KANSAS CITY, MO (WAVE) - Kansas City was once considered the crossroads of the world, and has produced legends across the worlds of sports, food, art, politics and culture. It’s fitting then, that Kansas City is the meeting point for four teams around the country, on the biggest stage in college basketball.
It sits at the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers, straddles the Missouri-Kansas state line, and was called the crossroads of the world, when the Missouri-Pacific railroad came to town in 1865, and again when native President Harry Truman went into office.
A quick walk around the city, and it’s evident the thriving cultural scene and rich history that remain in this jewel of the midwest. The smell of signature barbecue blankets the town, while jazz spills out of clubs and onto the streets.
Bluegrass natives can identify with the entrepreneurial spirit of the many taverns that still stand on the Missouri side of the river from prohibition era. During prohibition in 1881, Kansas enacted a state-wide ban on alcohol sales. But those locals wishing to imbibe could simply drive across to the Missouri side of the city, where alcohol wasn’t banned.
Legends Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige and Ernie Banks played here for the Kansas City Monarchs, the longest-running franchise in baseball’s Negro League.
President Harry Truman got his start as a business owner and then Jackson County judge in Kansas City, before going on to serve as Senator, Vice President and the 33rd President of the United States.
Even creatives such as Walt Disney have been inspired by Kansas City. Disney was said to have drawn the original inspiration for Mickey Mouse after seeing a mouse in his office at the Kansas City Art Institute.
Before the first game tips off, Kentucky, Auburn, Houston and North Carolina will have traveled collectively more than 3,181 miles to get to their Sweet 16 matchups.
They’re creating their own history already, with Houston and Kentucky meeting for the first time in more than a decade, and Auburn and North Carolina in their first meeting since 1985.
All come to Kansas City like many before, some industrious, some creative, all hoping for a chance to write their stories, in a city that’s been the setting for so many throughout history.