40 Moments that shaped kansas city

By Dawnya Bartsch, David Hodes, Rachel Layton, Reece Parker, Ian Ritter and Hampton Stevens

We scoured the history books, took a look at the last 180 or so years of Kansas City history and cherry-picked the moments and movements that shaped the city we live in today. Some events called for instant celebration or quick action, others for somber reflection and disciplined planning, but each moment in time led us to where we find ourselves now.

1838: The Father of Kansas City

Photography courtesy of Kansas City Public Library

It is often said that John Calvin McCoy is the “father of Kansas City.” McCoy, who was born in Indiana in 1811, moved to the area with his Baptist missionary parents. As a young man, he built a two-story cabin in the area that served as a store and his home. He eventually christened it Westport because it was the last place travelers could get supplies before heading into the Territory of Kansas on the California, Santa Fe and Oregon trails.

McCoy built his store in the hills, four miles from the Missouri River and away from the floodplain. He established a dock at a rocky point that he called Westport Landing between Main and Grand streets. To get to the landing from his cabin, McCoy followed an established trail, which would eventually become Broadway.

In 1838, McCoy and several others pooled their resources and bought a large farm that surrounded most of the area, including the landing, so they could expand their fledgling community. They called it Kansas.

1850: The Town of Kansas

Photography courtesy of Kansas City Public Library

The growing town was incorporated as Kansas, Missouri, on June 3, 1850. It later became known as the City of Kansas in 1853.

1857: River Market

Photography courtesy of Kansas City Public Library

This area had been a business hub since the early 1820s, when early French fur traders used the area as a trading post. It later became Westport Landing and, later still, the City of Kansas, where the first city hall was located. It was officially christened the City Market in 1857. It was a bustling network of vendors, restaurants and food stalls, similar to how it is today.

1864: The Battle of Westport

Photography courtesy of Shutterstock

Union and Confederate soldiers clashed in a Westport battle that is often referred to as the “Gettysburg of the West” on Oct. 23. The battle ended the last major Confederate offensive west of the Mississippi, and for the rest of the war, Union forces remained in control of Missouri. The battle was one of the largest, with 30,000 soldiers battling it out.

As part of the strategy, a defensive line south of town along Brush Creek, perpendicular to the Kansas state line, was constructed. Missouri, a hotly contested border state, and the City of Kansas were firmly under Union control after their decisive victory.

1869: Hannibal Bridge

Photography courtesy of Kansas City Public Library

Construction of the Hannibal Bridge began shortly after the end of the Civil War and wrapped up in 1869. The bridge was the first permanent rail crossing of the Missouri River and helped establish the City of Kansas as a major city and rail center. The bridge was built for the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, hence its name. Its construction also spurred the development of the city’s first large train station, Union Depot, which was later severely damaged by a tornado.

1871: Cowtown

Photography courtesy of Kansas City Public Library

In 1871, just west of downtown, the Stockyards were established on the Kansas side of the Kansas River and along the railroad tracks. In 1878, the Stockyards were expanded from their original 13 acres to 55, adding loading docks on the railroad tracks and sheds for hogs and sheep and developing one of the largest horse, mule and cow markets in the country. KC’s Stockyards were second in size only to Chicago’s stockyards.

In 1889, the American Hereford Association hosted a cattle judging contest in a tent in the Stockyards. The event evolved into the annual American Royal, a two-month livestock festival, and the city’s moniker “cowtown” became ubiquitous.

1881: Massive Big Muddy Shift

Photography courtesy of Kansas City Public Library.

Perhaps one of the lesser known moments in the area’s history—but quite possibly the most important moment to truly shape the city—was the result of a large storm that swept through the area. Some 35 miles north of the city, a storm blew through, shifting the course of the Missouri River into an old Missouri River channel. This shift directed the Big Muddy about two miles away from the heart of Weston, where a dock and rail station sat, leaving behind a small channel for only a creek. The steam ships and paddle boats that had been stopping at Weston were diverted to the City of Kansas.

