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Old 05-22-2017, 08:49 PM
 
482 posts, read 215,985 times
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I hadn't lived in or visited the area for a long time after having grown up the wrong color and on the wrong side of Troost during the 80s and 90s. I stayed away as much as I could during my undergraduate college years, then moved out of state for good during the mid-2000s. It was 2016 and a family matter had finally brought me back to my hometown for the first time in well over a decade.

I lived in and traveled to many places in that intervening decade-plus. Ahhh, Kansas City as a whole was as "nice" as I had remembered it (that's how most visitors to the city usually describe it). I had a pleasant time, though some aspects of being there were unsettling.

When I stopped by the old neighborhood my youngest daughter screamed "Yuck!" as I pointed out to her the house I had grown up in. Children are so honest -- sometimes in not-so-refreshing ways.

The whole thing was like a dream to me. I repeated the world "surreal" so many times that one of my older children finally insisted I explain its meaning. What was surreal to me was how little had changed.

Everything in the neighborhood was exactly as I had remembered it growing up, only worse. The huge increase in abandoned properties was distinct. I felt like I was observing a community that had had a bomb dropped on it, then was left to its own devices afterwards. This hurt in the most personal way because, chosen or not, this was my community of origin.

I didn't blame any developers for not having come out that way, but I was surprised that they hadn't thought to do so. The intervening years of my life had disconnected me from a lot of the pain of my upbringing, and in that process many of my memories of the neighborhood softened -- I had naively imagined that the east side had been as gentrified as I had been. I looked at the house again, then peered around at the tough looking young adult males hanging on the block during the middle of what should have been a school or work day, and I wept. It was all just so ... sad.

Another thing that was sad to me, in a more comical way, was how even though I had spent the first two decades of my life in the city, I needed to map visits to anyplace outside of the east side, Westport and the Plaza. Growing up I had at least had limited experiences in almost all parts of the metro -- plus for an inner city black kid I was an unusually heavy consumer of local news, but my primary world had clearly been a very small one. Had I felt I could have grown myself locally rather than felt the need to leave the area in order to grow, Kansas City and I may not have had such a bad breakup.

I was free to explore the city in ways I never had before, but even when accounting for activities in the Missouri-side suburbs I quickly narrowed my biggest local interest down to eating triple servings of barbecue (I tried my d*mnedest to make up for one of the few things I had genuinely missed about the area).

Though I did not object to it, I never made it to Johnson County, Kansas other than to drive through. My limited experiences and memories of Johnson County were that the biggest local cluster of elite suburbs were there, which was fine; that they built a huge Sprint campus there sometime during my high school years, which was also fine; and that I had encountered more blatantly snobby and condescending people from there than from any other part of the metro, which was not so fine. As I had done with my old neighborhood, I imagined that surely the stereotypical Johnson County dynamic had changed for the better also; I never got the chance to test my hypothesis because there were no compelling cultural attractions there that my family could think to visit.

Kansas City did not feel like a boring town to me; it felt stagnant. I knew it wasn't fair to compare it to a global business city like Dallas-Fort Worth, but I even thought it felt stagnant compared to itself. The problem wasn't just the old neighborhood. Everything was the same. I came away with the distinct feeling that my hometown might suffer from the curse of mediocrity: it's too "nice" of a place for many people to ever seriously dislike it, so residents tend to be easily blinded to needed changes and opportunities to improve.

I returned home and poured myself into new research about the city, trying to make sense of and resolve my jumble of resurrected emotions about the place. I found the City-Data forum to be among the most insightful resources. Apparently the "Border War" is more serious than I had ever realized. It's not just about residents from each side misunderstanding or even disliking one another; it's an all-out economic war. Did the CEO of one of the area's most important companies really write letters to the Governors of both states chiding them to knock it off? SMDH

I pulled up Wikipedia and noticed something interesting: since the 1970 census population growth in all Missouri-side counties of the metro had been moderate. Lee's Summit was the closest thing to a large boom town on the Missouri side, but its growth had not boosted the growth of Jackson County as a whole.

