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25 Things You Should Know About Kansas City

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There's more to the City of Fountains than just barbecue. (Although the barbecue is legendary.) Study up before your next visit to the midwestern metropolis of 467,000.

1. Kansas City spans two states: Missouri and Kansas. The international airport, baseball stadium and football stadium are all on the Missouri side. The professional soccer team and the NASCAR race track are found on the Kansas side.

2. And you can be in both states at the same time if you stand on State Line Road, which runs north-south along the border of Missouri and Kansas.

3. However, the two states have not always been on friendly terms. During the Civil War, violence erupted across Kansas between abolitionists and fighters from slave state Missouri over whether or not Kansas would allow slavery. The state during this time became known as “Bleeding Kansas.”

 

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4.
Much of the city’s early economy was based on the Kansas City Stock Yards, which traded cattle, hogs, sheep, horses and mules.

5. In 1899, breeders established the American Royal Livestock and Horse Show, which, at the time, was the only livestock show in the country. The event is still held annually in the city.

 


6.
Speaking of cows, Kansas City is home to some great barbecue. In 1908, Henry Perry started his stand of smoked meats that catered to workers in the Garment District. He shared his secrets with Charlie Bryant, whose brother, Arthur, took over the eponymous restaurant after Charlie’s death.

7. A more recent addition, Joe’s Kansas City, was voted the best southern barbecue in the country by readers of USA Today.

8. The city is home to 200 fountains and claims that only Rome has more. Early architects of the city are said to have wanted to create an urban landscape with “more boulevards than Paris, more fountains than Rome.

 

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9.
Notorious outlaw of the late 1800s Jesse James was born north of Kansas City and began his criminal career robbing banks, stagecoaches, and trains in the area. James and his gang once raided the Kansas City Fairgrounds.

10. In the early 20th century, the city was controlled by political boss Tom Pendergast who ran the local Democratic Party. Pendergast directed the flow of illegal alcohol during Prohibition and rigged elections to keep his friends in power, including hand-picking Harry S. Truman as the next U.S. senator from Missouri.

11. Jazz lives at 18th and Vine. The area around the intersection became popular during the 1920s for its music and nightlife.

 

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12.
Speaking of great jazz, Charlie Parker was born in Kansas City in 1920.

13. The area is also home to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, a privately-funded museum filled with memorabilia and exhibits about African-American baseball in the U.S. The roster of the Kansas City Monarchs, the Negro league's team in the city, boasted legendary players such as Satchel Paige, Buck O’Neil, and Jackie Robinson.

14. If you’re looking to go shopping in Kansas City, the place to visit is the Country Club Plaza. The fifteen-block area is filled with shops, restaurants, and a movie theater. During the Christmas season, the buildings are lined with Christmas lights that turn on at sundown every evening.

15. Walt Disney’s family moved to Kansas City when he was nine years old. While in elementary school, Disney took drawing classes on the weekend at the Kansas City Art Institute.

16. Union Station in Kansas City opened in 1914, and during WWII, an estimated one million travelers passed through the station. It was closed in the 1980s, but was renovated and reopened in 1999.

 

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17.
Across from Union Station sits the Liberty Memorial, home to the only World War I museum in the United States.

18. Boulevard Brewery on Southwest Boulevard is the largest specialty brewer in the Midwest.

19. As part of an effort to revitalize the downtown area, the Power and Light District, a shopping and entertainment neighborhood, was opened in 2008. Eight blocks of the area are exempt from the city’s open container laws.

20. GPS company Garmin and mobile phone provider Sprint both call the Kansas City metropolitan area home.

21. In 1998, Sprint built a massive 200-acre headquarters campus in Overland Park, Kan. At the time, it was the largest corporate headquarters in the Midwest.

22. In 2011, it was announced that Kansas City would be the first city in the country to receive Google Fiber, the company’s broadband internet service that boasts speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.

23. Sporting KC, the area’s professional soccer team, was one of the founding members of the MLS (under the name the Kansas City Wiz). The team has won the MLS Cup twice. 

24. The Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL team, has only won the Super Bowl once, but that didn’t keep fans of the team from breaking the world record for loudest NFL stadium by creating 142.2 decibels of noise at a game in September 2014.