Before the storm, Weston was the second largest port on the river, surpassing both the City of Kansas and St. Joseph. At one point shortly after its founding, Weston claimed to be the second largest city in Missouri.

1889: A Tale of Two Cities

The modern day city of Kansas City officially formed when the cities of Westport and the City of Kansas decided to merge.

1896: Swope Park

Swope Park is named after Thomas H. Swope, a philanthropist who donated some 1,805 acres to the city in 1896 to create a grand park befitting a grand city. The park now houses the Kansas City Zoo, Starlight Theatre, soccer fields, baseball fields, a swimming complex, a golf course, botanical gardens, wooded areas and more.

1910: Rockhurst

The college received its official state charter in August 1910. The charter included the Academy of Rockhurst College and a secondary education school that later became Rockhurst High School. The schools sit on a 40-acre campus and serve as an integral part of civic life.

1914: Union Station

Photography courtesy of Kansas City Public Library

The now-iconic building, which has been the backdrop for everything from KC Symphony performances to the NFL draft, was built in 1914, replacing the small Union Depot that had been built about 40 years prior. In its heyday, its peak annual traffic was more than 670,000 passengers. However, the end of World War II ushered in the station’s passenger decline, and the station actually closed in 1985. At the time, some city leaders discussed demolishing the landmark building.

In 1996, a public-private partnership was created to reinvent the station, and three years later, it reopened with a suite of attractions, including museums, restaurants, a movie theater and a planetarium. In 2002, Amtrak deemed KC and the station a popular enough destination to make it a stop. Union Station is now the second largest train station in Missouri.

1921: World War I Memorial

Photography courtesy of Kansas City Public Library

Soon after World War I ended, a group of prominent Kansas Citians formed the Liberty Memorial Association to build a memorial honoring those who served in the First World War. The group held a groundbreaking ceremony in 1921. Landscape architect George Kessler designed the park and sweeping grounds that connect the memorial to Union Station. The grounds have served as a gathering place, almost like a town square, for many civic events.

1923: Country Club Plaza

Photography courtesy of Kansas City Public Library

Developer J.C. Nichols debuted the Country Club Plaza, the country’s first regional suburban shopping center, in 1923. The 55-acre site is about four miles south of downtown and is designed in a Baroque and Moorish Revival style, reminiscent of Seville, Spain. Also part of Nichols’ grand plan was the development of the Plaza’s surrounding neighborhoods—a collection of upscale apartments, homes and mansions, a country club and Loose Park.

Although there are many positive aspects to Nichols’ urban planning, there is also a dark side. Nichols is responsible for creating residential covenants that restricted many marginalized groups, including Black and Jewish people, from living in his planned communities.

1925: The Pendergast Era

Photography courtesy of Kansas City Public Library

From 1925 to 1939, Tom Pendergast, one of the country’s most corrupt political bosses, was an unelected city dealmaker and the leader of the Goat faction of the local Democratic Party. Therefore, many pin 1925 as the beginning of his reign. Under Boss Tom’s rule, Kansas City was the only major city in the states that largely ignored Prohibition. Pendergast was able to control City Hall for over a decade, running numerous businesses, both legal and otherwise, including his Ready Mixed Concrete Company and Riverside Park Jockey Club, an illegal race track.

1927: Kansas City's First Airport

Photography courtesy of Kansas City Public Library

A crowd of more than 25,000 people gathered in the sweltering August heat to attend the dedication that officially opened Kansas City’s first airport, the Municipal Airport (now the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport). Lou Holland, then-president of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, conceived the idea as something the city needed to build to stay current. Initially, city planner Henry McElroy dismissed the idea, as he believed flying was a trend that would soon go out of fashion. However, just two years later, McElroy conceded his belief, and Holland’s idea came to fruition.

