Kansas City: your basic geography

So the people over in Kansas City, Kansas, got a little huffy over a Jeopardy! question somewhere in the early ’90s. “Kansas City, Kansas, is a suburb of what city?” That would be Kansas City, Missouri, dingdingding.

This post is not for those who live here because we know there’s a Kansas City in Kansas and one in Missouri, too. We’re just tired of having to conduct extemporaneous geography lessons to people who think they know what they’re talking about.

I didn’t run into this until I moved to Provo, Utah, to go to Brigham Young University. I mean, you grow up here, it’s just part of your life. Like breathing.

I had to present my Missouri driver’s license to cash a check and the clerk (probably a college senior or thereabouts) took one look at it and said, “This is a fake ID. Hold on. I’m going to go get my manager.” Do what?

Kansas City, 1920
I informed her of the truth of the matter. “There is a Kansas City in Missouri.”

“No, there’s not.”

“Yes, there is. Get a map. Look it up. It’s a lot bigger than the one in Kansas.”

“I don’t have to. There is no Kansas City in Missouri.”

Meanwhile, the line behind me was getting a little impatient at this kindergarten display of “Uh HUH!”/“Nuh UH!”, but the clerk left and brought her manager back with the smug look of someone who knew a cheat and thief was about to get busted. “SHE,” she said, stabbing a finger my way, “is trying to pass this off as real.”

Manager looked at it, said, “What’s wrong with it?”

“Look at the address. There is no Kansas City in Missouri.”

Manager stared at her, his jaw on the floor. “Uh, yes there is. Cash the check.”

Not that anybody cares except we who feel a particular affinity for our city, but Kansas City, Missouri sprawls out over three counties: Jackson, Clay, and Platte*. The Missouri River separates the northern half from the southern half.

Kansas City, Kansas, is contained in one county: Wyandotte.

Those are just the cities proper. The Kansas City metro area is comprised of at least six very large cities and eight counties (inclusive of both states), with sprawl threatening to add another eight counties to that list.

And oh, by the way. Olathe is pronounced o-LAY-thuh, not OH-lath.
*So, okay, The Proviso takes place in Jackson and Platte counties, except poor Platte County, whose name I felt obliged to change to Chouteau County.

I didn’t want to accuse anyone in Platte County of nefarious goings-on; I’m sure the prosecutor up there is a very nice person and not inclined toward graft, corruption, and murder like, say, Knox Hilliard.

Likewise, Platte City (Platte County’s county seat) turned into Chouteau City and Platte Woods (one of many wee munici- palities dotting the metro and terribly, terribly Hansel-and- Gretelish, like fairy-tale eye candy, really) turned into Chouteau Woods. Eilis Logan, one of the three female protagonists in the book, lives on Maple Lane.

So you think we should put a map in the book or not?

6 thoughts on “Kansas City: your basic geography

  • July 21, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    So when is this piece of luscious wordage going to be available for purchase?

  • July 21, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    October, ma’am. It’s with my editor as we speak. Rewrites, then formatting for digitation and sending on to those lords of POD, Lightning Source.

    And thank you for asking. I think I shall go squee in my bathroom so as not to wake up the children. 😉

    By the way, loved your post over at RTB.

  • July 21, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Congratulations! I’ll be looking out for it. The excerpt was fantastic. Thanks for not throwng any tomatos, too. It’s a Monday, my ducking reflexes aren’t so fast. 🙂

  • July 21, 2008 at 4:42 pm


    Everyone loves a map. But it does imply certain things about a book, things which I don’t think are true about yourn.

  • July 21, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Th., you’re right about the implication. My editor will let me know if I’ve dodged that bullet.

    One of the very few books on my keeper shelf has a map of a fictitious Caribbean island in the front and I blew right past it. I just don’t like maps in books, even in science fiction/fantasy where the world has nothing to do with earth as we know it.

    My wondering about a map has less to do with reader orientation than a desire for everyone in the world to love KC as much as I do. As if a map could do that!

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