25. The number one rival of the Kansas City Royals baseball team is the cross-state St. Louis Cardinals. The team not only made the World Series finals for the first time in 29 years in 2014, but singer Lorde is said to have been inspired to write her single “Royals” after seeing a photo of the team’s former third baseman George Brett

 

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IKEA
IKEA's New Collection for Tiny Apartments Is Inspired by Life on Mars
IKEA
IKEA

Living in a city apartment can feel claustrophobic at times. As Co.Design reports, the Swedish furniture brand IKEA took this experience to the extreme when designers visited a simulated Mars habitat as research for their latest line of housewares aimed at urbanites.

The new collection, called Rumtid, is tailored to fit the cramped spaces that many people are forced to settle for when apartment-hunting in dense, expensive cities. The designers knew they wanted to prioritize efficiency and functionality with their new project, and Mars research provided the perfect inspiration.

At the Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, scientists are figuring out how to meet the needs of potential Mars astronauts with very limited resources. Materials have to be light, so that they require as little rocket fuel as possible to ferry them to the red planet, and should ideally run on renewable energy.

IKEA's designers aren't facing quite as many challenges, but spending a few days at the simulated Martian habitat in Utah got them thinking on the right track. The team also conducted additional research at the famously snug capsule hotels in Tokyo. The Rumtid products they came up with include an indoor terrarium shaped like a space-age rocket, a set of colorful, compact air purifiers, and light-weight joints and bars that can be snapped into modular furniture.

The collection isn't ready to hit IKEA shelves just yet—the chain plans to make Rumtid available for customers by 2020. In the meantime, the designers hope to experiment with additional science fiction-worthy ideas, including curtains that clean the air around them.

Air purifiers designed for urban living.

Furniture joints on bubble wrap on black table.

Modular furniture holding water bag.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of IKEA.

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8 Projects That Reenvision the Traditional Cemetery
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Globally, nearly 57 million people died in 2016. If you happen to be a cemetery caretaker, you might be wondering where we managed to put them all. Indeed, many cemeteries in the world’s major cities are filling up fast, with no choice left but to tear up walkways, trees, and green spaces just to make room for more graves.

In response to these concerns, a variety of visionaries have attempted to reimagine the modern cemetery. These plans tend to fall into one of two camps: Biologists and environmentalists have brainstormed alternate methods for disposing of bodies, some of which are said to be better for the planet than the traditional methods of burial and cremation. Meanwhile, architects have looked at ways of adapting the burial space itself, whether that means altering a traditional cemetery or creating something new and more ephemeral. Here are just a few of the creative ideas that have emerged in recent years.

1. VERTICAL CEMETERIES

As cemeteries started running out of ground to dig, it was only a matter of time before they started building up. There's been a lot of talk about skyscraper cemeteries in recent years, although the idea dates back to at least 1829, when British architect Thomas Willson proposed a 94-story mausoleum in London.

"The vertical cemetery, with its open front, will become a significant part of the city and a daily reminder of death’s existence," says Martin McSherry, whose design for an open-air skyscraper cemetery with layers of park-like burial grounds was one of the proposals presented at the Oslo Conference for Nordic Cemeteries and Graveyards in 2013. Another recent plan by architecture students in Sweden suggested repurposing a cluster of silos into a vertical columbarium (a place to store urns). Brazil’s Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica was one of the first places to implement this vertical concept back in 1984, and at 32 stories high, it currently holds the Guinness World Record for the tallest cemetery.

2. REUSABLE GRAVES

For much of human history, graves were often reused, or common graves were dug deep enough to accommodate multiple bodies stacked one on top of the other. “Our current cemetery design is actually a pretty new thing,” Allison Meier, a New York City cemetery tour guide (and Mental Floss writer), tells us. “It wasn’t normal for everyone to get a headstone in the past and we didn’t have these big sprawling green spaces.”

Now that many urban cemeteries are filling up, the idea of reusing plots is once again gaining popularity. In London, it’s estimated that only one-third of the city’s boroughs will have burial space by 2031. In response, the City of London Cemetery—one of the biggest cemeteries in Britain—has started reusing certain grave plots (the practice is legal in the city, even though grave reuse is outlawed elsewhere in England).

Across continental Europe, however, it's not uncommon for graves to be "rented" rather than bought for all eternity. In countries like the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Greece, families can hold a plot for their loved one as long as they continue to pay a rental fee. If they stop paying, the grave may be reused, with the previous remains either buried deeper or relocated to a common grave.

