Beyond Our Borders - Missouri River

Credit Neil Nakahodo for KCUR

KCUR's extensive Beyond Our Borders project explores the history and impact of four distinct lines in Kansas City - Troost Avenue, the State Line, the Wyandotte-Johnson county line, and the Missouri River. For more than a year, we've been learning about how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what’s being done to bridge or dissolve them.

Here, you'll find work related to our ongoing examination of how the Missouri River unites and divides our community.

STORY IDEAS: This work doesn't end. 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, director of digital content, at briana@kcur.org.

Bill Tice

Gladstone residents are carrying out a citizen led strategic plan that will decide which city projects take priority for the next ten years.

The “Gladstone: Shaping Our Future” strategic planning process is unique in the metro area: it’s entirely led by the residents themselves.  

More than 100 volunteers met for over a year to brainstorm the sort of projects they’d like to see carried out in their community. Thursday night, a ten member committee started choosing which ones will make the cut.

Among the volunteers, Tina Spallo co-chairs the planning process.

A look at how bridges made Kansas City, from the Hannibal Bridge (the first one in town, built in 1869), to the most recent one that just opened on Grand Boulevard.

Plus: America was once home to some of the most diverse collection of edible plants. Today, that diversity is a fraction of what it was. The story of a woman who is on a mission to change this.

Guests:

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City's Woodswether Terminal on the Missouri River has seen the last of its barge traffic for the year. Port KC reopened the public port in 2015 (it closed in 2007), and it looks as if 2016 has been a successful year.

The Army Corps of Engineers only guarantees enough water for navigation from April 1 to the end of November. Last year was an unseasonably warm winter, so the Woodswether Terminal had cargo moving in and out by barge as early as February. 

Courtesy of Craig Jones

Where do you get your hard-shell taco? You know, the kind that's filled with seasoned ground beef, shredded lettuce and cheese and a soupy red sauce?

Well, for some Kansas Citians, it depends on where you grew up.

According to Craig Jones, In-A-Tub is a Northland tradition.

"For a lot of people that grew up north of the river, that was their first foray into Mexican food," he told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Last week's election left one notorious glass ceiling intact. So what does that mean for local women, and women in government?

Plus, it's National Day of Action against the Dakota Access Pipeline. How might the proposed North Dakota pipeline impact our indigenous communities, and general populous, here in Kansas City?

Guests:

The DLC / Flickr -- CC

Seasoned ground beef, lettuce and shredded cheese in a crunchy shell. Or braised and shredded pork wrapped in a soft corn or flour tortilla and topped with cilantro, diced onions and salsa. Whichever kind you grew up on, there's a taco for everyone in KC.

On KCUR's Central Standard, our Food Critics searched out the best tacos in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

The hard-shell taco as comfort food at beloved local institutions In-A-Tub and Taco Via, then the executive chef of a Mexican fusion restaurant on putting new twists on traditional recipes and ingredients.

Plus, KCUR's Food Critics search out the best tacos in and around KC.

Guests:

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

To cheers from an enthusiastic crowd, the full Kansas City council unanimously approved a resolution in opposition to the construction of the planned Dakota Access Pipeline.

Various groups in Kansas City have joined protests across the country in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has led a movement against the construction of the pipeline on native lands. 

Courtesy Wide Awake Films

The Missouri painter George Caleb Bingham is already famous enough to have his work in the National Gallery of Art, as well as many other esteemed institutions. But to his hometown of Arrow Rock, population 56, he could stand to be more famous.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

He’s an internationally-known food writer and photographer, an attorney and a former Congressional aide to Sam Brownback.

She’s the communications director at Planned Parenthood Great Plains, and her career has also included time as a competitive figure skater and as a local TV news anchor.

And they also happen to be siblings.

Islamic Center of Northland

A possible arson is being investigated at a mosque under construction in Kansas City.

Islamic Center of Northland leaders say they arrived at the site, near Barry road in Kansas City north, for a meeting early Saturday morning and discovered blackened interior walls. There was no serious damage reported. 

Kansas City police and a bomb squad responded. Police confirm that two burned bottles were found inside the building. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

They're a Northland brother and sister who have traveled the world — he as a food writer and photographer, she in a career that's included time as an Olympic figure skater and a local TV news anchor. We chat with Bonjwing and Bonyen Lee in a family Portrait Session show.

Guests:

Clarke Wyatt

Musicians Betse Ellis and Clarke Wyatt started playing as Betse & Clarke, a fiddle and banjo duo, in late 2014. Their latest album is called River Still Rise.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Hundreds of people, many of Native American heritage, gathered at Berkley Riverfront Park on Sunday to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  

They joined protesters across the country standing in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota. The tribe filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for violating the National Historic Preservation Act, after the agency issued final permits for a massive crude oil pipeline stretching from North Dakota to Illinois.

