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Kansas City Jazz: K.C. Royal

The intersection of 18th and Vine in Kansas City, MO

On September 11th, 2005, Kansas City, Mo., officially claimed its legacy as the incubator of America’s only indigenous music form, jazz. In a ceremony attended by Mayor Kay Barnes and other state legislators and civic and business leaders, the city once known as the “Paris of the Plains” for its hepcat jazz scene dedicated its Goin’ to Kansas City Plaza, a piano-shaped expanse of parkland. This new plaza east of the Paseo Bridge was marked by a new signage commemorating 12th and Vine Streets, the intersection immortalized in Leiber and Stoller’s rollicking hit “Goin’ to Kansas City.”

Obliterated by 1970s redevelopment that left the once-famous corner (and hub of the black community) in the middle of a field for years, the intersection is now the centerpiece of the new city park. The plaza also features a monument describing how the song “Kansas City” was written and performed, and a meandering pathway paved in red that forms a giant G clef that can be seen from the air. The park will eventually become a sculpture garden for works embodying the jazz spirit of Kansas City.

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