Johnson County, Kansas on the other hand had exploded population wise -- to the extent that it can be said Johnson County has contributed the vast majority of the metro area's population growth for nearly half-a-century! This went back to before I was born -- to before even my oldest siblings had been born -- and it was still growing like a weed!

The Kansas side of the metro was now roughly equal in population to the Missouri side, and was only growing in population and influence while the Missouri side was continually stagnating -- there's that word again. And suddenly it all made sense.

I had been jolted during my trip because something that seemed the exact same as I had remembered was at the same time so obviously different. The Kansas City I had grown up in did not exist anymore. In fact, right as I was leaving the area, it was on the death-bed of its status as Missouri's second major city. 150 years after the founding of the metro area, Kansas City finally belonged to ... well ... Kansas. Perhaps that's most fitting.

Kansas (in the form of Johnson County) has won the so-called Border War, because it has established itself as the sole growth portal in the area and the primary revenue portal. Its residents / voters essentially set the agenda for the metro as a whole. Kansas City is more or less exactly what Johnson County wants it to be. I don't know that it's right or wrong. It just is.

The east side of Troost will continue to decline; it will never heal. This won't be due to intentional neglect as much as the reality that there will never be enough tax dollars flowing into the Missouri side to extend what KC, MO has built on the west side further east. And overall the Missouri side will maintain several neat cultural assets, but it will not likely gain the means or the momentum to grow large, vibrant communities around those assets.

Kansas City's destiny is to be a giant "nice" heartland suburb. It's not what I would have chosen, but I do not necessarily object to it. In fact I am at peace, because I no longer feel like I left Kansas City. The city I grew up in apparently left me also. We have each moved on to different things that suit us best.
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Old 05-22-2017, 09:44 PM
 
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,493,517 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dallasgoldrush View Post
Kansas City did not feel like a boring town to me; it felt stagnant. I knew it wasn't fair to compare it to a global business city like Dallas-Fort Worth, but I even thought it felt stagnant compared to itself. The problem wasn't just the old neighborhood. Everything was the same. I came away with the distinct feeling that my hometown might suffer from the curse of mediocrity: it's too "nice" of a place for many people to ever seriously dislike it, so residents tend to be easily blinded to needed changes and opportunities to improve.
I love KC. It will always be home. But god, you nailed KC with this quote. ^ It's getting better, but the people in KC that are fine with things being stagnant still far outnumber the more progressive types. Parts of the city are seeing modest progress though, mostly the river market and crossroads.

For the record. The MO side is now pretty much kicking the KS side's ass in new jobs and it's even growing considerably faster even with continued population losses in many parts of Jackson County. MO side is 80% of new jobs over past few years and 60% of new metro residents. The Northland is booming at about the same rate as JoCo and the MO side also has fast growing areas of Eastern Jackson County, Cass County and the Downtown to plaza corridor. So things have flipped back to the MO side. Now coming from DFW, this is all relative. KC growth overall is very slow. But I'm just saying that the growth they do get has shifted back to MO.

Plus JoCo's economy is a mirage. That county is so propped up with subsidized development that it's difficult to take it seriously. I mean for such a desirable and wealthy county, the county and state has to basically help build everything and I mean EVERYTHING that gets built there. They can't even build smaller motels in Lenexa or Olathe without 40% of them being funded by tax payers. Apartments in greenfields, office parks, upscale retail centers. All are heavily subsidized all across the county. (oh and by the way, the only reason JoCo can support so much high end retail is because 40% of the shoppers come from the MO side). And tax payer subsidized office parks filled with companies poached from KCMO does not equal economic prosperity. JoCo has everybody in KC fooled. Meanwhile KCMO is starting to get large urban projects proposed with no incentives at all.

JoCo remains more affluent over all, but as a whole, the MO side is closing the gap. I don't think that will change change anytime soon. JoCo is nearing build out and JoCo is basically all the KS side has. Meanwhile there is room in Platte, Clay and Jackson County for hundreds of thousands of new residents within 25 minutes of downtown. The area north of 152 in Clay and Platte will easily rival JoCo in 20 years and yes, I think that's a good thing and here is why.

