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East Jackson County on the Missouri Side in Kansas City Exudes Midwestern Charm

Playing country mouse to their larger neighbor’s city mouse, the towns in Jackson County’s eastern portion offer residents an atmosphere for living that conjures images of days gone by when front-porch chats were the norm and community festivals were the things folks spent all year looking forward to. Although they hang on tightly to their small-town roots, each of East Jackson County’s cities offer an array of modern services that blend with their rich and vibrant histories. From organized parks departments to their own police forces and cities governments, the communities in East Jackson are designed for living, working and playing.

Famous on its own accord is Independence, the former home of President Harry S. Truman. Rounding out the mix are communities such as Raytown, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, Greenwood and Buckner. While none is likely to ever rival Kansas City in size, they don’t slouch on reasons to visit, work or play within their bounds.

With its easy access to the greater Kansas City area, Raytown is a crossroads to the entire metropolitan area. Packing a lot into 10.4 square miles, Raytown is known for its well-established neighborhoods, community activities, parks programs, BMX track and Super Splash USA, a water park for all ages. In addition, Raytown has a skateboard facility, a fishing pond and more. With a population of 30,368 in 2000, Raytown is a small town with a big heart.

Considered one of the fasted growing cities in the Kansas City Metropolitan area, Blue Springs has a population of about 50,000. Located 20 minutes from downtown Kansas City, Blue Springs offers a mix of established neighborhoods and a small-town feel, complete with community events, outdoor activities and rich history. The city is home to the Blue Springs Fall Festival and parade, the second weekend after Labor Day each year. In addition, Blue Springs has its own historical museum and city theater.

With a population of about 5,100 in 2000, Grain Valley is small-town America all the way. This little town has a big sense of community, offering a host of citywide activities to bring residents together. The line up includes a community cleanup, a food drive and even a father-daughter Valentine Dance. The activities for families and children abound and culture isn’t lost either. With its own sports complex, nature park and outdoor concert series, Grain Valley offers the simple pleasures in life to its residents.

Home to a AAA-rated school district, Oak Grove is another small town in the Jackson County landscape. With approximately 6,500 residents, the focus here is on education, local history and community. With more than 20 unique neighborhoods, a bevy of churches and parks, Oak Grove bills itself as a community for living.Greenwood and Buckner are perhaps the smallest communities within East Jackson County. Although small in population, each is tight-knit and provides a sense of community to residents.

Independence – Stands Alone.

While Kansas City is metropolitan, Independence is presidential. The heralded home of former President Harry S. Truman, Independence is a bustling city in its own rights. With a population that tops 115,000, and an area of more than 78 square miles, it is the state’s fourth largest city. Though Harry and Bess are perhaps its most famous residents, there are plenty of other reasons to visit Independence or even call it home.

With more than 40 parks, an array of beautiful historic homes and the designation of being Jackson County’s county seat, Independence is a place for living and a favorite destination for tourists as well. The National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence not only tells the story of this city, it paints the picture of America’s western expansion from the early trail days to the California Gold Rush. As America pushed its western bounds, Independence served as a “jumping off point” for the Santa Fe, Oregon and California trails. This distinction made Independence a major place to be in the 1800s. The museum celebrates this and brings the city’s history to life for visitors.

Speaking of history, Independence is also home to some of the best preserved historic homes anywhere. The town is famous for its two story homes, complete with all the gingerbread the builders of today seem to have forgotten. Visitors can also tour the 1859 Jail, Marshal’s Home & Museum, the Truman home, the Jackson County Courthouse where Truman served as a county judge in 1933 and even see a preserved log courthouse from 1827.

If shopping’s a concern, it shouldn’t be in Independence. One of the biggest draws for those with an itchy credit card finger is Independence Square. This destination has seven restaurants, antique shops and boutiques.

More than 100,000 may call Independence home, but don’t for a second think the old-time charm is lost. A calendar chock full of community events speaks to the city’s sense of community. Each month offers its own surprises with holiday festivals, historic celebrations, lectures and more bringing both residents and visitors together. Close-knit with one foot rooted in the past and the other in the present, Independence’s commitment to its residents, historic preservation and small-town values make it easy to see why so many call it home.

Although living in the shadow of Kansas City, the communities that make up East Jackson County offer plenty of reasons to call them home. From the quaint charm of towns like Buckner and Blue Springs to the historic roots of Independence, East Jackson County stands proud knowing it’s a great place to live, work and visit.

by Tiffany Lewis, Kansas City Premier Apartments, Inc.

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