857. The oldest area but very much a vibrant area. It was a joy to wander the streets, catching the mix of the old and new.
You could see almost immediately that Westport had the lot. Dining, bars, nightlife, coffee shops, quirky architecture and full of social entertainment to suit all tastes. It was here in fact I met up with a dear friend I have known from Twitter for many many years, Shelly Kramer.
The street photographers amongst you would love this place I am sure. Thousands of miles from home I still managed to randomly bump into an old British style red telephone box 🙂
And… yes the stereotypical American street marketing style was very much in evidence.. gotta smile at the style window ads…… 🙂
A great day, and wish I could see more, in fact that is a mission now. A return to Kansas City, my appetite is wet.