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Small Cities Make Up the South Kansas City Landscape

If South Kansas City had a theme, it would be small town America. Close knit and rich with history, the communities that make up the South Kansas City area are quite small in comparison with their larger neighbor. With the exception of Kansas City proper’s southern section, all the communities with the South Kansas City area are freestanding municipalities. Each is distinct. Each is unique. Each has its own draws that make people want to live within them, work within them and even spend their vacation time within their boundaries. But, each also lends their presence in making the Greater Kansas City area so great. The communities that make up the South Kansas City area include Grandview, Kansas City – South, Belton, Raymore, Pleasant Hill and Lee’s Summit.

Located entirely within the state of Missouri, the municipalities of South Kansas City are all relatively small in the grand scheme of things, but they each thrive within the metropolitan area, having their own paces, their own histories, and perhaps most importantly, their own identities. Grandview, for example, is considered a teeny city by some standards. In 1997, it had less than 30,000 residents, but its history is presidential – literally!

The small farming community started out as Anderson District and became its own entity in the late 1800s when residents wanted their own post office. To make this goal a reality, the town needed a name and Grandview was born. Harry S. Truman called Grandview home for 14 years, founding the community’s Masonic Lodge and serving as road overseer and post master before he moved on to bigger things. His family’s farmhouse is still a favorite stop for tourists.

With its multitude of restored historic buildings and small population – less than 7,000 during the 2000 Census, Pleasant Hill may look like the town time forgot, but don’t let appearances fool. This little town, built around the railroad, is passionate about history. In fact, the Pleasant Hill Historical Society runs a museum in a mansion once owned by a governor and the city is in the throes of renovating and restoring many of its old buildings, turning the town into a historic showplace to contrast and compliment neighboring Kansas City’s modernized developments. Pleasant Hill is also home to the Cass County Fair. Raymore’s small-town charms are making it a desirable community for living. The city’s population of 5,591 in the 1990 Census had nearly doubled by 2000 when 11,146 people called Raymore home. This fast-growing city is located in northwestern Cass County along U.S. 71, in close proximity with Kansas City. As it continues to grow, Raymore is making concerted efforts to welcome growth while maintaining its small-town charms.

Also in Cass County, Belton is a city of more than 20,000 people and is literally loaded with parks and community organizations. Although it touts proximity to its larger neighbor as a major draw, this little city offers a fair amount of its own attractions. From parks and trails to a thriving recreation program and a host of community events include the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting, Community Days and more, Belton strives to maintain its own flair while adding to the Greater Kansas City landscape.

Lee’s Summit – Everything A Little City Should Be.

The largest of South Kansas City’s cities, Lee’s Summit has all the perks of small-town living with a lot of big city advantages. With a total population that tops 86,000, Lee’s Summit packs a lot into its 63 square miles of city. With a knack for preserving its past and embracing its future, Lee’s Summit boasts a showpiece downtown that’s been restored to its former glory, complete with an antique-lover’s mecca of stores while also offering an 800,000-square-foot shopping center with major retail stores in its SummitWoods Crossing. While Lee’s Summit is known for its tight-knit neighborhoods and state and nationally-recognized schools, it’s also a major tourist draw with its historic preservation efforts, nearby Missouri Town 1855 and Stonehaus Farms Vineyard and Winery. Plus, Paradise Park, an entertainment area for children and adults, is located within its bounds.

Missouri Town 1855 is a living re-enactment of a Missouri farm in the 1800s, complete with more than 25 buildings that date to the period. This living history museum gives visitors a window into the past to see what life was like for early settlers. Stonehaus in an award-winning winery that welcomes visitors from noon to 6 p.m. daily, except major holidays, to come out and sample its wines and enjoy the countryside. An entertainment center for children and adults, Paradise Park has two quite distinct areas to offer visitors. The Children’s Edutainment Center offers family fun for children 9 and younger and their parents with interactive learning and play. It also features an outdoor play garden, café and coffeehouse. The Family Entertainment Center is for all ages and provides more than 35,000 square feet of games and other activities. In addition to its major attractions, Lee’s Summit is also home to many lakes, outdoor parks, libraries and more. Plus, it has the distinction of being one of Missouri’s largest cities.

If the Greater Kansas City Metropolitan area is judged by its individual pieces, the communities that make up South Kansas City truly hold their own. Each offering their own distinct qualities from presidential history to fantastic community events, strong neighborhoods and unique curiosities, the cities that come together to form this part of Kansas City stand on their own while adding substance and beauty to the overall Kansas City landscape.

by Tiffany Lewis, Kansas City Premier Apartments, Inc.

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