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MAPS: Demographics Show State Line Is Not A Significant Border In Kansas City

Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service
University of Virginia

The Kansas City metropolitan area is steeped in state line rivalry.

University of Kansas Jayhawks and University of Missouri Tigers have grudges dating back to the pre-Civil War years. Jackson County, Mo., and Johnson County, Kan., are politically divided, and we even have a road called 'State Line Road' to mark which side is which. 

But data show that the Missouri-Kansas border doesn't divide us as much as these stark divisions would lead you to believe. When you look at race, education levels and income, people on both sides of the state line in the metro area are more similar than they are different.

KCUR is looking at the Missouri-Kansas state line as part of our Beyond Our Borders project, an attempt to explore the borders in the Kansas City metropolitan area that divide us. In the spring and summer, we focused on Troost Avenue in Kansas City, Mo.

The racial demographics of state line aren't nearly as stark as what we saw with the visualizations ofTroost. There are higher concentrations of Hispanic and Asian residents on the Kansas side of state line, but in general, the racial demographics are loosely mirrored along the state line.

The most diverse part of state line is along the north near the urban cores of Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., but both sides look very similar. White residents are more prominent farther south in Kansas City, Mo.,  in Johnson County, Kan., and in the Grandview area in Missouri — as seen in this map created using 2010 U.S. Census data.

Median household income along the state line is more varied. In some areas along Ward Parkway in Kansas City, Mo., and the Kansas cities of Fairway and Westwood, the median household income crosses the state line in a bubble of affluence. 

But looking farther south along the state line in the metro area shows some significant income disparity. Leawood, Kan., has median income levels ranging from $80,000 to more than $140,000, while the Missouri side directly across state line barely rises above $60,000. The map also uses U.S. Census data, and was created by WNYC.

State line from 75th Street north (left), and state line from 75th Street south (right). CLICK TO ENLARGE

Education levels are very similar to median household income levels for both sides of the state line. The Kansas cities of Fairway, Leawood and Westwood, situated just over the state line, all have high percentages of residents who hold bachelors' degrees, as do several areas along Ward Parkway just across the line to the Missouri side. 

In the below map, Johnson County, Kan., and the area just across the state line in Kansas City, Mo., have similar populations who have earned bachelor's degrees — but disparities start to show across state line to the north, near Interstate 35. The data in this map is slightly more current, using data from the 2012 Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. 

State line from 75th Street north (left), and state line from 75th Street south (right). CLICK TO ENLARGE

This look at the Missouri-Kansas state line is part of KCUR's months-long examination of how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City. KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders  and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism.

We will share the history of these lines, how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what’s being done to bridge or dissolve them. Be a source for Beyond Our Borders: Share your perspective and experiences on the state line with KCUR.

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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