In your other thread where you asked when did KC begin its fall from a major city and lose its national reputation as a major city? I didn't post a response there because few people here want hear what I would say.

But It's absolutely no coincidence that KC's fall started right about the same time JoCo took off. The bigger JoCo got and the more of KCMO's economy that migrated over there, the more the entire metro KC area fell off the national map and became a less important and desirable city on a national scale. KC was a much more important city when JoCo had 40k people. Over a few decades much of the wealth, the companies etc moved to JoCo and it literally destroyed the city till it hit rock bottom. Thank god Hallmark had the civic pride to stick around. KCK also took a hit. Metro KC lost its urban appeal. The city could no longer afford to maintain its boulevards that now have 20% the use they once did. Let a lone maintain the zoo, union station, fountains, starlight, museums etc. The tax base was leaving for cheap office parks. Workers and CEO's followed, but KCMO still had to maintain all the same regional infrastructure. That doesn't work especially when the KS side is more interested in building competing attractions than maintaining what is already in place. This is still a problem. Trust me. NOBODY form outside of JoCo has any interest in visiting the PrarieFire Museum. But they do want to see the WWI Museum, Union Station, Nelson etc. People will say that this "white flight" happened in all cities. And it did, but in KC it was exaggerated by the state line especially with racial issues that JoCo used in their favor from not allowing blacks into the county at all to using the threat of desegregation to scare white families into Kansas (this also hurt MO side suburbs).

The city has a long way to go still, but it's also no coincidence that KC's image and national recognition is seeing a renaissance as the MO side rebounds (both downtown and the MO side suburbs).

KC would be a MUCH MUCH stronger metro with stronger Missouri side. History proves it. Kansas (Topeka) is KCMO's biggest enemy. KCMO's second biggest enemy are their own complacent residents which are so stubborn and cheap and don't want change as you point out very well in this thread. The airport is a prime example of how weird KC people can be about change.

I like your posts. I grew up on the east side too. Although I am white, I mostly grew up in all black areas which have all decayed dramatically since I was in grade school. The areas were safe, but white and black flight finally took its toll. I then moved to south plaza and even though I was a 2 minute walk to Loose Park, I probably set foot in Kansas less than a dozen times before I turned 18 (mostly to visit Metcalf South Mall area.)

Last edited by kcmo; 05-22-2017 at 10:59 PM..
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Old 05-22-2017, 09:58 PM
 
Location: KCMO (Plaza)
290 posts, read 229,980 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dallasgoldrush View Post
I had been jolted during my trip because something that seemed the exact same as I had remembered was at the same time so obviously different. The Kansas City I had grown up in did not exist anymore. In fact, right as I was leaving the area, it was on the death-bed of its status as Missouri's second major city. 150 years after the founding of the metro area, Kansas City finally belonged to ... well ... Kansas. Perhaps that's most fitting.
Interesting assessment. On the other hand, as KCMO pointed out and through some quick research through the Star and other sources, you will discover that the Missouri side has become the driver of the economy once again for the Metro. Nonetheless, due to the post-war boom of suburbanization, Johnson County has become quite the 'other half' of the Metro area once dominated by KCMO. I think it will be decades before the East Side, especially by Prospect enters a phase of gentrification, but the downtown core will continue to grow in residents and urban vibrancy. Maybe, just maybe KC will be what it once was as an urban destination on the plains, but only time will tell.
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Old 05-23-2017, 04:34 AM
 
482 posts, read 215,985 times
Reputation: 1182
Quote:
People will say that this "white flight" happened in all cities. And it did, but in KC it was exaggerated by the state line
One thing that's troubling is it's hard to see how it could have been avoided. The state line has been lethal to the area. Usually when two major (or semi-major) cities are located as closely to one another as KC, MO and KCK (JoCo) are, they start as fierce rivals but eventually forge a regional cooperation that propels the entire area forward as a unit. Examples: Minneapolis-St. Paul, DC-Baltimore, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Francisco-San Jose, etc. But with the state line in KC, it was too easy -- tempting even -- to take the rivalry to unreasonable extremes. With twin cities sitting in different states altogether, they each had an entire state legislature backing it against the other. I don't know that a genuine truce is possible. Someone has to win. It's a brutal game.

