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Established as a trading post in 1821, Kansas City served as the starting point for wagon trains heading over the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon trails and later emerged as the nation's center for cattle stockyards and slaughterhouses.

Today, greater Kansas City is a sprawling metropolis of 1.8 million straddling the Kansas-Missouri state line. Yet it retains something of a small-town atmosphere, with tree-lined boulevards and a large number of parks spread over gently rolling hills. Need further incentive to visit? Kansas City is famous for its steaks, barbecue, jazz, rich frontier history, and unique attractions.

Kansas City bills itself as the "Heart of America." Within 250 mi of both the geographic and population centers of the nation, the city is famous for its stockyards, saxophone player Charlie "Bird" Parker and his Kansas City-style bebop, and some of the best barbecue in the world. The city has more boulevards than Paris and more working fountains (200) than any city but Rome. A fountain of some sort is incorporated into the design of nearly every commercial building, giving Kansas City its second nickname: "The City of Fountains."

Established as a fur trading post in 1821, Kansas City played a major role in American history as a gateway for pioneers heading west along the Oregon, California, and Santa Fe trails. In the mid-1800s, settlers, missionaries, and traders began their overland journeys here or from nearby Independence and Westport.

Several Civil War battles were fought here, and the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S Truman, began his political career here. Jazz musicians Charlie Parker and Duke Ellington played in the nightclubs of the 18th and Vine District, Walt Disney first sketched Mickey Mouse in a Kansas City garage, and Joyce Hall (cofounder of Hallmark Cards) made his first greeting card here.
The Country Club Plaza (finished in 1922) is one of the first U.S. shopping malls, and the renovated Union Station contains a science museum and other attractions. Among its educational institutions are the Univ. of Missouri-Kansas City, Avila College, Park College, Rockhurst College, Kansas City Art Institute, a college of osteopathy and surgery, a music conservatory, and theological schools. The city has a symphony orchestra and several theaters.

The Kansas City Star was founded (1880) by William Rockhill Nelson and headed by him until 1915. The Kansas City Royals (baseball) and the Kansas City Chiefs (football) are the major sports teams, and the Kansas Speedway and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum are located here. Kansas City has long been noted for its music, particularly jazz and swing, popular there since the 1930s. Kansas City holds various jazz and blues festivals and is home to a jazz museum.

Vibrant and diverse, Kansas City maintains a healthy mix of art and agriculture, sports and technology, cowboys and haute couture.

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