Happy birthday Possum Trot, um, I mean Kansas City


Call the little town Possum Trot, some said. Wiser heads prevailed and the City of Kansas was born in 1853.

That political call gets scant memory or praise, but the city manager gave it a plug Thursday at the city’s 160th birthday party.

On March 28, 1853, voters – all 67 of them – officially approved the City of Kansas that Missouri had incorporated a month before.

At that time the city was 10 blocks east to west and five blocks north to south, said city councilman Jermaine Reed, and was mostly a dream.

“I would suggest we turned our original dream into reality,” he said at the city hall press conference.

A city press release gives more detail:

The city’s history reaches into the early 1800s, when French fur traders followed the Missouri River and established trading posts on the waterfront.

In the 1830s, a another trader named John Calvin McCoy opened a store inland on the Santa Fe Trail.

It was a portal to the west, he said. He called it Westport.

Wikipedia adds more details:

The store was four miles from the Missouri River but McCoy put a dock on the river between Main and Grand that he called Westport landing. The trail from there through Midtown to his store would later become Broadway.

That river wharf was popular but the land around it belonged to a farmer named Gabriel Prudhomme. The farmer was murdered in 1831 and his property auctioned in 1838 to settle the estate.

McCoy and 13 others formed a company called the Town of Kansas and bought the property. It was named after a French description of the area, “chez les Canses,” home of the Kansa Indians.

Mayor Sly James’ speech did not dwell on the past but on what the city has accomplished in the last year and what it will do.

The All Star game here – the one major league baseball called ‘the best All Star game they’ve ever had” – clued many into the attractions of the city, James said.

He heard from people who got a weird look in their eyes and told him, “I had no idea,” he said.

With Google coming in with super fast connections and other innovations under way, “the really great part of Kansas City is our future,” he said. “We’re going to be on a rocket path to taking our place in this country the way we should be.”

Councilman Jim Glover said the new Downtown streetcar line to be finished in 2015 will lead to other lines east-west and north-south, along with development along all of them.

Councilman Ed Ford said the city didn’t look a day over 150.

“It’s a great city, a lot of history and its proudest day to come,” Ford said.

Would that have happened if it were named Possum Trot?

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