Special Project


KCUR wants to know more about how Kansas Citians divide themselves and come together in a bi-state metropolitan area. So we're asking the question: How do geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City?

Our extensive Beyond Our Borders project is intended to spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism.  We are exploring the history of four distinct lines - Troost Avenue, the State Line, the Wyandotte-Johnson county line, and the Missouri River - and how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what’s being done to bridge or dissolve them.

HOW YOU CAN CONTRIBUTE: Volunteer to host a community listening session with KCUR. We are looking for partners to help us run neighborhood forums that will fuel the stories for Beyond Our Borders. If you are interested in KCUR visiting your community or would like to help us coordinate one of these sessions, please email Ron Jones, KCUR community engagement director, at ron@kcur.org.

STORY IDEAS: If you have tips or story ideas for Beyond Our Borders, reach out to Laura Ziegler, community engagement reporter, lauraz@kcur.org, or Briana O’Higgins, digital content editor, at briana@kcur.org.

BE A PART OF THE DIALOGUE: Use the #KCborders hashtag on Twitter to ask us questions, share Beyond Our Borders stories with your networks, raise community concerns, tell us how we’re doing and suggest opportunities for coverage. We’re all ears.

FOLLOW THE CONVERSATION: Check back at kcur.org/beyondourborders for updates. Follow us on Twitter at @kcur and on Facebook to keep a pulse on the conversation.

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Cara Smith didn't move to Parkville, Missouri, for the Missouri River.

But that's why she stayed.

Caroline Kull / KCUR

Pull in to the tiny Nelle Belle’s diner (pronounced “nell-ee bells”) on U.S. Highway 69 in Claycomo any weekday morning, and you’re likely to find the parking lot packed.

Courtesy photo / Missouri Valley Special Collections -- Kansas City Public Library

What a lot of Kansas Citians love about Midtown is the historic character of the area.

Twenty-two distinct neighborhoods make up what Kansas Citians call Midtown, an area spanning from 31st to 55th streets, former KCUR news director Mary Jo Draper lays out in her book, Kansas City's Midtown Neighborhoods.

Caroline Kull / KCUR

  The Kansas City Council has endorsed a plan to make part of Troost Avenue more neighborhood friendly.

The plan, which received unanimous approval Thursday, lays out a set of design standards for commercial and residential development along the corridor — from 22nd Street to Brush Creek Boulevard.

Most Kansas Citians have heard of Claycomo — officially called The Village of Claycomo — but how much do we really know about it? The mayor of Claycomo tells us more about his village — and dispels some myths.

Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Kansas Citians have no shortage of players to root for in baseball’s All-Star game.

Of course, six Royals players are in Cincinnati, but other teams are sending Kansas City talent, too.

Why Is Downtown Kansas City South Of The River?

Jul 10, 2015
Vincent Parsons / Flickr--CC

There’s something pretty obvious about how the Missouri River divides Kansas City: All the tall buildings are on one side of the river. It seems downtown Kansas City is firmly entrenched on the south side of the river. But … why?

Courtesy photo / Village of Claycomo

Last week, Jim Stoufer went to the Walmart in Liberty at 1 a.m.

He had just gotten off his shift at the Ford Motor Co.’s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo. The plant had closed for the week for its annual summer maintenance, and local businesses were feeling the effect.

Regional Group Will Study Kansas City-Area Police Pursuits

Jul 9, 2015
Courtesy photo / Leawood Police Department

 

A regional planning group says it will wade into the issue of conflicting police pursuit policies in the Kansas City area.

The decision by  the Mid America Regional Council to study the issue comes in response to an in-depth look at area police pursuits published Sunday by the Hale Center for Journalism and The Kansas City Star.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

We’re learning a lot about the Northland in Kansas City.

But we know you know more.

As KCUR continues its look at the Missouri River as a dividing line in Kansas City — part of our Beyond Our Borders project — we’re posting photos of life north of the river on a new Tumblr site called Northland Exposure.

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

The Northland. Kansas City north. Northtown (also spelled Northtowne in some cases.)

Whatever you call the part of the Kansas City metropolitan area north of the Missouri River, we wanted to know more about its boundaries. But the answer is a little muddy.

Leawood Police Department

High-speed car chases are familiar scenes in movies and on TV — cop cars flying down the streets and highways with their sirens blaring, trying to keep criminals from getting away. But what many don’t realize is that in real life police pursuits are dangerous, and often end in crashes or — in the worst cases — death.

Caroline Kull / KCUR

Updated, 10:50 a.m. Friday:   

A proposal to reduce blight along the Troost Avenue corridor in Kansas City has received initial approval from the City Plan Commission.

 

Commissioners backed the plan in a unanimous vote Wednesday, sending the plan to the Planning and Zoning Committee for review on July 15.

 

The original post continues below:

 

Julie Denesha / KCUR

It's a big week for the Broadway Bridge – expect lane closures and delays as inspectors check the safety of the 60-year-old structure.

“The paint looks OK on Broadway, but when you really get in your bucket truck and you hang over the edge and start looking underneath, there is a lot of deterioration, a lot of areas — they call it section loss,” says Brian Kidwell, assistant Kansas City district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Two years ago, inspectors found problems — big ones — that necessitated closing the bridge for repairs.