HDR, City of Kansas City

Northland council members were most skeptical, but all members of a joint City Council Committee seemed to agree  Thursday that a proposed city-wide transit-oriented development plan still needs more work.

First District Councilwoman Heather Hall seemed to sum up the concerns of her colleagues.

“First of all, it's too big to be effectively run by all the different components that we need to do; and it doesn't meet the needs of  every part of the city, but in fact the whole city will be responsible for all of it,” Hall told the group.

With large hail, rain and even one confirmed tornado sweeping through the Kansas City area Thursday, local Twitter users took to their cell phones with the hashtag #kswx to capture photos of the swirling, gray skies.

We put together a few highlights — or lowlights depending on your tolerance for storms — of the weather.

Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons

It's hard to escape the Missouri River's influence in Kansas City. Even if you don't live immediately next to its winding banks, it's tough to get around a river that cuts straight through the heart of the metro area. And you've no doubt heard the phrases "north of the river" and "Big Muddy" at least once.

Ian T. McFarland/Flickr -- CC

What should we do with the Missouri River and the land around it? From seeing more barges on the river to letting the area revert to nature, we dream big and explore the options.

Guests:

KCPT

When Kansas City needed help keeping a prestigious global architecture firm from leaving town last year, it reached out to an unlikely partner — the Port Authority of Kansas City.

The loss of the firm, Populous architecture, would have been a huge blow to Kansas City and its image. So the port authority swaggered up to the plate.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

This spring, there's new life on the Missouri River - and it's more than buds on trees or fish in the water. 

Barge traffic may be on the verge of a renaissance.

At least that's the hope of Port KC, which reopened the Woodswether terminal in the West Bottoms last year. The facility, currently the only public port operating on the river, is receiving barges for the first time since 2007. 

Over the course of his 70-year career, architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed about 1,100 skyscrapers, hotels, churches, museums, and homes. More than 500 of these were built, and seven are in Kansas and Missouri. 

In Missouri: 

Bott House (1956, built 1963)
3640 NW Briarcliff Road, Kansas City

This double-cantilever house perches on a bluff just north of downtown Kansas City, with dramatic views of the city and the Missouri River. It's in the Usonian style — a small, single-story home in an L-shape. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Briarcliff Hills, in Kansas City's Northland, is a neighborhood with spectacular views of the city and the Missouri River Valley. But the cars driving through on a recent Saturday morning at a snail’s pace aren’t here for that view. They’re eager to glimpse the private home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1957 for Frank and Eloise Bott.

For fans of the celebrated American architect, the Bott House is a sort of pilgrimage.

Centers For Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) moves high school juniors and seniors from the classroom to professional environments to learn. Hear how the program works and what it offers students.

Kansas City-native Sara Dykman just completed a 3,500 mile, 13-state adventure that took her and her crew from Glacier National Park, to a series of creeks and rivers, to the Missouri River and eventually to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico — all by canoe.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

By next school year, dozens of students in the North Kansas City School District will finally have a somewhat safer way to walk to school.

Students who live within blocks of Maplewood Elementary School on North Freemont Avenue have been bused to school for years because the district deemed the walk too dangerous.

IAS Partners

Once the driving retail force in Kansas City's Nothland, Metro North Mall has declined over the past 15 years. Now, its pitted asphalt parking lots have become storage space for vehicles produced at the Ford plant awaiting shipment.

Little remains of the past retail environment except a Macy's store. 

"Right now it's the definition of 'blight' because you have vacant buildings that are in a crumbling condition.  said Northland Councilman Dan Fowler. "I saw what happened when the same thing happened to Antioch Mall and it wasn't pretty.”

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

This story was rebroadcast as part of our best-of 2015 series. It was originally reported in September 2015.

The Missouri River shaped Kansas City.

It ferried traders and explorers. It helped establish Kansas City's reputation as a transportation hub.

Slaves escaped across the river, where some settled in the town of Old Quindaro in the Kansas Territory, soon to be Free Kansas.  

Sam Zeff / KCUR

It’s the kind of story that’s a little hard to believe until you visit the neighborhood.

Just after 8 a.m., a school bus stops on North Freemont Avenue and kids pile on.

They have their backpacks, lunches and homework. It all seems normal.

Except they only live a few blocks from the school and aren't allowed to walk.

It would take Jessica Andrews’ four kids about five minutes to walk to Maplewood Elementary School in the Northland. “We’re really, really close. Why aren't they walking, it’s so close? There’s no sidewalks. It’s not safe for them to walk."

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