1933: Kansas City Massacre

On June 17, 1933, outlaws Charles Floyd, Vernon Miller and Adam Richetti attempted to free fellow friend and felon Frank Nash while he was in custody and being escorted by police through Union Station. Nash, a prison escapee, had been apprehended after three years on the lam and was headed back to prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. Nash’s friends wanted to set him free once again.

As federal agents and local law enforcement attempted to escort Nash from a car outside the station, gunfire erupted, killing four officers as well as Nash. This mass attack, which came to be known as the Kansas City Massacre, highlighted the rising crime issues across the country at large.

1945: Harry Truman

Photography courtesy of Kansas City Public Library

Before his presidency, Harry Truman ran a small Kansas City haberdashery, but he set his sights on politics in the early 1920s. In 1922, with the aid of Tom Pendergast, Truman was elected as a county court judge in Jackson County, where he served until his election as a U.S. Senator for Missouri in 1934. Later, in 1945, Truman was elected U.S. vice president to Franklin D. Roosevelt. He served only 82 days before becoming president when FDR died while in office. Truman became the 33rd President of the United States on April 12, 1945. That same day, the Kansas City Star reported that “the former Missouri farm boy [has moved] into the highest office in this nation’s giving.” Truman’s presidency is most noted for the deployment of two atomic bombs on Japan in retaliation for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, abruptly ending WWII.

1946: Northland Annexation

With the rise of the suburbs and decentralization of Kansas City’s downtown power base, city officials decided they needed to take action to stop the declining tax base and halt urban decay. They decided Northland expansion across the Missouri River and into Clay County was the way to go.

It was not an easy maneuver, and there was much politicking involved. Many smaller Northland communities quickly started incorporating so as to not get gobbled up. Due to archaic voting rules, a wide swath of affected Clay County residents weren’t allowed to vote on what would directly affect them. After a fierce and heated election, the annexation of the Northland stalled with 39,978 yes votes to 37,920 no votes, falling more than 6,700 votes short of the three-fifths majority needed to win. Initially Northlanders thought they had won the battle. However, KC’s city manager L.P. Cookingham, who was hired explicitly to bring the city out of the corrupt Pendergrast years, wasn’t satisfied with the results. He took a deep dive into the law books to find the source of the three-fifths majority rule and eventually declared it didn’t exist. Although folks were initially dismissive of Cookingham’s claim, it turned out he was right. The three-fifths rule for annexation had been changed to a simple majority requirement in 1920 and had not been reenacted when the state constitution was amended in 1945.

1951: Great Flood

Days of heavy rains created flood conditions throughout the area that had devastating effects. Flood waters ran over from the Kansas River, and in some areas, water levels rose so high they reached rooftops. Nearly 15,000 people had to be evacuated. The flood devastated the Stockyards in the West Bottoms at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers, prompting cattle farmers to negotiate directly with buyers rather than at the Stockyard market. The Stockyards never fully recovered.

1955: Kansas City A’s

The Philadelphia Athletics became the Kansas City A’s on April 12, 1955. They weren’t the city’s first professional baseball team—other clubs, including the Monarchs, fit that bill. But they were the city’s first Major League Baseball franchise. Granted, they were often terrible and sometimes felt like a Yankees farm club, and the city had to deal with the madness of owner Charlie O. Finley. But getting a big-league ball club put Kansas city on the map in a way it hadn’t been before. When that club bolted for Oakland just 13 years later, the city gained the Royals as compensation.

1968: Riots

In response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and outrage at the slow pace of civil rights reform, protesters in Kansas City took to the streets in April 1968. The four days of civil unrest that followed brought KC’s underlying racial tensions to the surface. The riots left six people dead, hundreds arrested and several blocks of the city in flames.

1969: The Royals

After Charlie O. Finley moved the Athletics to Oakland, people felt robbed. Stuart Symington, then a senator from Missouri, was among those chasing a replacement team for the city. Another advocate was local businessman and philanthropist Ewing Kauffman. Kauffman, the polar opposite of Finley, was deeply committed to the city. On January 11, 1968, he was announced as the owner of a new team, the KC Royals. On April 8, 1969, the Royals played their first game.