Quote:
The areas were safe, but white and black flight finally took its toll.
Indeed. If white flight put the east side in a coffin, the subsequent black flight nailed the coffin. I'll at least acknowledge there are no easy solutions, other than pouring copious amounts of money into the area -- but there's only so much of that to go around.
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Old 05-23-2017, 04:59 AM
 
482 posts, read 215,985 times
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Quote:
as KCMO pointed out and through some quick research through the Star and other sources, you will discover that the Missouri side has become the driver of the economy once again for the Metro.
If so, this is a healthy development. I'm not blind to the fact that Cerner is a big deal -- a very very big deal.

Quote:
the downtown core will continue to grow in residents and urban vibrancy.
This too would be very positive for the city overall.
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Old 05-23-2017, 07:39 AM
 
Location: Kansas City, MO
481 posts, read 579,989 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmo View Post

KCMO's second biggest enemy are their own complacent residents which are so stubborn and cheap and don't want change as you point out very well in this thread. The airport is a prime example of how weird KC people can be about change.


This is a prime example of you painting the entire city/metro with one broad brush stroke. This is a ridiculous statement. The citizens that live here just approved a $800m bond for infrastructure, roads and an animal shelter. We pay a 1% earnings tax. We have some of the highest sales taxes in the region if not the country (and on top of that, we pay high sales taxes on groceries). We also pay taxes on our vehicles, which you don't find in a lot of other regions. Oh and our water/sewer bills are skyrocketing because of $2b worth of new sewer and pipe lines that need replaced over the next 10 years. Yeah, you're right, we are cheap


And knock it off with the airport....there has never even been a vote for the people to decide, only some "preliminary polling" which is not the same as a vote.
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Old 05-23-2017, 08:40 AM
 
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Lot of Chicken Little nonsense.
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Old 05-23-2017, 10:15 AM
 
112 posts, read 61,867 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcmo View Post


Plus JoCo's economy is a mirage. That county is so propped up with subsidized development that it's difficult to take it seriously.

JoCo remains more affluent over all, but as a whole, the MO side is closing the gap. I don't think that will change change anytime soon. JoCo is nearing build out and JoCo is basically all the KS side has. Meanwhile there is room in Platte, Clay and Jackson County for hundreds of thousands of new residents within 25 minutes of downtown. The area north of 152 in Clay and Platte will easily rival JoCo in 20 years and yes, I think that's a good thing and here is why.

In your other thread where you asked when did KC begin its fall from a major city and lose its national reputation as a major city? I didn't post a response there because few people here want hear what I would say. But It's absolutely no coincidence that KC's fall started right about the same time JoCo took off.

Kansas (Topeka) is KCMO's biggest enemy. KCMO's second biggest enemy are their own complacent residents which are so stubborn and cheap and don't want change as you point out very well in this thread. The airport is a prime example of how weird KC people can be about change.
KCMO, I agree with a lot of your views, but I think your hatred of Kansas and JoCo is somewhat misplaced. If JoCo truly is dependent on subsidies for its growth, that is an indictment of the KC metro, not just JoCo. If the area of town that was the fastest growing for four decades needs incentives, that says something about the whole metro. Economic incentives are a reality across the country. Suburbs fight cities for jobs and companies across the country. KCMO needs to find a way around the harmful referendum process and it needs to get its city counsel and school board to start working in constructive ways. The fact is that the KC metro has grown slowly along with the two states it sits in. Missouri's other major city, St. Louis (metro), has grown even slower. Clearly, there are problems in Missouri. Wichita has gone nowhere too. Clearly there are problems in Kansas. We are at the western end of the rust belt, and all of the cities in that area have struggled compared to western and southern cities. Although I agree that the border war is not a net positive for KC, the real issue is that people don't want to move to Missouri OR Kansas.

