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Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City, often referred to by its initials, K.C., is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and is the predominant city of a metropolitan area of more than two million people spanning the MissouriЦKansas border. It encompasses 316 square miles (820 km2) in parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties. It is one of two county seats of Jackson County, the other being Independence, which is to the city's east. As of 2011, the population estimate was 463,202 with a metro area of 2.1 million.[6] Kansas City was founded in 1838 as the Town of Kansas[7] at the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers and was incorporated in its present form in 1850. Situated opposite Kansas City, Kansas, the city was the location of several battles during the Civil War, including the Battle of Westport. The city is well known for its contributions to the musical styles of jazz and blues as well as to cuisine, notably Kansas City-style barbecue. In March 2012, downtown Kansas City was selected as one of America's best downtowns by Forbes magazine for its rich culture in arts, numerous fountains, upscale shopping and various local cuisine Ц most notably barbecue. Kansas City, Missouri, is often abbreviated as KC (abbreviations often refer to the metro area). It is officially nicknamed the City of Fountains. With over 200 fountains, the city claims to have the second most in the world, just behind Rome.[9] The fountains at Kauffman Stadium, commissioned by original Kansas City Royals owner Ewing Kauffman, are the largest privately funded fountains in the world.[10] The city also has more boulevards than any city except Paris and has been called "Paris of the Plains." Residents are known as Kansas Citians. It is sometimes referred to colloquially as the Heart of America as it is near both the population center of the United States and the geographic center of the 48 contiguous states. The first documented European visit to Kansas City was Etienne de Veniard, Sieur de Bourgmont, who was also the first European to explore the lower Missouri River. Criticized for his handling of a Native American attack on Fort Detroit, he had deserted his post as commander of the fort and was avoiding the French authorities. Bourgmont lived with a Native American wife in the Missouri village about 90 miles (140 km) east near Brunswick, Missouri, and illegally traded furs. In order to clear his name, he wrote "Exact Description of ouisiana, of Its Harbors, Lands and Rivers, and Names of the Indian Tribes That Occupy It, and the Commerce and Advantages to Be Derived Therefrom for the Establishment of a Colony" in 1713 followed in 1714 by "The Route to Be Taken to Ascend the Missouri River." In the documents he describes the junction of the "Grande Riv[iere] des Cansez" and Missouri River, being the first to refer to them by those names. French cartographer Guillaume Delisle used the descriptions to make the first reasonably accurate map of the area. The Spanish took over the region in the Treaty of Paris (1763), but were not to play a major role in the area other than taxing and licensing all traffic on the Missouri River. The French continued their fur trade on the river under Spanish license. The Chouteau family operated under the Spanish license at St. Louis in the lower Missouri Valley as early as 1765, but it would be 1821 before the Chouteaus reached Kansas City, when Francois Chouteau established Chouteau's Landing. After the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark visited the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers, noting it was a good place to build a fort. In 1831 a group of Mormons from New York settled in an area that would later be part of Kansas City. They built the first school within the current boundaries of the city, but were forced out by mob violence in 1833 and their settlement was left vacant.[11] In 1833 John McCoy established West Port along the Santa Fe Trail, three miles (5 km) away from the river. Then in 1834, McCoy established Westport Landing on a bend in the Missouri River to serve as a landing point for West Port. Soon after the Kansas Town Company, a group of investors, began to settle the area, taking their name from an English spelling of "Cansez." In 1850 the landing area was incorporated as the Town of Kansas.[12] By that time, the Town of Kansas, Westport, and nearby Independence, had become critical points in America's westward expansion. Three major trails Ц the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon Ц all originated in Jackson County. On February 22, 1853, the City of Kansas was created with a newly elected mayor. It had an area of 0.70 square miles (1.8 km2) and a population of 2,500. The boundary lines at that time extended from the middle of the Missouri River south to what is now Ninth Street, and from Bluff Street on the west to a point between Holmes Road and Charlotte Street on the east.