About the series

“Rating Our Neighborhoods” is the result of a yearlong effort by Jeffrey Spivak, with help from several other reporters, to measure the quality of life of city neighborhoods.

The Star modeled the analysis on “Rating the ’Burbs,” a project Spivak did last year ranking the quality of life in Kansas City suburbs. That series won the Community Service award from the Missouri Press Association.

A close look at Kansas City neighborhoods was the task this year and it presented several new challenges. The city has 240 neighborhoods, and almost all are too small to compare statistically. So Spivak’s first step was to meet with neighborhood leaders, city officials and researchers at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to determine how to combine tiny neighborhoods into bigger clusters so they could be compared.

Spivak then spent months gathering statistics that would help measure the livability of each cluster. Paula Shorter, an associate mathematics professor at Rockhurst University, advised him and did the sophisticated math to convert the raw data into a point system.

The results, which we’ll print over the next eight days, will tell you about several of the best neighborhood areas in Kansas City.

Day by day

Today: Contrary to public opinion, neighborhoods in Kansas City generally are getting better.

Monday: The best neighborhood cluster in the Southwest Corridor.

Tuesday: The top cluster in the Historic Central City — an area basically north of Brush Creek and east of Troost Avenue or the Paseo.

Wednesday: The top cluster in the Inner Northland, generally south of Northwest 68th Street in Platte County and Northeast Pleasant Valley Road in Clay County.

Thursday: The best cluster in the Southland.

Friday: The top cluster in the Outer Northland.

Saturday: The best cluster in the Southeast Side.

Sunday: The very best cluster in the entire city, plus some surprises — places that may have ranked better or worse than you thought they would.


Reporter Jeffrey Spivak writes about civic projects and metropolitan trends. During his 20 years at The Star, he has covered city and suburban governments. He was a Pulitzer Prize runner-up for co-writing “Divided We Sprawl,” a series of articles about urban decline and suburban growth in the Kansas City region. In addition to his newspaper work, he is author of the recent book, Crowning the Kansas City Royals, about the city’s last championship baseball team, and also Union Station Kansas City.

Spivak received a journalism degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and earned a master’s in business administration at the University of Kansas.

Allison Long has been a photojournalist at The Star since October 2002.

Long, a Lousiville, Ky., native, graduated from the University of Florida and has worked at newspapers in Biloxi, Miss., and Tallahassee, Fla., winning awards for her coverage of childhood disease and animal welfare. She went to Afghanistan this year to report on the service of local troops.

Edited: Craig Nienaber, government editor

Design: Charles W. Gooch, page one designer

Graphics: Dave Eames, graphic artist

Copy editor: Terry Albright