Same Name, Two Very Different Cities As Day to Day prepares for its three-day visit to Kansas City, Alex Chadwick poses the question, "Am I in Kansas or in Missouri?" Turns out, a little of both ... and the two are different.
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Same Name, Two Very Different Cities

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Same Name, Two Very Different Cities

Same Name, Two Very Different Cities

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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BRAND: Kansas City, there are actually two Kansas cities, right?

CHADWICK: Exactly. And, you know, it's Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas. Technically, we're going to be on the Missouri side broadcasting from this old train station, Union Station, but there are two Kansas cities right next to each other. I was here a couple of weeks ago. I took a drive with a local realtor. Her name is Judy Johns(ph). Here's something from that moment.

And right now, we are in which one?

Ms. JUDY JOHNS (Local Realtor): Right now, we are in Missouri. In about two seconds, Alex, we are going to be - I'm going to be in Kansas and you're going to be in Missouri as we drive down the middle of the road state line. Isn't that cool?

CHADWICK: Yes. We were driving down the middle of the road.

BRAND: Go watch it, Alex. Did you get an accident?

CHADWICK: You can't do that act for very long.

Okay. Actually, I could not see any line. But maybe after you live here for a while, you can, because these differences do emerge as they do in any communities that live beside each other. So here are communities with the same name that live beside each other.

And we asked our friends at KCUR for guidance on this. Kansas City, Kansas, versus Kansas City, Missouri. Here's their reporter Sylvia Maria Gross.

SYLVIA MARIA GROSS: Perhaps the question was best asked in the 1933 W.C. Fields film "International House."

(Soundbite of movie, "International House")

Mr. W.C. FIELDS (Actor): (As Prof. Henry R. Quail) Is Kansas City, Kansas, or Kansas City, Missouri?

GROSS: Fields' (unintelligible) has piloted his helicopter somewhere into China.

(Soundbite of movie, "International House")

Unidentified Man #1: Maybe you're lost.

Mr. FIELDS: (As Prof. Henry R. Quail) Kansas City is lost. I am here.

GROSS: People around here take the distinction very seriously. I realized how seriously when covering a public forum of candidates for superintendent of the Kansas City Missouri schools.

One woman in a red suit kept saying how much she'd like to work in Kansas, until the crowd couldn't take it any more.

Unidentified Woman: Kansas City.

Unidentified Man #2: Missouri.

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. CY BROWN(ph) (Financial Planner): People want you to know that, oh, I'm from Kansas City, Kansas. Or they want you to know I'm from Kansas City, Missouri.

GROSS: Cy Brown is a financial planner originally from Little Rock, Arkansas. These days, he's based in Kansas but has clients from both states.

Mr. BROWN: The Missouri side is a little more or pretend or intend to be a little more upscale than the Kansan side because they are more laidback over here and more rural, at-home type, go to sleep and lock your door at night.

GROSS: KCK and KCMO, as they're known, are part of the same metropolitan area - just separated by a river and a road called State Line. In the course of a day's business, you might cross back and forth several times. Then there are folks like Jack Dinkle(ph) of Kansas who avoid Missouri at all costs.

Mr. JACK DINKLE (Resident, Kansas): Very so because I hate that. You have fight to park. And one way this way and then you get to road - I very seldom.

GROSS: I've heard a probably apocryphal story about a Kansas girl whose father wouldn't let her move just a few blocks across state line. He said she would get raped. Maybe extreme, but it speaks of the distrust which goes back a long way.

State Line Road separates KCK and KCMO for about 20 blocks. It's just a regular

two-lane street. On the Missouri side, there's a dive bar called Twin City Tavern. It's been there since the 1930s, when KCMO openly flouted prohibition.

(Soundbite of crowd)

GROSS: Everyone seems to know each other here. And they come from both sides. Tom Pretzel(ph) grew up in Missouri.

Mr. TOM PRETZEL (Resident, Missouri): I mean, Kansas City is just a great place. I meet friendly people, honest people. But you don't want to stray too much farther from State Line if you're from Missouri, right? You know, jayhawkers are still out there.

GROSS: Tom's kidding, I think. But the rivalry goes all the way back to the Civil War when the State Line was the scene of bloody battles between the Jayhawks who wanted Kansas to be a free state and Missouri slave owners. There's a lot of other things that tell you where you are. KCK has better public schools. KCMO has the museums, the major sports teams, the Chiefs and the Royals are in Missouri. But KCK now has a huge NASCAR track. Each side claims the superior barbecue.

But differences aside, there's one thing everyone in the two cities can agree on. They can't stand people from the ritzy suburbs.

For NPR News, I'm Sylvia Maria Gross.

BRAND: Just what I want to know, Alex. Is it Masorah(ph) or Mizuree(ph).

CHADWICK: An excellent question. And we're going to answer that this week when we broadcast from Kansas City - Madeleine, talk to you later.

BRAND: Talk to you then.

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