1963: Dallas Texans Become the Chiefs

Photography courtesy of Kansas City Public Library

Lamar Hunt, the son of an oil tycoon, originally tried to get an NFL expansion team in Dallas. When that failed, he started a league of his own, the AFL, and awarded himself the Dallas Texans. The NFL responded by giving Dallas the expansion team that Hunt had wanted: the Cowboys.

Hunt knew he had to move. He explored Atlanta and Miami as possible sites, but KC’s then-mayor Harold Roe Bartle promised Hunt 35,000 season ticket holders. Bartle delivered by enlisting business leaders as “gold coats” to push tickets. It worked. The team moved. A name change soon followed. So did a merger with the NFL, an appearance in the first Super Bowl and a win in Super Bowl IV.

1971: Crown Center Opens

Crown Center. Photography courtesy of Kansas City Public Library.

Before Crown Center became Crown Center, the area was filled with dilapidated parking lots and abandoned buildings. When it opened in the early 1970s, it reinvigorated the area and became one of the nation’s first mixed-use redevelopments, home to shops, hotels and event venues.

1972: Arrowhead Stadium Opens

Photography courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

When the AFL and NFL merged in 1966, the league made a new rule: NFL stadiums had to seat at least 50,000 people. The Chiefs had been playing in the old Municipal Stadium and needed a new home. Jackson County offered a site on the eastern edge of Kansas City. Voters approved a $102 million bond issue on Aug. 12, 1972, to build a new, dual-stadium sports complex, unusual in an era when multi-use facilities were the norm.

They knew they were building a palace for football. They didn’t know they were building a venue for civic greatness. Long before the club’s current success, Arrowhead was legendary for having the loudest crowd in football. On Sept. 29, 2014, it even became official. During a Monday Night game against the Patriots, Chiefs fans registered an ear-splitting 142.2 decibels, setting a world record for the loudest crowd ever at a sporting event.

Arrowhead fans aren’t just the loudest, though. They’re also the best fed. College football may have invented tailgating, but Kansas City perfected it. The haze of blue smoke on game day and the orgy of smoked meats underneath is unsurpassed anywhere on the planet.

In addition to the occasional Monster Jam, Arrowhead has also hosted a litany of musical superstars. If you like live music, chances are you’ve had a magical night there. Maybe it was Pink Floyd or The Jackson 5. Maybe it was the Allman Brothers, Elton John, U2, Parliament, The Eagles, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Garth Brooks, Guns N’ Roses, Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney or Beyoncé. The list goes on. Gray heads might remember an all-day show in 1978 featuring Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and, weirdly, the Grateful Dead—proving the old hippie adage that the Dead is really just country music for people on acid. 

Arrowhead’s long-term fate is up in the air. They may renovate again. They may build a new stadium on the Kansas side. The short-term future, though, is clear. There will be more concerts, more football, more food and more loud crowds, and in 2026, the stadium will play host to the biggest sporting event on earth.

1973: World's of Fun

Worlds of Fun was founded by the famed businessman and sports icon Lamar Hunt. The opening of Worlds of Fun in 1973 coincided with the rapid developmental growth of Kansas City during the ’70s.

1976: Republican Convention

Photography courtesy of Kansas City Public Library

Kansas City had not hosted a major party convention since the 1928 Republican gathering that nominated Herbert Hoover. City leaders were determined to change that. In the early ’70s, they aggressively courted the convention planners of both parties, an effort famously detailed in Harper’s Magazine as “Convention Fever in Kansas City: Prime-Time Bacchanalia.” The Democrats passed, citing a lack of hotel space. Republicans, though, felt the city fit the Midwestern image of Gerald Ford. 

