Kansas City vs. Springfield

After living in Springfield for 5 years, and having now lived in Kansas City for 3 months, I have observed a couple differences between the two towns. Maybe you have observed something different than me in either Springfield or Kansas City. This is what I’ve noticed. Allow me to elaborate categorically:

Traffic and Road System

It is often said that you can get anywhere in Springfield in 15 minutes. I generally found this to be true. Unfortunately, based on the distance traveled, sometimes 15 minutes seemed like a long time. I have found that you can get anywhere in Kansas City in about 30 minutes. I live in the Northland, and so I have to cross the Missouri river to get anywhere. Even so, I have found that thanks to the highway system in KC, I can get almost anywhere in 30 minutes or less.

The roads are one of Springfield’s greatest weaknesses, especially in North Springfield where I lived. They are the limiting factor that will keep Springfield from growing to a size approaching St. Louis or Kansas City, not that Springfield is trying to grow to that size. Springfield is basically a box with I44 to the North and West, Highway 60 to the South, and Highway 65 to the East. Most of the city is inside this box, with the exception of some sprawl to the East and South, which are graudally merging Nixa and Ozark into Springfield. Maybe Republic too. But the middle of town is only accessible through roads clogged with stoplights and other traffic jam-inducing features. It’s not terrible, but it is a limiting factor.

Kansas City features a Loop downtown with highways extending out into the metro area like spokes on a wheel. Thanks to the highway system, which is far from perfect, travel times over pretty good sized distances are greatly reduced.

Both towns are afflicted with reckless and unskilled drivers.

Diversity

Kansas City actually has some. Diversity in Springfield is pretty sparse, but it exists if you know where to look for it. Just because diversity is more prevalent in Kansas City doesn’t mean that perfect integration has been achieved. If you look click on this link (Race and Ethnicity Map of Kansas City), you can see how the different races/ethnicities are distributed throughout the city. The red dots represent white people, the blue dots represent black people, etc.

People

I guess people in Springfield are generally friendly. I have a hard time judging the town objectively since I was a part of it for so long. I guess what I’m saying is that Springfield is what I am used to, and I think the people there are pretty all right. I’ve been very pleased with how friendly people in Kansas City are. Almost everyone I have met has been very friendly and pleasant. It would be easy to move to a “big city” and expect people to be rude or impatient. This is certainly not the case in Kansas City.

Cosmetics/Asthetics

A friend of mine once described Springfield as an “ugly town.” I agree to a certain extent, but I think it might be more appropriate to say “town composed largely of suburbs and strip malls.” It’s hard to be known for your architectural majesty when there are few buildings with more than 3 floors.

Kansas City is very interesting architecturally. Firstly, the city features numerous buildings of the art deco style, which happens to be my favorite artistic and design style. Check out the Power and Light Building (not to be confused with the Power and Light District) for a great example. There are also many slick and shiny modern skyscrapers, and a Southwestern/Spanish motif around the Plaza.

So those are my observations. Did I miss something? What do you like or dislike about Kansas City or Springfield? Let me know.

5 Comments

  1. Neil Sickendick

    12/07/2010 at 06:52

    I have often described Springfield as an ugly town. But Springfield, unlike a major urban area (KC, STL), has grown-up much like a Suburb does, in small chunks over great time. The small chunks (e.g. strip malls and subdivisions) established themselves in seemingly random places, and were connected only by other small chunks over great times. Its almost as if every block of Springfield is its own “district.”

    Kansas City has amazing roads. Driving to the Northland, a 30 mile drive, takes me about 35 minutes. You can’t beat that. Even if I go through the city to get north, it still is a quick drive. I maintain that people are so friendly and pleasant in KC because the quality of life is great. Its inexpensive, resources are readily available, copious amounts of good food, easy commute’s, etc.

    I always thought that the people in Springfield were not very friendly. Then again, we both lived in the not-so-nice part of town. South side is a much more friendly area. The great thing about Springfield is, if you were lucky enough to get a high paying professional job in Springfield, you could buy a large piece of land and a great house, relatively inexpensive, just outside of town and still have less than a 30 minute commute.

    • Russell

      12/07/2010 at 07:51

      I was talking to a friend who is about to move to KC, and he said that in the current climate, the real estate market in KC is actually more favorable to buyers than it is in Springfield. Maybe Springfield hasn’t been hit as hard as KC in the real estate bubble. Wither way, it is a great time for property investing in KC.

  2. Nice Post Russell –

    I was just on the south side of SGF the other day (hadn’t been in a while) and really liked the layout and businesses down there. The north side…eehh..not so much. I don’t really even care for the ‘downtown.’ I’d rather have the suburb feel of the south side.

    KC sounds like a great place. I’ve only been there once and should take a weekend trip to visit a few places up there. Would definitely like to read about a few highlights or places to see/go.

    Keep up the writing!

  3. I love living in Springfield, but I would agree that it is an ugly town architecturally.

  4. Russell

    12/07/2010 at 20:31

    I hope this post didn’t come across as being anti-Springfield, because I really love that town. I’m also a big fan of my new home in Kansas City. One thing that KC definitely has over Springfield is variety and quality of radio stations, which makes sense since KC is a much larger market. KC actually has rock stations (and by rock station, I mean station that plays rock without playing Greenday or Nickleback every third song). Also, I was upset when 92.9 Bass country in Springfield changed formats to whatever it is now. That was my favorite station, and they ruined it.

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