Jackson County's first government building, constructed with slave labor, was the only courthouse between St. Louis and the Pacific at the time the Santa Fe Trail trade began. Two-room log structure was home to roots of Jackson County where controversial slave state, land disputes and westward expansion issues were dealt with. Once a Mormon mercantile store, this structure has a great significance to members of the LDS church. Harry Truman held court here in the 1930s.
Landmarks We Love in KC
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. They’re 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:
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.
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. Standing high along the KC skyline is Liberty Memorial, one of the most recognizable sights in the city.
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 you’ll spot Sky Stations/Pylon Caps, a four-part sculpture installation that tops off each of the Convention Center’s 200-foot towers.
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 Power & Light District Mural, which wonderfully renders Kansas City’s Prohibition-era heyday with jazz heroes and Negro Leagues legends.
Keep an eye out for other murals throughout the city with this full list.
Kansas City Sculpture Park
Start your statue adventure on the lawn of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, dubbed Sculpture Park, where you’ll find anything from Shuttlecocks to a labyrinth and a cast of Rodin’s The Thinker. Another KC icon: The Scout, which depicts an American Indian on horseback and overlooks Downtown KC—possibly the most scenic view in town.
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 in Independence. Track down George Washington in Washington Square Park while Sir Winston and Lady Churchill are preserved on the Country Club Plaza.
Speaking of The Plaza, its Spanish-inspired style has wowed visitors for decades, from clocktower to fountains, making it one of KC’s most lauded neighborhoods. 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.
Water fun for the whole family. Park open May 24-Sept. 1, season passes also available; call 816-235-7843 for information. Additional Independence Parks to enjoy : -Water Playground - McCoy Park Location: 24 Highway & North Delaware This is a summer delight, with water play/spray features that are appropriate for children of all ages and give kids the opportunity to cool off in the summer heat. -Water Playground - Rotary Park Location: 24th & Hardy This summer fun spot is a concrete pad with spray features that shoot, spray or mist water for kids to enjoy.
The sights and sounds of a uniquely American art form come alive at the American Jazz Museum.
The American Royal hosts many of Kansas City's premier fall events including the World Series of Barbecue®; the world's largest barbecue competition, their Livestock Show; one of the Midwest's largest livestock expositions, a PRCA sanctioned professional rodeo, and 6 prestigious horse shows including the UPHA National Championship Horse Show. These events allow the American Royal, a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization, to give over $1 million annually for youth scholarships and support agriculture education programs.
Focusing on the role of agribusiness in our lives. Participate in tours led by trained, museum docents. Try out the new equine exhibit and learn about different gaits. Gain insight into the vital role that agriculture played in Kansas City's rich and storied history. Learn about the beginnings of the American Royal and the impact of Tom Bass and Loula Long Combs. Observe horse show, rodeo and livestock show clothing, saddles and memorabilia. Compare your weight with chickens, market hogs, and feeder steers. Visit the reading corner, play computer games, and learn about livestock judging.
The Beast has earned its reputation as a top 13 haunted house in the nation for years. Find your way through this thrilling open format design where visitors pass by dramatic scenes on four floors with a twisted path out. Traverse through the haunted house in a true 4D experience that includes movie-quality special effects, holograms, props, animatronics and a real alligator.
Breakout KC is one of the nation's top-rated, live-action escape room facilities, located in downtown Kansas City's River Market. Your goal is simple: you have 60 minutes to Breakout from one of our live-action, themed rooms. Crack codes. Use your gut. Solve riddles. Do you have what it takes to Breakout in time?
The Asylum Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge was built in 1905 by the Kansas City Bridge company of Kansas City, MO, for $4,800. The pin connected reverse Parker Truss structure is 219 feet long and 16.5 feet wide. The bridge originally had gaslights at each end. No other examples of this bridge design have been found to date. It has been closed to vehicle traffic since the 1970s.
Awesome craft brew, delicious food, perfect lighting, comfortable seating. Calibration is gearing up to be one of the most unique and up-and-coming breweries in North Kansas City.
Brewery Emperial is a brewery, restaurant and beer garden located int he east Crossroads Arts District.