Julia Szabo / KCUR

In the next couple of years, Kansas education will face some of its most unstable times ever.

The Legislature has cut classroom funding. There’s no school finance formula and the the whole system may be thrown into chaos depending on what the state Supreme Court does.

All of this is all taking a toll on recruiting and retaining teachers, and there's mounting evidence that Kansas teachers are becoming disenchanted. And out-of-state districts are taking advantage.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

It doesn’t take long to drive a car across the Missouri River.

Depending on traffic, the roughly half-mile trek can take just one minute. But if you don’t have a car, the Missouri River can seem like a much larger obstacle.

According to the U.S. Census, about 84 percent of the Kansas City metro population drives alone to work. That leaves the other 16 percent commuting by other means, like carpooling, public transit, walking, biking or just working from home.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

As KCUR begins an exploration of how the Missouri River unites and divides the Kansas City metro, we must first consider our unique congregation of bridges. There are 10 of them, if you include the highways. Thirteen if you count the rail tracks that go over the river. And each one — though probably many people can't identify them by name — offers a unique perspective and connection for travelers.

As part of the Beyond Our Borders project, we'll soon take a look at the current state of the bridges and how we use them. But for now, we offer a little bit of history.

Caroline Kull / KCUR

More than half of Kansas City —  51 percent — is located north of the Missouri River, in the area widely referred to as the Northland.

Standing in Berkley Riverfront Park looking across the Missouri River, the Northland is just a stone’s throw away. Yet from south of the river, the Northland can feel like another city altogether.

To figure out why, I spoke with people both close to and far from the Missouri — in the River Market area near downtown Kansas City and at Oak Park Mall across the state line in Overland Park, Kansas.

The DLC / Flickr-CC

Whether you're craving Malaysian almond chicken, French duck confit or even hot dog fried rice, head north of the Missouri River — the Northland has become a dining destination.

James Lee / Flickr-CC

Go north!

Hardly subtle, I know, but without action, you could miss out on what there is to do this weekend north of the Missouri River, which can be misperceived as a boundary instead of the bridge it is to the Northland’s significant entertainment, family attractions and natural charms.

So get some northern exposure this weekend. The all-embracing go-and-doer in you will appreciate it.

1. Parkville River Jam

Kansas Citians often overlook destinations north of the Missouri River when thinking about where to dine. Hear Northland restaurant recommendations from our listeners and food critic Charles Ferruzza. 

Guests:

  • Charles Ferruzza, The Pitch
  • Alyson Raletz, social media editor, KCUR
KCUR

KCUR is northbound. And we need your help.

For the next few months in our Beyond Our Borders project, we're turning our attention to one of Kansas City's most prominent dividers — the Missouri River, which separates the Northland from the urban core.

As we begin to take our reporting across the river, we want to know more about why you already cross it.

Tell KCUR: What's your favorite thing to do north of the Missouri River? 

Kansas City was founded as a Missouri River port, but we've come a long way from our waterway roots. Take Turkey Creek — it flows through Kansas City, Kansas by Southwest Boulevard (and makes for a scenic stop at Merriam's Waterfall Park), but few people know it's there. We talk to three local residents who use art to take a new look at our waterways.

Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

The Missouri River's nickname, which evokes a wide current of mud, misses its aesthetic potential. Its most famous admirer may be the Missouri painter George Caleb Bingham.

Maria Carter / KCUR

Talking about the Johnson and Wyandotte County border in Kansas for the past few months literally has hit close to home for me — I live just a few blocks north of the county line in Wyandotte. As I found out since moving there, I'm closer to home than I realized.

I never really thought I’d live in Kansas. I grew up a Missourian. My parents fled the Johnson County suburbs for the Missouri Ozarks after I was born.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

If you ask almost anyone from the community of Argentine in Kansas City, Kansas what to see in their neighborhood, they’ll tell you to go see the mural.

The landmark that stretches across a block of Metropolitan Avenue is a point of pride for the residents — it’s only been tagged with graffiti twice since it was painted 17 years ago.

Brent Flanders / Flickr--CC

Of all Sporting Kansas City’s season ticket holders, there are eight times more Johnson County residents than Wyandotte County residents — even though Sporting Park sits in Wyandotte County's largest city, Kansas City, Kansas.

In the breakdown of Sporting KC’s season ticket holders, fans with Wyandotte County addresses account for only 4.5 percent, which ranks fourth among the counties in Kansas City’s metropolitan area.

courtesy: Michael Schmidt and Andrew Smith

The roughly 1.5 miles between the Crossroads Arts District and 18th and Vine in Kansas City, Missouri, is not a lot of things.

It’s not a destination. It’s not a gathering place. It’s not particularly pedestrian or bike friendly. It’s not visually appealing. But what the 18th Street corridor does have going for it is a little momentum, in part due to conversations sparked by two college students.

Maria Carter / KCUR

Development, even redevelopment, isn’t unusual in the Kansas City area, but concrete examples of successfully working across state or county borders to do that are harder to come by. Yet that’s what happening at the district surrounding 47th and Mission.

Katie Brady / Flickr--CC

Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, is in its fifth season as the home of Sporting Kansas City in Major League Soccer. For the money spent on what is regarded as one of the best soccer venues in the country, very little so far has been invested in Wyandotte County for youth soccer.

But changes are taking place.

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