Big City Tales

Kicking It Up in Kansas City

March 22, 2018
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If you’re a fan of the National Football League and the glorious spectacle that is game day, Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri needs to be on your bucket list. Whether scoring a touchdown or tackling an opponent, fans of the Kansas City Chiefs are known for their uber-boisterous cheering that has set two Guinness Book of World Records for loudest stadium noise. But kicking it up in Kansas City (KC for short) is not just confined to the football field; the city offers a host of other unique aspects, and interesting activities and venues to get excited about. As the locals know, the ‘Paris of the Plains’ is an urban-chic metropolis begging to be explored.

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City of Fountains

The obsession with water fountains in KC dates back to the late 1800s when a man named George Kessler, a landscape architect and urban planner, was inspired by the City Beautiful Movement to design a fountain to be situated along The Paseo parkway that runs through the city center. Kessler’s fountain would be the first of many to be installed around the city. Today, there are 49 ornamental fountains that are maintained by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department with the support of the City of Fountains Foundation that is dedicated to the preservation of these historical treasures.

Located at 47 Street and Main, the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain is the city’s most well-known fountain. It was sculpted by Henri Greber, a French artist, and features four equestrian figures.

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Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

KC is one of 28 cities around the world fortunate to have a cast of The Thinker, Auguste Rodin’s famous sculpture, on permanent public display. The cast sits on the south side of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art overlooking the Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park. The sculpture park is noted for its collection of Henry Moore bronze monuments, and the Shuttlecocks display that features four over-sized badminton birdies scattered around the back lawn.

In addition to its eclectic exterior sculptures, the museum is home to the Hallmark Photographic Collection, as well as an extensive number of European and American paintings and Asian art pieces.

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Kauffmann Center for the Performing Arts

Aside from its eye-catching exterior design, the Kauffmann Center for the Performing Arts is heralded for its interior technical innovations that have revolutionized the way artistic companies deliver their programs and how patrons experience live music, opera, theater, and dance.

Located downtown, the center is home to the Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony, and Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Each of the building’s shells contain performance halls that feature a glass roof and glass walls. In the main foyer, the Brandmeyer Great Hall provides a panoramic view of the city.

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National World War I Museum and Memorial

As America’s official museum dedicated to World War I, the National World War I Museum and Memorial opened in 1926 and tells the story of events leading up to the conflict’s beginning in 1914 through to the Armistice in 1918 and the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

The central Liberty Tower is constructed of limestone and stands 217-feet tall. The top of the tower emits light at night that looks like a burning flame and can be seen from far away.

Another notable feature of the museum is the glass bridge that visitors cross to enter the main exhibit space. Underneath the bridge is a field of 9,000 red poppies, each poppy representing 1,000 lives lost in combat.

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Do It All in KC

With its many sports offerings and exuberant fans, its picturesque and peaceful fountains, its lively arts and culture communities, and its well-preserved civic, state and national history monuments there really is a lot to see and do in KC.

Singing Anything but the Blues in St. Louis

March 18, 2018
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It may not be the official ‘home of the blues’ but the genre is certainly a central part of the music scene in St. Louis, Missouri. Thankfully, the city’s vibe is not defined by the melancholy overtones often expressed in blues’ lyrics. Rather, visitors are sure to be singing anything but the blues as they explore this vibrant and ‘spirited’ metropolis.

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Gateway to the West

Created as a symbolic expression of American expansion to the west, the Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis is the city’s most iconic landmark. The arch is located at the official spot where the city was founded along the banks of the Mississippi River and marks the entrance into Gateway Arch National Park.

A unique feature of the arch’s construction is that its height and width are the same at 630 feet. There is also an observation area near the top that offers a 30-mile view to the west and east.

The arch is reflective of the soaring spirit of the region’s early pioneers and is intended to inspire future generations to continually strive for new frontiers.

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Forest Park Welcomes the World

1904 was a BIG year in St. Louis as the city played host to the Summer Olympics and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (also referred to as the St. Louis World’s Fair).

Covering nearly 1,300 acres and offering a wide array of amenities, Forest Park was the ideal location to welcome the world in. During the Olympics, the diving, swimming and water polo events were held in the park. For the World’s Fair, parts of the park were redesigned and new structures such as the Grand Basin and statues such as ‘The Apotheosis of St. Louis’ were added giving the park a sense of grandeur appreciated by both the attendees and permanent city residents.

Today, the park is heralded as the ‘Heart of St. Louis’ and hosts several cultural, entertainment and athletic events such as a hot air balloon competition, music festival, beer festival and nighttime bike race. The St. Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center, and Missouri History Museum, and the Muny Ampitheatre are all located in the park making it the primary area for visiting important civic institutions.

The Rhythm of the Night

Along with the blues, the St. Louis music scene is also known for its long association with jazz and ragtime genres, as well as symphonic. The St. Louis Symphony is the second oldest symphony orchestra in the United States and has toured both nationally and internationally.

More recently, tribute bands and burlesque shows have added to the diversity of the city’s live music offerings. There is also a thriving folk music scene.

Neighborhoods such as Soulard and the Loop, and venues such as Blueberry Hill and Jazz St. Louis are typically rocking out the tunes nightly. There truly is something to satisfy everyone’s musical tastes.

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Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Busch Stadium is home to the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball, a team that has won 11 World Series championships in its highly successful history.

Attending a game in this retro-classic designed facility and taking in the fun activities in the adjoining Ballpark Village is a must for die-hard fans. Ballpark food options include St. Louis-area fare such as pork steak sandwiches and toasted ravioli.

Not unlike other downtown-based sports venues, the stadium also provides one of the best views of the city skyline that includes many office towers. The Old St. Louis County Courthouse is also clearly visible with its tall cast iron green dome that was modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. The courthouse is part of Gateway Arch National Park and was once the city’s tallest habitable building.

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Soak Up the Spirit of St. Louis

Beyond the glorious Gateway Arch and the city’s historic downtown district, the spirit of St. Louis permeates into all of its outlying neighborhoods. Wherever visitors venture, eclectic architecture, well-kept green spaces, specialty boutiques, artisan markets and more are in store…soak it up and enjoy!