|Kansas City is a city in the US state of Missouri
encompassing parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass as well as Platte
counties. It is situated at the junction of the Missouri and
Kansas Rivers (Kaw Point) and sits opposite Kansas City, Kansas.
It is the largest city in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the
most populous city in Missouri, the seventh largest city in the
Midwest, and the 40th most populous city in the United States.
As of 2005, the city had an estimated population of 444,965. The
city's tap water was recently rated the cleanest among the 50
largest cities in the United States, containing no detectable
impurities. Kansas City is also famous for having more
boulevards in the world than any city except Paris and more
fountains than any other city except Rome. Its abundance of
fountains and boulevards, plus the numerous flowers, statues,
trees, and other "objects of beautification" that are prevalent
throughout the city have made Kansas City be considered by many
to be one of the most beautiful cities in the United States.
Exploration and settlement
The first documented European visit to Kansas City was Étienne
de Veniard, Sieur de Bourgmont, who was also the first European
to explore the lower Missouri River. Criticized for his handling
of a Native American attack of Fort Detroit, he had deserted his
post as commander of the fort and was avoiding the French
authorities. Bourgmont lived with a Native American wife in the
Missouri village about 90 miles east near Brunswick, Missouri,
and illegally traded furs.
In order to clear his name, he wrote "Exact Description of
Louisiana, of Its Harbors, Lands and Rivers, and Names of the
Indian Tribes That Occupy It, and the Commerce and Advantages to
Be Derived There from for the Establishment of a Colony" in 1713
followed in 1714 by "The Route to Be Taken to Ascend the
Missouri River." In the documents he describes the junction of
the "Grande Riv[iere] des Cansez" and Missouri River, being the
first to refer to them by those names. French cartographer
Guillaume Delisle used the descriptions to make the first
reasonably accurate map of the area.
The Spanish took over the region in the Treaty of Paris (1763)
but were not to play a major role in the area other than taxing
and licensing all traffic on the Missouri River. The French
continued their fur trade on the river under Spanish license.
The Chouteau family operated under the Spanish license at St.
Louis in the lower Missouri Valley as early as 1765, but it
would be 1821 before the Chouteaus reached Kansas City, when
François Chouteau established Chouteau's Landing.
After the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark visited the
confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers, noting it was a
good place to build a fort.
Kansas City Scout StatueIn 1833 John McCoy established West Port
along the Santa Fe Trail, three miles away from the river. Then
in 1834, McCoy established Westport Landing on a bend in the
Missouri River to serve as a landing point for West Port. Soon
after, the Kansas Town Company, a group of investors, began to
settle the area, taking their name from an English spelling of "Cansez."
In 1850 the landing area was incorporated as the Town of Kansas.
By that time, the Town of Kansas, Westport, and nearby
Independence, had become critical points in America's westward
expansion. Three major trails -- the Santa Fe, California, and
Oregon -- all originated in Jackson County.
On February 22, 1853, the City of Kansas was created with a
newly elected mayor. It had an area of 0.98 square miles and a
population of 2,500. The boundary lines at that time extended
from the middle of the Missouri River south to what is now Ninth
Street, and from Bluff Street on the west to a point between
Holmes Road and Charlotte Street on the east.