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Northland

Over the course of his 70-year career, architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed about 1,100 skyscrapers, hotels, churches, museums, and homes. More than 500 of these were built, and seven are in Kansas and Missouri. 

In Missouri: 

Bott House (1956, built 1963)
3640 NW Briarcliff Road, Kansas City

This double-cantilever house perches on a bluff just north of downtown Kansas City, with dramatic views of the city and the Missouri River. It's in the Usonian style — a small, single-story home in an L-shape. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Briarcliff Hills, in Kansas City's Northland, is a neighborhood with spectacular views of the city and the Missouri River Valley. But the cars driving through on a recent Saturday morning at a snail’s pace aren’t here for that view. They’re eager to glimpse the private home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1957 for Frank and Eloise Bott.

For fans of the celebrated American architect, the Bott House is a sort of pilgrimage.

Centers For Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) moves high school juniors and seniors from the classroom to professional environments to learn. Hear how the program works and what it offers students.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

By next school year, dozens of students in the North Kansas City School District will finally have a somewhat safer way to walk to school.

Students who live within blocks of Maplewood Elementary School on North Freemont Avenue have been bused to school for years because the district deemed the walk too dangerous.

IAS Partners

Once the driving retail force in Kansas City's Nothland, Metro North Mall has declined over the past 15 years. Now, its pitted asphalt parking lots have become storage space for vehicles produced at the Ford plant awaiting shipment.

Little remains of the past retail environment except a Macy's store. 

"Right now it's the definition of 'blight' because you have vacant buildings that are in a crumbling condition.  said Northland Councilman Dan Fowler. "I saw what happened when the same thing happened to Antioch Mall and it wasn't pretty.”

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

This story was rebroadcast as part of our best-of 2015 series. It was originally reported in September 2015.

The Missouri River shaped Kansas City.

It ferried traders and explorers. It helped establish Kansas City's reputation as a transportation hub.

Slaves escaped across the river, where some settled in the town of Old Quindaro in the Kansas Territory, soon to be Free Kansas.  

Sam Zeff / KCUR

It’s the kind of story that’s a little hard to believe until you visit the neighborhood.

Just after 8 a.m., a school bus stops on North Freemont Avenue and kids pile on.

They have their backpacks, lunches and homework. It all seems normal.

Except they only live a few blocks from the school and aren't allowed to walk.

It would take Jessica Andrews’ four kids about five minutes to walk to Maplewood Elementary School in the Northland. “We’re really, really close. Why aren't they walking, it’s so close? There’s no sidewalks. It’s not safe for them to walk."

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

The counties and the towns across the Missouri River from what we know as Kansas City-proper have had an identity of their own for a long time. And you don't have to live here long to figure that out.

Scratch the surface of an old-timer up here and you might find some of the Old West.

Up To Code

Aug 21, 2015

How long can you neglect your yard before the city gets  involved? On this edition of Up To Date, we talk about how homeowners can run afoul of city codes and the consequences for different violations.

Guests:

  • Kim Hendershot is the supervisor of code compliance for the City of Overland Park.
  • Sean Ackerson is the assistant city administrator for the City of Parkville.

Red-X today
Leigh Burmesch / KCUR

Before Walmart or Target, there was Red-X.

 

A fixture in the Northland’s Riverside community for more than 65 years, Red-X is not your average general store. For one, it’s monolithic. The L-shaped building takes up about 85,000 square feet. It’s a grocer, deli, pharmacy, liquor store, hardware store and unofficial museum.

 

Frank Morris / KCUR

More than four out of five Kansas City area residents have to cross the Missouri river to get to Kansas City International Airport.  For many it’s a lengthy drive, one that begs the question “why is our airport so far?”  

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Slavery along the Missouri River in what is now the Kansas City metro area was not the slavery of Gone With The Wind.

University of Missouri-Kansas City history professor Diane Mutti-Burke, who has written extensively about slavery in Missouri, says slave owners tended to have less than 20 slaves. Those with more than 20 are historically defined as "plantations."

Kelsey Smith

This story was rebroadcast as part of our best-of 2015 series. It was originally reported in August 2015.

Squirrels can be found just about anywhere in the Kansas City area, from the densest parts of the urban core, to rural prairie or forest settings.

They typically are a grayish color, brown or an orangey red, but recent black squirrels sightings in one Northland neighborhood have residents curious about the origins of their new dark furry neighbors.

Where do you go to interact with your neighbors? Whether it's a soccer field, outdoor movie screening or a gathering of food trucks in a public park — or even a created space that a local artist filled with hammocks — we explore what makes for a good gathering spot.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

If you've been to Macken Park in North Kansas City recently you may have found yourself suddenly surrounded by food trucks. That's because of a of trial food truck "pod" program the city hopes will bring new tastes and visitors to North Kansas City.

The Northland News reported last week that not everyone from North Kansas City is excited about this new gathering spot.