In addition to being one of the last American political conventions where the vice presidency was still up for grabs, the RNC on Aug. 16 was a sort of coming-out party for Kemper Arena. The first major project of architect Helmut Jahn, Kemper’s then-revolutionary exterior skeleton meant a lack of interior columns obstructing views. That innovation earned Jahn an award from the American Institute of Architects. The design also, however, probably contributed to a roof collapse a few years later.

1977: Plaza Flood

Photography courtesy of Kansas City Public Library

Just past midnight on Sept. 12, 1977, heavy rain began falling on Kansas City. The downpour persisted into the morning. When a second wave of storms hit that night, the ground was saturated and couldn’t absorb the 16 inches that fell.

Brush Creek, designed for aesthetics rather than flood control, became an angry river. The creek’s low, ornamental bridges created choke points where debris quickly gathered, forming dams. Rising water soon swept cars from roads and burst through the storefront windows on Ward Parkway. Finally, a damaged gas main ignited, and the resulting explosion started fires along 48th Street, creating an apocalyptic scene. 

All told, 77 of 155 Plaza businesses were damaged. It was the worst flood to hit Kansas City in decades, claiming 25 lives and causing over $100 million in damages. 

The city came back, though. By just a few weeks later, most of the businesses had reopened. The Plaza Art Fair—a rite of fall in Kansas City—went on as scheduled. Soon, the Brush Creek Flood Control and Beautification Project—locally known as the “Cleaver Plan”—was approved. The creek was deepened and widened to ease water flow. Bridges were replaced and raised to remove choke points. When a fountain and landscaping were added, America’s prettiest drainage ditch was born, hastening the Plaza’s shift from neighborhood shopping center to an upscale destination for dining and retail.

1981: Skywalk Collapse

When it opened in 1980, the Hyatt Regency at Crown Center was a showplace. The tallest building in Kansas City, the tower featured more than 700 guest rooms and was topped by a revolving restaurant. Three concrete and glass walkways, suspended from the roof by steel rods, crossed a spacious atrium lobby.

Barely a year later, on July 17, 1981, about 1,600 people gathered in that lobby for a festive Friday night. The men wore tuxedos and the women wore gowns. They danced to the big band sounds of the Steve Miller Orchestra. Dozens of partiers gathered on walkways, watching the festivities below.

Around 7 pm, the band played Duke Ellington’s “Satin Doll,” and the 32-ton walkways began to gently sway. Guests heard popping noises and a loud crack. The fourth-floor walkway fell several inches, stopped, then crashed onto the second-floor walkway. Both structures then collapsed to the crowded lobby floor, crushing dozens. A moment of shocked silence was followed by horrifying screams. Ultimately, after a night of heroism in the face of terrible sorrow, 114 people died and more than 200 were injured.

It was the deadliest structural failure in the U.S. in more than 120 years, and it remained the second deadliest structural collapse in the United States until the World Trade Center fell. Years of litigation and recrimination followed, with billions of dollars of insurance claims, legal investigations and government reforms.

1991: Stockyards Close

Courtesy Kansas City Public LIbrary

Established in 1871, the Kansas City Stockyards were a huge reason the city flourished. By the turn of the century, they were the second busiest in the nation, behind only Chicago. Activity peaked in the ’40s, when the dollar volume ran $350 million a year. 

The 1951 flood, however, was the beginning of the end. Nearby packing plants suffered, and many closed. Over the next few decades, farmers started negotiating directly with packers or selling their stock through smaller, regional auction houses. 

By the ’80s, the Stockyards were practically a ghost town. Only the American Royal remained, a vestige of our city’s western past. When the last cattle auction was held in September 1991, Kansas City’s cowtown era was officially over.

