1. The National WWI Museum and Memorial houses the world’s second-largest collection of World War I artifacts behind Britain’s Imperial War Museum. Liberty Memorial, the 217-foot-tall tower that overlooks Downtown KC, was funded in 1919 by more than 83,000 contributors, who raised $2.5 million in just 10 days. Constructed was completed in 1926 and the museum was officially designated in 2014 as the national museum for remembering the Great War.
2. At least four different U.S. presidents have dined at the original Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque. Harry S. Truman—a KC native whose presidential library is in Independence, Mo.—was considered a regular because he visited so often.
3. Modeled after Seville, Spain, the Country Club Plaza opened in 1922 as the nation’s first outdoor shopping district. That distinct architecture is still on display today, adding old-world flair to the Heart of America.
4. The Santa Fe, California and Oregon trails originated in the KC metro, a tradition celebrated annually at the Santa-Cali-Gon Days festival and memorialized daily at the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence, Mo.
5. KC “ignored” Prohibition during the 1920s, leading to an abundance of jazz clubs, brothels and gambling halls. KC even earned the moniker “The Paris of the Plains” after one journalist wrote, “If you want to see some sin, forget Paris and head to Kansas City.” Local jazz lives on today at establishments like The Blue Room, the Mutual Musicians Foundation, the Green Lady Lounge and more.
6. The Kansas City Monarchs played baseball in the Negro National League, where they won an unprecedented 10 league championships and the Negro League World Series in 1924 and 1942. After Monarch Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 by joining the Brooklyn Dodgers, the club would go on to send more Negro Leagues players to the MLB than any other team, including other all-time greats Satchel Paige and Ernie Banks. The story and spirit of the Monarchs and other Negro Leagues teams are celebrated at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District.
7. Opened in 1933, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a free-to-visit testament to Kansas City’s creative culture—and features more than 35,000 works encompassing 5,000-plus years of human history
8. The now-iconic Scout statue that overlooks Downtown KC originally made its debut as a temporary exhibit. Kansas Citians took such a liking to the work—which depicts a Sioux scout on horseback—that citizens pooled together $15,000 to purchase and permanently install the piece in Penn Valley Park. It’s resided there since 1921 and serves as a tribute to local Native American tribes.
9. Opened in 1949 in the Kansas City Livestock Exchange Building, The Golden Ox restaurant is credited with inventing the KC strip steak—otherwise known as the “New York Strip”—and was frequented by both Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The restaurant lives on today in the hip West Bottoms district as a reimagined ode to its glorious past.
10. Walt Disney opened his first animation company, Laugh-O-Gram Studio, in Kansas City, where he fed a small rodent that became the inspiration for Mickey Mouse.
11. Hallmark, the largest greeting card maker in the world, was founded in KC in 1910 when J.C. Hall began selling postcards out of two shoeboxes at the local YMCA. Today, Hallmark still calls Kansas City home, and travelers can experience the magic of the company through interactive displays and exhibits at the Hallmark Visitors Center in Crown Center.