Kansas City is a city full of surprises and hidden gems. From quirky attractions to fascinating history, there are plenty of fun and unique facts about the city that the average person may not know. In this article, we’ll highlight some of the most surprising and entertaining facts about Kansas City.

#1. Kansas City Was Once Home to a Cow-Parade

In 2001, Kansas City was home to the CowParade, a public art exhibit featuring over 100 life-sized cow sculptures painted by local artists. The cows were displayed throughout the city, and the exhibit was a huge hit with locals and tourists alike.

#2. The World’s Largest Shuttlecocks Are in Kansas City

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is home to four giant shuttlecock sculptures, each standing 18 feet tall and weighing 2.5 tons. The sculptures, created by artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, have become an iconic symbol of the museum and the city.

#3. The City Was Home to a Fake Mayor for Over a Century

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Kansas City was known for its corrupt political scene. In 1874, a man named Lou Holland was elected as “mayor” of Kansas City, even though he was not actually a real candidate. The position of “mayor” became a figurehead role, with various people assuming the title over the years.

#4. The First Successful Fetal Heart Transplant Was Performed in Kansas City

In 1960, Dr. Norman Shumway performed the world’s first successful fetal heart transplant at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. The procedure paved the way for modern fetal surgery and saved countless lives.

#5. Kansas City was Home to the World’s Largest Water Slide

Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Kansas City was home to the Verr├╝ckt, the world’s tallest and fastest water slide. The slide stands at 168 feet tall and reaches speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. However, following the fatal injuries sustained by a visitor, the park permanently closed in 2018. 

#6. The City is a Hotbed for UFO Sightings

Kansas City has a high number of reported UFO sightings, making it a hotspot for extraterrestrial enthusiasts. The city even has its own UFO research group, the Kansas City Chapter of the Mutual UFO Network.

#7. Kansas City Has a Sordid History of Organized Crime

During the Prohibition era, Kansas City was known as a hub for organized crime, with figures like Al Capone and Bugsy Siegel making frequent visits to the city. The city’s history of gangsters and bootleggers is still celebrated today with tours and exhibits.

#8. The City is Home to the World’s Only Nuclear Reactor Used for Research

The University of Missouri in Kansas City is home to the Missouri University Research Reactor, the only nuclear reactor in the world that is used for both research and education. The reactor is used for a variety of purposes, including medical isotope production, neutron activation analysis, and nuclear engineering research.

#9. Kansas City Was the Birthplace of Walt Disney

Walt Disney, the legendary animator and creator of Mickey Mouse and Disneyland, was born in Chicago but spent much of his childhood in Kansas City. He attended art classes at the Kansas City Art Institute and began his animation career in the city before moving to California.

#10. The City is Home to a Giant Book Vending Machine

Book vending machine called the Biblio-Mat located in a Kansas City public library
The Biblio-Mat

The public library in Kansas City is home to a giant book vending machine called the Biblio-Mat. The machine, which was created by a Toronto-based bookshop, dispenses randomly-selected used books for just $2 each.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Kansas City is a city full of surprises and fascinating history. From its sordid past to its quirky attractions, there’s always something new and interesting to discover in this Midwestern city. By exploring some of the surprising facts and hidden gems listed above, you can gain a new appreciation for this unique and vibrant city.

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