1994: Bartle Hall

The Bartle Hall pylons are an engineering necessity. They allow for 388,800 square feet of column-free exhibit space to exist in KC’s convention center. Named after past KC mayor Harold Bartle, the hall is said to be the largest column-free convention environment in the world. The art-topped pylons that soar into the sky stand out, of course, on what is a very innovative building to begin with. The convention space was dreamed up as a way to expand KC’s convention center, located in the heart of the city, where space is at a premium. It was built like a bridge over the six-lane freeway below.

1999: Union Station Reopens

Photography courtesy of Shutterstock.

In the early 20th century, Union Station was a bustling railroad station, but as railway use declined in the ’50s and ’60s, the station fell into disrepair, eventually closing in 1985. However in 1966, through a public-private partnership, Union Station underwent a $250 million renovation, restoring the building to its original grandeur. It was again opened to the public in 1999.

2006: World War I Memorial Reinvented

Below the base of the 250-foot Liberty Memorial, built in 1926, a revised World War I museum was developed. The $102 million, 80,000-square-foot expansion was designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, one of the world’s leading museum planning and design firms and it opened to the public in 2006.

At the time, the new space featured a collection of 49,000 objects in a one-of-a-kind exhibition space, exploring the causes, events and consequences of World War I. The opening day ceremony featured a flyby by a pair of WWI biplanes that dropped thousands of rose petals.

The WWI museum has been a magnet for VIPs ever since. More than two million people have visited the museum since it opened, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, General Colin Powell, President Barack Obama (as a presidential candidate in 2008), Senator John McCain and actor Kevin Costner. Frank Buckles, America’s last surviving WWI veteran, visited the museum over Memorial Day weekend in 2008.

2011: Kauffman Center

In the early 21st century, KC embarked on a mission to revitalize downtown. That mission, by any reasonable standard, has seen dazzling success, with a new arena, tons of residential space, an entertainment district and, on Sept. 16, 2011, the opening of the $326 million Kauffman Center.

With a dramatic glass face overlooking the Crossroads, the Kauffman gave Kansas City a truly world-class facility for the performing arts—and, not incidentally, a vivid, postcard-worthy addition to the skyline.

2008: Power and Light District

The district opened in May 2008, after a phased opening began in 2007. The nine-block, $850 million mixed-use district includes multiple bars, restaurants, shops and entertainment venues adjacent to the T-Mobile Center. It’s proved to be a popular attraction for huge, free public celebrations held at KC Live!, a two-level, city-block-wide entertainment venue. Most recently, KC Live! was used as a venue for a Chiefs Super Bowl 2024 watch party. The Power and Light District boasts over nine million visitors each year.

The Power and Light District includes office space and three luxury loft apartment developments, all part of a surge of $6 billion in reinvestments to revitalize downtown. The district earned the 2009 Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence and was cited as the location of the largest pub crawl on record in the 2013 Guinness Book of World Records (4,885 participants visiting 10 pubs).

The Power and Light District opened in phases: first the opening of KC Live, then Cosentino’s Market Downtown and the Midland Theater. The district has functioned as the opening salvo to the city’s new urban development push, part of $8 billion in reinvestments to revitalize a downtown that has struggled to curb a steady decline over the last few decades.

2015: The Berkeley Riverfront

Although it’s been some 70 years since the city purchased the land along the riverfront between the Kit Bond and the Heart of America bridges, the area has only begun to see a real transformation in the last 10 years. 

The city bought the land in the 1950s and literally used it as a dumping ground until the early 2000s, when much of the debris was cleaned up for the 2004 Lewis and Clark bicentennial celebration and a wetlands restoration project. The city named the area after former Mayor Richard Berkley when it created a heritage trail and park there.

After various failed development attempts for the area, Port KC finally convinced several developers to invest in multi-use projects, and a steady stream of projects has been underway since 2015, including apartments, a beer garden, a boutique hotel, a dog park, a pub, volleyball courts and, of course, the KC Current stadium. Recently, a $800 million three-phase, 10-year mixed-use development project was announced along with a streetcar expansion. The streetcar extension will connect the area with other parts of the city, truly changing the city’s relationship with its riverfront.

