What To Tell a Tourist— KCKS Vs KCMO
These are fightin’ words. “You from Kansas City? Which one?..” You will hear it when traveling, from an out of town family member, or from someone sitting next to you in a bar who is here 1) on business 2) attending a sporting event 3) just traveling themselves. There is an ingrained reflex to wince and try to explain your current address. Most folks will politely apologize and then if they are truly curious will ask the difference between. The purpose of this essay is not to debate the merits of either side of the state line, but to give You, the kind reader, a quick bit of history in order to respond in a polite and educated fashion. Cause that’s how we do it here in the Northernmost Southern City. KCK or KCMO.
Let’s run a few important numbers: Cue a video swirl of time travel and a soft appropriate frontier gavotte we arrive in
1718–The first european map of the region by the Frenchman Guillaume de L’Islenamed it “Petite Riviere des Cansez” after a local tribe. He got that name (and Missouri) from a French ex con Etienne de Veniard, Sieur de Bourgmont, who was hiding out at the river’s mouth illegally trapping fur and shacking up with his native wife. This marvelous debauchery attracted a few other like minded folks until around
1804–Lewis and Clark paddled by and figured it’d be a nice place for a fort. They stayed at what is now Kaw Point Riverfront Parkand mentioned to the French trappers who had spread out south of the present riverbanks (think West Bottoms, Argentine, Fairfax all the way east to Chouteau Trfkwy.) that they no longer held the deed to the property. It was called the village of Kansa. They were about to get some new neighbors; and by
1821–Missouri gets statehood. Since Kansas won’t be a state until 40 years later, nobody worried what else to call the village of Kansa. Kansas was still a territory and subject to the Missouri Compromise (also a mullet hairstyle). Although, if you can’t find anything else to talk about with your crazy uncle on Thanksgiving, talk about bad hair. Please feel free to do your own research.
1850–Jackson county incorporates the Town of Kansas.
1861–Kansas statehood and the new north/south stretch of state line cuts the burgeoning city in half.
1872–Wyandotte county incorporates Kansas City Kansas.
Okay, great history lesson. Will there be a quiz about KCMO and KCK? Will this be on the final? What do I tell a Tourist? Tell them this:
This town was here before the state line. We didn’t cross borders, the borders crossed us. And, French is KC’s first language….
And, we are all riverrats.
“Oh the river, knows your name
From the Brazos to the Wabash to the Seine
No two journeys are ever quite the same
Oh the river, she knows your name.”
— John Hiatt–