Wedged between the Missouri River and Central Business District, the River Market was the first incorporated section of Kansas City, and second-most longstanding neighborhood after Westport.
Now home to the region’s largest farmer’s market and dozens of bars, restaurants and specialty shops, the joggers and passersby on the neighborhood’s brick, tree-lined sidewalks show the neighborhood’s reclaimed vitality despite a not-so-sunshiny history.
Originally known as Westport Landing and later as the River Quay, the area developed a reputation for mob violence under mafia control in the 1970s. A series of fires and bombings ravaged the neighborhood, costing the popular entertainment district its reputable status.
The redevelopment of the neighborhood’s historic farmer’s market in the 1980s brought people back into the neighborhood.
Beginning in the late 1990s, a wave of redevelopment created new office and residential construction, along with renovation of existing buildings into fashionable lofts and condos.
Best time to visit:
A warm Saturday. The City Market, encompassing a fourblock square between Delaware, Grand, Third and Fifth streets, attracts local farmers from around the region and has incredible deals on fresh produce. Not all of the produce is local; some vendors selling produce from national suppliers also offer amazing discounts.
In addition, several groceries and specialty shops specialize in Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian, African and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Restaurants include classics like Minsky’s Pizza, Winslow’s Barbecue, Cascone’s and Bo Lings.
People-watchers will enjoy the experience, as it represents a cross-section of Kansas City’s diverse cultures. The fun of shopping in an open-air market is an age-old experience many Americans have forgotten.
The unique collection of stores around the city market, which includes coffee shops, antique stores and various specialty retailers, provide a fun way to kill time or enjoy a weekend activity with friends.
Best of all, the City Market is easily accessible from campus. The Main Street MAX, which stops near Brookside Boulevard, ends at Third and Grand streets, which is diagonally across from the market.
Points of interest:
The Steamboat Arabia Museum, located inside the City Market, houses the collections of a steamboat that sank in 1856 in the Missouri River. Unearthed 132 years later by a team of researchers who now operate the museum, its extensive collection of artifacts from the boat give 21st century spectators a look at pioneer life. (Think chamber pots and bathing once in a blue moon.)
The 28-foot paddlewheel has been reconstructed and can be seen from outside the museum.
Adult admission is $14.50, and the museum is open seven days a week. More information can be found at www.1856.com.
Another point of interest is the Riverfront Heritage Trail, which connects to the River Market via a pedestrian bridge located at Second and Main streets. The trail, which will include 10 miles of biking and pedestrian paths once complete, connects to Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park, which is popular with bikers and pedestrians alike.