Meier says she isn’t aware of any cemeteries in New York City that have started reusing their plots, though. “That’s a tough thing for Americans to get on board with because it’s been a normal practice in a lot of places, but it’s never been normal here,” she says.

3. A FLOATING COLUMBARIUM

A rendering of a floating columbarium
BREAD Studio

Ninety percent of bodies in Hong Kong are cremated, according to CNN, and niches in the city's public columbaria are at a premium. The average wait for a space is about four years, sparking concerns that Hong Kongers could be forced to move their loved ones' ashes across the border to mainland China, where more space is available. (A space at a private columbarium in Hong Kong can be prohibitively expensive, at a cost of about $128,000.) To address this issue, a proposal emerged in 2012 to convert a cruise ship into a floating columbarium dubbed the “Floating Eternity.” Designed by Hong Kong and London-based architecture firm BREAD Studio, the columbarium would be able to accommodate the ashes of 370,000 people. Although it's still just an idea, BREAD Studio designer Benny Lee tells CNN, "A floating cemetery is the next natural step in Hong Kong's history of graveyards."

4. UNDERWATER MEMORIALS

An underwater lion sculpture and other memorials
Neptune Reef

Land may be limited, but the sea is vast—and several companies want to take the cemetery concept underwater. At Neptune Memorial Reef off the coast of Key Biscayne, Florida, human ashes are mixed with cement to create unique memorials in the shape of seashells and other objects of the client's choice. The memorials are then taken by divers to the ocean floor and incorporated into a human-made reef designed to look like the Lost City of Atlantis. Eternal Reefs, based out of Sarasota, Florida, offers a similar service.

5. SPACE MEMORIALS

Not a water person? Try space instead. Elysium Space, a San Francisco-based company founded by a former software engineer at NASA, offers a couple of “celestial services.” At a cost of nearly $2500, the Shooting Star Memorial “delivers a symbolic portion of your loved one’s remains to Earth’s orbit, only to end this celestial journey as a shooting star,” while the Lunar Memorial will deliver a "symbolic portion" of human remains to the surface of the moon for a fee of nearly $10,000. Another company, Celestis, offers similar services ranging in price from $1300 to $12,500.

6. HUMAN COMPOSTING

Shoveling soil
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Critics of burial and cremation say both are bad for the environment. To address the need for a memorial method that doesn’t emit carbon dioxide, waste resources, or release carcinogenic embalming fluid into the soil, a number of eco-friendly options have emerged. One such innovation is the “mushroom burial suit," a head-to-toe outfit that's lined with mushroom spores designed to devour human tissue and absorb the body's toxins. Another company, Recompose, espouses human composting—a process by which a corpse would be converted into a cubic yard of soil, which could then be used to nurture new life in a garden. The procedure isn’t legal yet, but the company plans to work with the Washington State legislature to make it available to the general public before eventually rolling it out nationwide.

7. DEATH AS ART

Many innovative proposals have emerged from the DeathLAB at Columbia University, including a plan to convert human biomass (organic matter) into light. The design—a constellation of light that would serve as both a memorial and art installation—won a competition hosted by Future Cemetery, a collaboration between the University of Bath’s Centre for Death & Society and media company Calling the Shots. John Troyer, director of the UK-based center, says they're working on raising funds to install a concept piece based on that design at Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol, England, but any usage of actual biomass would have to be cleared through the proper regulatory channels first. According to DeathLAB, the project would save significant space—within six years, it would more than double the capacity of the cemetery orchard where the memorials would be installed.

8. VIRTUAL CEMETERIES

As virtual reality technology gets more and more advanced, some question whether a physical cemetery is needed at all. The website iVeneration.com, founded by a Hong Kong entrepreneur, lets users "create virtual headstones anywhere in an augmented reality landscape of Hong Kong, including such unlikely places as a downtown park," as Reuters describes it. In Japan, one online cemetery allows the bereaved to “light” incense, share memories of their loved one in comments, and even grab a virtual glass of beer. Similarly, an app called RiPCemetery created a social network where users can craft a virtual memorial and share photos of the deceased.

However, Troyer says he doesn’t believe technology will ever usurp the need for physical spaces. “A lot of the companies talking about digital solutions talk about ‘forever’—and that’s very complicated with the internet, because the virtual material we create can easily disappear," he told the The Guardian. "The lowly gravestone has been a very successful human technology, and I suspect it will last … I would go with granite.”

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