For this week’s Flashback Friday, we are taking a journey to the City of Fountains – Kansas City, Missouri (KCMO). Kansas City is full of history and culture, and today we will explore some of the unique experiences available to visitors and residents of KCMO. Our trip will take you from the somber and historical National World War I Museum to the lively and upbeat American Jazz Museum. Kansas City offers many chances to learn and to appreciate and immerse yourself into many different areas of life, in just one city!
Part one of our journey begins at the National World War I Museum at the Liberty Memorial. The Liberty Memorial was completed in 1926 after five years of construction and was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge on November 11 of that year. The memorial stood untouched and was enjoyed by millions until 1994. Time and Mother Nature deteriorated the structure and it was closed for safety concerns; however, the citizens of KCMO stepped up and passed a limited-run sales tax to support the restoration. In addition to the citizens, the City, State and U.S. Government provided support to expand and revitalize the area. In 2006 the site received a designation as a National Historic Landmark and the National World War I Museum opened to the public. In addition to the stunning Liberty Memorial, rising 265 feet into the sky, the museum features a glass walkway. Under the walkway there are 9,000 poppies, each representing 1,000 lives, which have been planted in memory of the 9 million people who lost their lives in World War I.
Our second stop is at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM). Opened in its permanent location in 1997, the NLBM showcases the accomplishments of great players, teams, and management of the Negro Leagues. The museum features a 10,000 square-foot facility with photographs, interactive displays, and a field of 12 bronze sculptures. Kansas City is most well known in the Negro Leagues for being the home of the Kansas City Monarchs and their star player Jackie Robinson. Robinson was recruited by the Brooklyn Dodgers and became the first African-American player in the modern era to play in Major League Baseball. The Negro League began to decline after this and closed its doors in the early 1960s, but its legacy forever lives on at this museum.
Our final stop on this part of our journey is just next door to the NLBM in the famous 18th & Vine Jazz District. The American Jazz Museum, also opened in 1997, showcases jazz through a multidimensional visitor experience. Featuring interactive exhibits and films, rotating galleries, a theater, and a jazz club, the American Jazz Museum allows visitors to immerse themselves in a diverse and creative environment. The museum hosts educational programs and exhibitions and provides the community a chance to learn about the legends and enjoy the foundation of jazz music within the City. The museum also features an 18-foot memorial to Charlie “Bird” Parker. A Kansas City native, Parker is credited with providing the foundation for the genre known as “bebop.” Charlie Parker has a permanent place in the Jazz Masters Exhibit, which features his iconic saxophone on display along with photos, album covers, and listening stations.
Stay tuned next week for part two of our journey through KCMO! For more information on things to do around the City, visit www.visitkc.com.
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