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What Makes Kansas City?

North American Review

March 1895

The question is often asked, “What makes Kansas City?” It is easily answered by referring the questioner to a railroad map of the Southwest. Kansas City is not only the center of the richest agricultural and mineral districts in the United States, but is also the only commercial outlet, the undisputed and unrivalled market of a territory larger than that naturally and commercially tributary to any other city in the United States. Twenty- six different railway systems, comprising nearly fifty thousand miles of railroad, have their termini in Kansas City, so that in railway facilities Kansas City is second to no city in the Union. The inhabitants of the States of Kansas, New Mexico, Southern Colorado, the Indian Territory, Oklahoma Territory, Northern Texas, Northwest Arkansas and Western Missouri sell their raw products in Kansas City’s markets, and buy in these same markets their clothing and supplies. Every other large city in the Union has rivals equally advantageously situated with reference to the same territory tributary to them, but Kansas City is nearly three hundred miles nearer to all these vast and rich agricultural and mineral fields than any other city capable of competing with her. Nor is all this territory sparsely settled. On the contrary, the territory within a radius of 150 miles of Kansas City has a total population of 2,546,990, embracing forty—one counties in the State of Kansas, fifty- one counties in the State of Missouri, twelve counties in Iowa, and seven counties in Nebraska, situated within which are almost inexhaustible coal beds and the richest lead and zinc mines in she world. This territory is grid-ironed with railroads, all of which center at Kansas City. The value 01 the products of the State of Kansas alone, which practically has no other market than Kansas City, amounted in the year 1894, not including live stock not marketed nor slaughtered, to $113,355896. The wonder is, there- fore, not that Kansas City is great and prosperous, situated as she is in the lap of such riches, but that her possibilities and certain future prosperity should not have been sooner perceived by others besides her own citizens. If the soundness, as well as the volume of commerce and business of a city are any indication of its present greatness and future prospects, Kansas City deserves to be ranked first among the cities of her class in the United States. Of all the cities, not only in the West, but in the whole country, she was among the first to recover from the effects of the general panic which afflicted the United States in 1893, and she seems to have suffered least. With the exception of a slight decrease in the volume of her busi- ness in the year 1893, and the suspension of a few of her weaker banking institutions, the crash of that year seems to have had no perceptible effect upon her. This was probably due to the fact that the effects of the panic had been discounted here during the period of reaction that followed the boom of 1885 and 1886. Prior to 1893 liquidation had been completely effected and the city had again entered upon an era of unusual prosperity, founded upon the natural strength of her resources, and directed by the careful and conservative judgment of her business men, whose education and experience, extending through the boom period, had been severe and thorough. The panic of 1893 therefore made but a slight ripple upon the surface of Kansas City’s prosperity, and the commercial census of the year 1894 shows remarkable strides in every branch of her business and commerce. The panic, if any- thing, was useful to Kansas City, in that it demonstrated, not only to her citizens, but to the world, that her foundation is solid and her future great- ness no longer a question of doubt. This is shown not only by the steady increase of her business and commerce, but also by the increased volume of foreign capital seeking investments in the city at low rates of interest, and by the steady advance in her real estate values. I give below some comparative statistics relating to the business, commerce, and the financial condition of the city and its inhabitants for the year 1894, that must certainly demolish any skepticism that may still exist in the minds of the uninformed. The figures on the business of the year 1894 I take from the excellent and exhaustive compilations made by the Kansas City “Times” and the Kansas City “Journal.”

VOLUME OF TRADE.

Bank Clearings.

 The clearings of the associated banks of Kansas City for the year 1894 amounted to ~48O,906,493, or an increase of ~6,000,000 over the year 1893, and this notwithstanding that in the first six months of 1893 the clearings were the largest in the history of the city. In the last ten years the annual clearings of the Kansas City banks have increased 125 per cent.

Jobbing Trade

There is invested in the jobbing trade in Kansas City an aggregate of ~30,0O0,000 of capital controlled by 600 houses and firms that did an aggregregate business for the year 1894 of ~72,500,000.

Retail Business

The retail business in the year 1894 amounted to ~34,535,000, as against p30,000,000 for the year 1893.

 Live Stock Trade and Packing Industry

Kansas City is the second live stock market in the world, Chicago, alone, being first. During the year 1894 the Kansas City Stock Yards Company expended ~l,500,000 In the enlargement of its yards and buildings and the improvement of its facilities for handling stock, and has already made plans for an equal expenditure for the year 1895. There were received at the Kansas City Stock Yards and marketed during the past year 2,549,742 hogs, 1,695,073 cattle, 586,224 sheep and 44,378 horses and mules, as against 1,936,380 hogs, 1,663,723 cattle, 569,765 sheep and 34,990 horses and mules for the year 1893, showing a substantial increase in the live stock business. Of the cattle and hogs received at Kansas City and marketed during the year 1894 there were slaughtered by the Kansas City packers 937,405 cattle, 2,024,915 hogs, 323,743 sheep, as against 891,495 cattle, 1,424,304 hogs and 279,— 670 sheep for the year 1893. It is freely predicted that within five years Kansas City will be the largest live stock market and the greatest manufactory of fresh and cured meats in the world. At present Chicago alone excels this market, and there have been several days during the past year when Kansas City received more live stock than Chicago.

Agricultural Implements and Vehicles

Kansas City is the largest market on the globe for agricultural implements and vehicles. The sales of agricultural implements alone for the year 1894 aggregated $16,000,000.