The city that holds our hearts

04/12/2014 10:10 PM

04/12/2014 10:59 PM

I confess to being fiercely devoted to this community that 464,000 Kansas Citians call home. At risk of being accused of boosterism, I consider this place at the prairie’s edge a collection of treasures.

• A splendid proliferation of public parks — the legacy of wealthy and prominent individuals, Jacob Loose and Colonel Thomas Swope among them, whose generosity led to the creation of sylvan spaces for outdoor leisure and recreation.

• Spectacular venues for athletic and cultural events.

• A daily newspaper that, during much of the 20th century, was ranked annually as one of the 10 best in the country.

• A rich mix of ethnicities that contribute variety to the city’s customs and cuisine.

• A public school system which, although currently laboring to meet state expectations, has provided an exceptional education for several generations of children. In fact, an older colleague of mine at The Star, Henry C. Haskell, once told me that it wasn’t until his junior year at Harvard that he received instruction of the quality he’d gotten at Westport High School.

We have a daughter who, after 19 years living and working in New York, is planning now to return to Kansas City. There are some who regard the Big Apple as the capital of the civilized world. It can be exciting, and for her it’s been a place for creative growth. But it also is expensive, and not an easy place to make one’s way.

She remembers her girlhood and her friends here fondly. Most of all, she’s attracted by what she has learned of the changes in this town where she grew up — construction of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, expansion of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the flourishing of the Power & Light District.

Over the years, we have lived other places as a family — in Paris for a year and in West Africa for several months.

But for everyone in the world there is one place that will forever be home.

And this is ours.

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