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Fun fact: yes, there are two Kansas Cities. And yes, the important one is in Missouri, not Kansas. Don't let anyone confuse you on this.
Despite this, when people refer to "Kansas City," they generally mean the entire metropolitan area, which possesses a population of a little more than two million people. Certainly, most works of fiction don't make it a point of drawing the distinction between Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.
The Missouri KC contains most of what people think of when they think of Kansas City. That includes the two major sports franchises in the area (Major League Baseball's Royals and the National Football League's Chiefs), the architecture and the culture. It features more fountains than any city in the world, save Rome, and more boulevards than any city in the world, save Paris.
The city is famous in part for its jazz, in part for its barbecue and in part for its mafia. Kansas City played a small, but not unimportant role in the country's racial drama during the early-to-mid 20th century. Jackie Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball's color barrier, played with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League before signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Negro League Baseball Museum sits at the famous intersection of 18th and Vine St. where the aforementioned race, crime and music came together.
Kansas City also plays a small role in film history as the place where Walt Disney began his animation career (It's said that a mouse in his film studio gave him the inspiration for Mickey Mouse). Many of the locals he hired — Ub Iwerks, Friz Freleng, Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising — went on to successful careers as well.
Kansas City in fiction
- Robert Altman's 1996 film Kansas City is about...well, the setting is certainly obvious. It emphasizes the crime and the jazz. Altman himself was a Kansas City native.
- The city plays a tangential role in the mafia flick Casino. While the movie is set in Las Vegas, the characters repeatedly refer to the bosses "back in Kansas City," and a small handful of scenes take place in a Kansas City restaurant.
- The song "Kansas City" (featuring the famous lyrics "Kansas City/Kansas City here I come"), obviously.
- The call center manager from Outsourced (TV series) is from Kansas City. The town's barbecue is referenced a handful of times (he unsuccessfully tries to import some ribs), and one episode revolves around his attempts to catch a Chiefs game in India.
- The X-Files episode "Fight Club" takes place in Kansas City.
- Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew mentioned on occasion its Earth-C counterpart, "Kornsas City," including where Timmy Joe Terrapin (aka Fastback) was heading in search of work just before gaining superpowers. Earth-C's version of the song "Kansas City" is also seen here, as well as mention of the nearby small town of "Abalone" (Earth-C's Abilene, Kansas).
- In the Drawn Together episode where Xander roleplays to prepare to come out to his parents, Foxxy Love tells him to go to an orphanage in Kansas City, Missouri on her behalf to apologize to her son for abandoning him.
- The United States of Tara takes place in Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City.
- Eric Stonestreet, one of the stars of Modern Family, is from Kansas City. He was the guest of honor at the illumination ceremony for the famous Country Club Plaza's Christmas lights. It's a big deal in KC.
- Everything's up to date in Kansas City! They've gone about as fur as they can go...