Do you know the difference between North Kansas City and Kansas City, North? I didn’t for the first 22 years of my life. In fact, I honestly had no idea that there was any civilization up here aside from the airport.
As a Johnson County native who escaped and attended Mizzou (Go Tigers!), it was just easier to get a job on the Missouri side due to all of the connections Career Services had with those districts. And the job I happened to get was at Oak Park High School in the North Kansas City School District.
I moved to the Northland in the summer of 2002, a fresh graduate jumping right into my new career as a teacher and high school cheerleading coach. When I told my friends from home about my job, most of them assumed it was somewhere near Oak Park Mall on the Kansas side.
I was completely lost. The numbered streets were backward (the numbers got smaller as I went south) and Troost wasn’t a street to avoid. When I asked where someone lived, they gave me a neighborhood name instead of cross streets. But after a few years, the Northland started to become my home and a friend paid me the ultimate complement recently by telling me that she had forgotten I had ever lived anywhere else.
I’ve been a Northlander for almost 15 years now; my best friends live up here. I met my husband here. My church is up here. I got married up here. My son was born up here. My lips curl up in disgust when I talk about having to venture “south of the river.” My introverted little soul has found its home in this quiet, friendly and, often forgotten, suburb of Kansas City.
I now exclusively filter my Groupons for North of the River zip codes. An activity in the River Market is iffy and one on the Plaza has to be REALLY AMAZING for me to consider attending.
I don’t have to leave home at 4 a.m. for a 7 a.m. flight. The airport is only 15 minutes away. The schools are phenomenal and don’t have the same societal pressure of my alma mater. The kids seem nicer and more friendly.
I bought my house for a fraction of what it would cost on the Kansas side. In 20 minutes, I can go from open pasture farmland and deliciously peaceful bike riding/running streets to downtown. There is land still being developed to build your dream home. There’s a healthy mix of MU/KU/K-State fans up here; it’s not obnoxiously dominated by one school.
We have amazing authentic Mexican (Ixtapa) and the best brunch in the city (Ginger Sue’s and Kate’s Kitchen). The parks are second to none (Penguin Park, Dagg Park and Tiffany Springs Park just to name a few). Shoal Creek Living History Museum offers monthly unique family friendly events. We have a brand new Aldi that is phenomenal! Although the Johnson County libraries are hard to beat, ever since the Woodneath library opened, it definitely rivals its southern counterparts not only in beauty but also amenities.
Gladstone Community Center has a fantastic saltwater pool. Smithville Lake is just a 15 minute drive away and has hiking and biking trails plus hosts the WIN for KC Triathlon that I’m proud to have participated in twice. I adore Theater in the Park but Shawnee Mission Park is just too much of a drive for me; Gladstone has its own version which is just the right size and full of talent. Power Play has high powered go karts and a zip line which makes for a super fun date night. Many families get Worlds of Fun season passes because it’s so easy to go for an hour or two a few times a week.
North Kansas City has a vibrant downtown full of breweries, restaurants and entertainment. Snake Saturday is one of the best parades in the City and our brand new Costco will make Kansas City, North absolutely perfect.
Fellow Northlanders, what did I leave out? What else do you love about our side of the river?