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:

Unforgettable Memorials

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.

There’s also the Rosedale Memorial Arch in KCK and Memorial Park in Olathe, one a stunning piece of architecture and the other a lovely outdoor greenspace. 

Incredible Installations

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.

Memorable Murals

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.

Awe-Inspiring Architecture

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. 

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