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Independence, MO

With more than 110,000 residents, Independence is the fourth-largest city in Missouri. It maintains great significance in U.S. history, being the starting point for pioneers heading west on the Oregon, California, and Santa Fe Trails. For this reason, Independence is known as the "Queen City of the Trails." It was also home to the nation's 33rd president, Harry S. Truman, both before and after he held office.

NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS

The city of Independence has developed neighborhood and housing programs and policies with the purpose of sustaining and revitalizing communities in the city. These programs help to develop neighborhood organizations and promote neighborhood safety, community, and beautification.

Independence has several neighborhoods with a broad range of housing options. Englewood and Fairmount have older homes and, therefore, tend to be less expensive than newer communities, such as Selsa or along Route Seven and Strobe Road. Individuals looking for an area somewhere in the middle might consider the neighborhoods of East Independence or Ribley.

There are 10 fire stations and four police stations in the city, and it has 40 parks that combine for a total of more than 700 acres of green space. There are also three golf courses.

RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY

The founder of the Mormon faith, Joseph Smith, pronounced that "Zion" was located in Independence, Missouri. He and approximately 2,000 of his followers relocated to Independence from Ohio in the 1830s. While their belief system saw them banished from the area by 1833, Independence has remained a central location to their faith. It is now home to the headquarters of seven Latter-day Saints groups. The Mormon Visitors Center provides information and displays about the role Mormons played in the history of Independence, as well as information regarding the truth and fables surrounding the development of the Mormon Church and the denominations that branched from it.

EDUCATION

  • Independence is home to Blue River Community College, which is widely known for its Trailblazers soccer program.
  • Park University also has an independence campus, offering students face-to-face courses in conjunction with online programs. Park University is the largest provider of online education to the military.
  • Graceland University's School of Nursing is based in Independence. The university also offers courses in business administration and religion on its independence campus.
  • National American University's Independence campus is one of the university's three campuses in the Kansas City metropolitan area. The school offers degree programs in business, information technology, medical assisting, paralegal studies, and health care management.

ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES

Agriculture and manufacturing are both major industries in Independence. The city's manufactures produce machinery, building materials, apparel, foods, paper products, and military supplies. Soybeans, corn, and sorghum are grown, and there is also local dairy and natural-gas production.

Among the largest employers in the area are:

  • The Healthcare Company (HCA)
  • Centerpoint Medical Center
  • Independence School District
  • City of Independence
  • Offices of the county seat and courthouse

A large number of residents also commute into the nearby metropolitan area of Kansas City for employment.

BEST BETS

During the Civil War, three battles were fought in Independence: the First Battle of Independence, the Second Battle of Independence, and the Battle of Little Blue River. The battles are memorialized in Historic Independence Square. Other area attractions include:

  • National Frontier Trails Museum conveys the history of the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon Trails.
  • Covered Wagon Rides take visitors through the downtown historic district of Independence.
  • 1859 Jail/Marshals' Home & Museum presents the jail that housed outlaw Frank James, unaltered since 1859, and the residence of the county marshals before the 1930s, now a museum.
  • The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum provides a wealth of information and artifacts regarding the 33rd president of the United States.
  • The Truman Home exhibits the simple life Truman led before and after his presidency in this house, which has been unchanged since Truman lived there.
  • The Vaile Mansion is a 30-room mansion built in 1881 that elegantly depicts second-empire Victorian architecture and design.
  • The Bingham-Waggoner Estate is a mansion built in 1855 that was once owned by Civil War artist George Bingham.

EVENTS

  • All Dolled Up, which takes place every year on President's Day in February, is a celebration complete with doll displays, doll-themed films, a puppet show, and other activities and workshops.
  • Vaile Strawberry Festival is held the first Saturday in June and features antiques booths, vintage cars, carriage rides, music, entertainment, and food, including-of course-plenty of strawberry treats.
  • Santa-Cali-Gon Days Festival, held annually on Labor Day weekend, celebrates the heritage of Independence and draws a crowd each year of more than 225,000.
  • Independence Heritage Festival, held in September, is designed for the community to celebrate its heritage and ever-increasing diversity.

LOCAL MEDIA

The local newspaper is the Independence Examiner. Residents also enjoy reading the Kansas City Star, which is distributed within Kansas City and all surrounding suburbs. The majority of television and radio stations received in Independence are broadcast from Kansas City and other neighboring cities, with the exception of KSMO, channel 62, which is an affiliate of My Network TV.