Iconic Kansas City Landmarks
From memorials and installations to murals and sculptures, Kansas City’s landmarks are more than just a random assortment of aesthetically pleasing artwork. They’re as much a part of the KC’s texture as jazz, barbecue or fountains—many of which stand out as marquee landmarks in their own right.
These landmarks are reminders of those we’ve lost, tributes to those who shaped our identity and symbols of the spirit of Kansas City, each contributing something unique to the city’s cultural composition.
Here are some of the most iconic local landmarks in KC:
Standing high along the KC skyline is Liberty Memorial, one of the most recognizable sights in the city and part of the wonderful National WWI Museum and Memorial.
A slew of other landmarks honor veterans of past wars and conflicts. Head to Westport for the solemn Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Overland Park for both the 9/11 Memorial—which includes a steel beam pulled from the wreckage of the World Trade Center towers—and the Korean War Veterans Memorial, two moving tributes less than five minutes from one another.
Charlie “Bird” Parker once filled clubs in the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District with jazz enthusiasts hoping to hear his signature brass sound. Today’s visitors can check out Bird’s old stomping grounds and take in a larger-than-life, 17-foot bronze sculpture of the legendary musician.
Sculptures and Installations
Start your statue adventure on the lawn of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, dubbed Sculpture Park, where you’ll find anything from larger-than-life Shuttlecocks to a labyrinth and a cast of Rodin’s The Thinker.
Head to the West Bottoms to revisit Kansas City’s agricultural heritage with Bull Wall and Bull Mountain. The first depicts two 120-foot-long steel walls with cutouts of running bulls while the second shows the cutouts grazing on a hillside nearby.
Take in the rapturous illumination of The Steeple of Light, a shining beacon of light that projects from the rooftop dome of Community Christian Church, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building. Atop the Kansas City Convention Center is Sky Stations/Pylon Caps, a four-part sculpture installation that tops off each of the Convention Center’s 200-foot towers.
Get historical in Westport with The Pioneers, a statue that pays tribute to the men who helped establish the settlement, now one of Kansas City’s liveliest neighborhoods. Harry S. Truman’s likeness can be found at his presidential library and museum in Independence. Or, track down George Washington in Washington Square Park while Sir Winston and Lady Churchill are preserved on the Country Club Plaza.
Thanks to broad brush strokes and vibrant colors, KC’s diverse cast of murals are arguably some of the most recognizable landmarks in the city. Think art like the murals in the Power & Light District, which wonderfully render Kansas City’s Prohibition-era heyday with jazz heroes and Negro Leagues legends.
The Spanish-inspired style at the Country Club Plaza has wowed visitors for decades, from Giralda Tower to fountains large and small, making it one of KC’s most lauded neighborhoods.
A short drive away, Overland Park’s Museum at Prairiefire is as eye-popping on the outside as it is entertaining and enlightening on the inside.
While seeing a show at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts needs to be on your KC bucket list, taking in the structure’s one-of-a-kind design deserves its own pilgrimage.
And don’t forget Union Station, Kansas City’s beautiful train depot that hosts several annual events and is home to exceptional attractions, dining and more.