Northlanders who use the southbound Interstate 35 to get onto northbound I-29 should expect delays this weekend when the Missouri Department of Transportation closes the ramp for repairs.

The ramp from southbound I-35/I-29 to Parvin Road will also close, as well one lane of northbound I-29 at Davidson Road to accommodate bridge repairs.

"We'll have a signed detour in place," says MoDOT resident engineer Zach Walker, "which will be southbound I-35 to Levee Road and then back up to northbound 35."

Cody Newill / KCUR

In 1992, Missouri voters legalized riverboat casinos along the state's waterways. The promise was that tax revenue would soar for local communities and state education coffers would be filled. 

And for Kansas City's smaller Northland communities of Riverside and North Kansas City, that's largely been the case. Both cities have grown to depend on revenue from their casinos, though there have been some costs that come along with legalized gambling.

Transforming the Northland

How Well Do You Know The Northland? Name That Downtown

Aug 9, 2015
Caroline Kull / KCUR

Talking about downtown in the Kansas City area can be tricky.

That's because there's more than just one.

Smaller cities pepper the metro, particularly north of the Missouri River.

And while the skylines of these municipalities don't stand as tall as Kansas City's, these often historic districts are just as iconic for their respective communities.

Courtesy photo / Snow and Co.

If your stomach is grumbling in the Kansas City area, the Missouri River plays a big role on how to satisfy those hunger pangs.

“It’s very much a psychological thing, you think you’re crossing into another country (when you cross the Missouri River),” said Jerry Nevins, co-owner of Snow & Co., an upscale frozen cocktail bar that started in the Crossroads Arts District. “Most everybody goes south.”

Just south of the river, you’ll find a plethora of dining options at independent restaurants in Kansas City on both sides of the state line.

Maureen Didde--CC / flickr

 A tweet by the City of Smithville caught our eye the other day — according to the United States Census Bureau, their population is on the verge of hitting 10,000.  

 

Northland suburbs are growing in leaps and bounds — much faster than downtown Kansas City, or communities like Overland Park.  

 

Julie Denesha / KCUR

My colleague, Donna Vestal, and her husband Eric like living in the Northland.

They have space. Their expansive backyard spills down from their deck like their own personal park where they enjoy a rural kind of quiet.

They like their living situation well enough to endure what can easily be a 30-minute commute daily across the Missouri River.

To save gas, Donna and Eric frequently commute together. He works downtown and she works at KCUR in Midtown.

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Cara Smith didn't move to Parkville, Missouri, for the Missouri River.

But that's why she stayed.

Caroline Kull / KCUR

Pull in to the tiny Nelle Belle’s diner (pronounced “nell-ee bells”) on U.S. Highway 69 in Claycomo any weekday morning, and you’re likely to find the parking lot packed.

Most Kansas Citians have heard of Claycomo — officially called The Village of Claycomo — but how much do we really know about it? The mayor of Claycomo tells us more about his village — and dispels some myths.

Why Is Downtown Kansas City South Of The River?

Jul 10, 2015
Vincent Parsons / Flickr--CC

There’s something pretty obvious about how the Missouri River divides Kansas City: All the tall buildings are on one side of the river. It seems downtown Kansas City is firmly entrenched on the south side of the river. But … why?

Courtesy photo / Village of Claycomo

Last week, Jim Stoufer went to the Walmart in Liberty at 1 a.m.

He had just gotten off his shift at the Ford Motor Co.’s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo. The plant had closed for the week for its annual summer maintenance, and local businesses were feeling the effect.

KCUR Wants Your Photos Of Kansas City’s Northland

Jul 7, 2015
Julie Denesha / KCUR

We’re learning a lot about the Northland in Kansas City.

But we know you know more.

As KCUR continues its look at the Missouri River as a dividing line in Kansas City — part of our Beyond Our Borders project — we’re posting photos of life north of the river on a new Tumblr site called Northland Exposure.

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

The Northland. Kansas City north. Northtown (also spelled Northtowne in some cases.)

Whatever you call the part of the Kansas City metropolitan area north of the Missouri River, we wanted to know more about its boundaries. But the answer is a little muddy.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

It's a big week for the Broadway Bridge – expect lane closures and delays as inspectors check the safety of the 60-year-old structure.

“The paint looks OK on Broadway, but when you really get in your bucket truck and you hang over the edge and start looking underneath, there is a lot of deterioration, a lot of areas — they call it section loss,” says Brian Kidwell, assistant Kansas City district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Two years ago, inspectors found problems — big ones — that necessitated closing the bridge for repairs.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

It doesn’t take long to drive a car across the Missouri River.

Depending on traffic, the roughly half-mile trek can take just one minute. But if you don’t have a car, the Missouri River can seem like a much larger obstacle.

According to the U.S. Census, about 84 percent of the Kansas City metro population drives alone to work. That leaves the other 16 percent commuting by other means, like carpooling, public transit, walking, biking or just working from home.

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