I actually don't think Kansas is KCMO's biggest enemy. KCMO is. It's true that, as KCMO goes, so goes the metro. And the entire metro is struggling. Things can't get done in KCMO because they get bogged down in politics and fights for control. There are so many examples of things that could have happened in KCMO, but it dithered. People fight growth and progress. People are scared of change. And many people move here from smaller towns, and have no taste for "big city" things. I am completely fine with the idea of KCMO outpacing JoCo in job growth, etc, if that is happening in urban areas. I prefer it. I would love for Sprint or Cerner to move downtown. If not, I'm neutral. A shopping center or office building in Liberty or Parkville does no more for the metro than one in Olathe.

In the end, your hatred for JoCo is no more productive than CrownVic's hatred for Missouri. It's one metro. Those of us who want to see it prosper should treat it as such.
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Old 05-23-2017, 10:17 AM
 
112 posts, read 61,867 times
Reputation: 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by shindig View Post
This is a prime example of you painting the entire city/metro with one broad brush stroke. This is a ridiculous statement. The citizens that live here just approved a $800m bond for infrastructure, roads and an animal shelter. We pay a 1% earnings tax. We have some of the highest sales taxes in the region if not the country (and on top of that, we pay high sales taxes on groceries). We also pay taxes on our vehicles, which you don't find in a lot of other regions. Oh and our water/sewer bills are skyrocketing because of $2b worth of new sewer and pipe lines that need replaced over the next 10 years. Yeah, you're right, we are cheap


And knock it off with the airport....there has never even been a vote for the people to decide, only some "preliminary polling" which is not the same as a vote.

I completely agree with KCMO on this point (except for the cheap part -- I don't think it's about being cheap for most people. But for some outspoken people it is. There are very vocal groups that are against KCMO making any investment in itself with tax dollars). I don't know if you've ever lived anywhere else. But complacency and fear of change are rampant here compared to other places I've lived. Sure, there are exceptions. But realizing those exceptions is like pulling teeth.
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Old 05-23-2017, 11:05 AM
 
Location: SF Bay Area
7,644 posts, read 5,638,332 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DallastoChicagotoKC View Post
KCMO, I agree with a lot of your views, but I think your hatred of Kansas and JoCo is somewhat misplaced. If JoCo truly is dependent on subsidies for its growth, that is an indictment of the KC metro, not just JoCo. If the area of town that was the fastest growing for four decades needs incentives, that says something about the whole metro. Economic incentives are a reality across the country. Suburbs fight cities for jobs and companies across the country. KCMO needs to find a way around the harmful referendum process and it needs to get its city counsel and school board to start working in constructive ways. The fact is that the KC metro has grown slowly along with the two states it sits in. Missouri's other major city, St. Louis (metro), has grown even slower. Clearly, there are problems in Missouri. Wichita has gone nowhere too. Clearly there are problems in Kansas. We are at the western end of the rust belt, and all of the cities in that area have struggled compared to western and southern cities. Although I agree that the border war is not a net positive for KC, the real issue is that people don't want to move to Missouri OR Kansas.

I actually don't think Kansas is KCMO's biggest enemy. KCMO is. It's true that, as KCMO goes, so goes the metro. And the entire metro is struggling. Things can't get done in KCMO because they get bogged down in politics and fights for control. There are so many examples of things that could have happened in KCMO, but it dithered. People fight growth and progress. People are scared of change. And many people move here from smaller towns, and have no taste for "big city" things. I am completely fine with the idea of KCMO outpacing JoCo in job growth, etc, if that is happening in urban areas. I prefer it. I would love for Sprint or Cerner to move downtown. If not, I'm neutral. A shopping center or office building in Liberty or Parkville does no more for the metro than one in Olathe.

In the end, your hatred for JoCo is no more productive than CrownVic's hatred for Missouri. It's one metro. Those of us who want to see it prosper should treat it as such.
Excuse me?

This was a pretty decent post until you flushed it down the toilet with that remark. It is blatantly and flagrantly false....never have I posted anything on this forum - or anywhere else, for that matter - that would give you cause to even wonder about that. I am as far removed from the infantile "border war" nonsense as a person can be.

It is the leap of the century to jump from my stated strong preference for the suburban over urban living environment to "hatred for Missouri". Ridiculous.
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