Kansas City in Jackson County, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
From Steamboat Landing to City
The town was only a spark in 1834 when entrepreneur and tradesman John Calvin McCoy cut a primitive path from this store to a prominent rock ledge on the river – a perfect landing for riverboats. The steamboat John Hancock, laden with goods for McCoy, was the first to dock at Westport Landing. In the same year, McCoy laid out lots around his store four miles south of the river and named it Westport.
Commerce prospered during the Mexican War (1846 to 1848) with increased Santa Fe, Oregon, and California trade. The California gold rush of 1848 brought thousands of emigrants rushing west to Pacific coast via Westport Landing and the town of Kansas. By 1849 the town included “some eight or ten stores, several blacksmith’s shops, a gunsmith’s shop, wagon maker’s shop, three hotels, &c.&c.”
On February 23, 1853, the town of Kansas officially became the City of Kansas based on the charter received by the Missouri Legislature. Two years later, workers began to cut back the towering bluffs along the river and widen the levee. By 1855 the town was thriving with a bright and promising future. The town changed its name to Kansas City in 1889.
In 1838, McCoy and 13 other Jackson County residents formed the self-styled Town Company. For $4,220, they purchased a 257-acre tract of prime riverfront property that included the up and coming Westport Landing. McCoy platted 15 acres for the town and the company agreed to call it Kansas. Legal Squabbles stalled development for eight years, but they cleared up in 1846 and a new survey made investment and development possible.
Photograph courtesy of Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri.
Erected by National Park Service and Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association.
Location. 39° 6.748′ N, 94° 35.051′ W. Marker is in Kansas City, Missouri, in Jackson County. Marker can be reached from Main Street. Touch for map. About two thirds of the way down the Riverfront Heritage Trail to the Town of Kansas Observation deck, in cove on the east(right)side. Marker is in this post office area: Kansas City MO 64106, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Waterfront Town to Metropolis (here, next to this marker); Hannibal Bridge (within shouting distance of this marker); Building Through the Bluffs (within shouting distance of this marker); Gilliss House Hotel (within shouting distance of this marker); City Market (approx. 0.2 miles away); W. H. Morgan & Company (approx. ¼ mile away); J. P. Campbell & Company Building (approx. ¼ mile away); The Old Chouteau Trading Post / Le Vieil Etablissement Commercial Chouteau (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Kansas City.
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 20, 2015, by Michael W. Kruse of Kansas City, Missouri. This page has been viewed 216 times since then and 51 times this year. Photo 1. submitted on August 20, 2015, by Michael W. Kruse of Kansas City, Missouri. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.