two adjacent cities of the same name, one (1990 pop. 149,767), seat of Wyandotte co., NE Kansas (inc. 1859), the other (1990 pop. 435,146), Clay, Jackson, and Platte counties, NW Mo. (inc. 1850). They are at the junction of the Missouri and Kansas (or Kaw) rivers and together form a large commercial, industrial, and cultural center. They are a port of entry, the focus of many transportation lines, with markets for wheat, hay, poultry, and seed. Both cities have meat, dairy, and agricultural processing and packaging plants. Among the chief manufactures of the metropolitan area are auto bodies, chemicals, petroleum and paper products, machinery, and transportation equipment. There are also printing and publishing companies. During the 1970s and 80s the outlying towns and cities that comprise Kansas City's suburban area developed their own industries, businesses, and corporate bases for various companies. As a result, the population of the two adjacent cities declined, and nearby suburban communities and housing developments grew.
The area was the starting point of many Western expeditions; the Santa Fe and Oregon trails passed through there. Several historic settlements of the early 19th cent. (including Westport) have become full-fledged cities. Kansas City, Kans., is the seat of two theological seminaries, the Univ. of Kansas Medical Center, and a state school for the blind (est. 1868). It has an agricultural hall of fame and several museums, and the Huron Indian cemetery is of interest. Kansas City, Mo., is the site of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, and the National World War I Museum. There are numerous parks and public spaces filled with fountains and sculptures. Country Club Plaza (finished 1922) was one of the first U.S. shopping malls, and the renovated Union Station contains a science museum and other attractions. Among its educational institutions are the Univ. of Missouri–Kansas City, Avila College, Park College, Rockhurst College, Kansas City Art Institute, a college of osteopathy and surgery, a music conservatory, and theological schools. The city has a symphony orchestra; among its theaters are those of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The Kansas City Star was founded (1880) by William Rockhill Nelson and headed by him until 1915. The Kansas City Royals (baseball) and the Kansas City Chiefs (football) are the major sports teams, and the Kansas Speedway and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum are located here. Kansas City has long been noted for its music, particularly jazz and swing, popular there since the 1930s. Kansas City holds various jazz and blues festivals and is home to a jazz museum.