2015: World Series Victory

Photography by Jeremy Theron Kirby.

After a shocking playoff run in 2014, the Royals of 2015 were no surprise. From the first day of spring training, the team was on a mission. 

Unless you were around that summer, it’s hard to understand how thrilling it all was. The Royals were relentless. They had speed, dazzling defense and great pitching—especially out of the bullpen. They won close games with late-inning heroics and did it with a brotherly, infectious joy that swept up the city. 

The TV ratings set records. The city buzzed. Everywhere you went, all summer—a party, restaurant or bar—the games were on the TV and radio, and people were talking about them. Everyone knew the players. Everyone knew the pitching matchups. Everyone held their breath in the playoffs. When it all came to a head with a five-game World Series victory over the Mets in November 2015, the city erupted in a giant blue party that lasted for a week.

2016: KC Streetcar

Photography by Zach Bauman.

After years of proposals for a light rail system in the city and a reworking of proposed routes, the $102 million, two-mile downtown Kansas City Streetcar “starter line” opened on May 6 and 7, 2016. It quickly became a hit with Kansas Citians as a downtown travel option. The streetcar marks Kansas City planners’ hope that the city will become a true mass transit city, with new corridor construction development.

More than 12,000 people rode the KC Streetcar on opening day, with lunch specials all along the corridor, live music and entertainment along the route, and parties in the KC Crossroads District. The opening day also aligned with First Friday, a movie in City Market Park and fireworks at Union Station.

2017: The Chiefs Draft Patrick Mahomes

Photography by Jeremy Theron Kirby.

In the 2017 NFL draft, the Chiefs were slated to have the 27th selection. They traded up with the Buffalo Bills for the 10th pick overall, and on April 27, 2017, the Chiefs picked Patrick Mahomes.

You know what happened next. You lived it. You watched the games. You saw the comebacks. You cheered. You screamed. You went to the parade and bought the T-shirt. 

Mahomes was named the starter in 2018 and promptly threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns, leading the club to the first of six consecutive AFC championship games and, ultimately, three Super Bowl victories. And counting. 

Think it was inevitable? At the time of the pick, sportswriter Steven Ruiz of USA Today wrote: “Between his inconsistent accuracy due to poor mechanics, his tendency to bail from clean pockets and his lack of field vision, he’s going to leave as many big plays on the field as he creates. This was a risky pick.”

Ruiz wasn’t all wrong. Mahomes did have mechanical issues. What no one anticipated was that he would fix or overcome them with the most astonishing improvisational ability the league has ever seen. They didn’t know about his absolute genius for reading defenses, his fanatical will to win or how perfect his pairing with Andy Reid would be.

It’s hard to overstate what Mahomes brings to Kansas City, but the contributions go far past excitement on game day. Sustained greatness like that can change the very nature of a city. 

Imagine a kid growing up in Charlotte or Cleveland. Week after week, year after year, you see your football dreams crushed and dismantled. 

Now imagine you’re a kid growing up in Kansas City, maybe one of thousands who wear Mahomes jerseys and sport his haircut. Week after week, year after year, you see greatness. You see how hard work, luck and the sheer force of will can bring victory, riches and glory. 

Having a model like that changes people—and not just kids. Mahomes uplifts all of us. He shows us what’s possible. He helps us dream bigger and work harder to achieve those dreams. He transforms our spirit. An athlete doesn’t get any more impactful than that.

2023: KCI

Photography by Zach Bauman.

At just over one million square feet and built with a budget of $1.5 billion, the new 40-gate terminal at Kansas City International Airport is the largest single infrastructure product in the city’s history. 

Despite a few hiccups in the beginning, such as long pick-up car lines and general auto confusion, the new airport has been a hit, replacing the archaic three-terminal design of the old airport built in 1971.

A total of $5.6 million has been invested in artwork from 28 individual artists, including 19 KC area artists.