Looking for answers to Kansas City's nagging questions rattling around our brains 

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Is it true that a phone booth is the only commercial enterprise in Mission Hills, Kansas?

Just for the pure hilarious absurdity of this question, we wish it were true. Like, so, so bad. If we could have verified this, we would have been just tickled that this tony, gilded suburb was devoid of businesses. It's close to true, though. A couple of outposts of commerce are in this posh, 2-square-mile community designed by J.C. Nichols. Specifically, there are Indian Hills Country Club and Kansas City Country Club. Otherwise, we found three home-based businesses. The Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, which includes Mission Hills in its coverage area, lists only two members within the city: the city offices and state Rep. Barbara Bollier. So it's more than a phone booth but just barely.

Who are these people we've named so many of our streets — and short parts of streets — after?

In Kansas City, we have named streets after people whom most residents know nothing about. Or, at least, stretches of streets. Who the hell are these people? A few examples:

click to enlarge George_Caleb_Bingham_-_Dr__Benoist_Troost.jpg

Troost
The avenue long considered to be Kansas City's racial dividing line is named for Dutchman Benoist Troost. (Don't ask us how to pronounce Benoist, please. We couldn't find an answer to that question.) Troost (1786-1859) lived a pretty cool life. He was born in Bois-le-Duc, a walled city in the Duchy of Brabant in the Netherlands. He did a spell of medical stuff with Napoleon's army, then moved to Kansas City in its formative years, becoming an important founding-father type. Find his grave at Mount St. Mary Cemetery and his oil-on-canvas portrait by George Caleb Bingham at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Worth the trip.

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Strang Line Road
Strang Line Road was named after railroad magnate William B. Strang Jr., one of Overland Park's most important founders. Strang came to town after Mission and Prairie Village had been founded, and he laid the groundwork for Overland Park with subdivisions in 1905. Strang wanted rail transit between the burgeoning outlying towns and subdivisions and the big city. His rail enterprise was called the Strang Line. It disappeared in 1940, according to historical groups.

click to enlarge 347-John-Bristow-Wornall-1866-29-x-24-Private-900x1024.jpg

Wornall
This long, commercially vibrant stretch of road is named for John Wornall, who had a hell of a successful farm near Westport. Wornall's family moved to the Kansas City area from Kentucky in the 1820s. The John Wornall House is a privately maintained historic site and is known for being haunted by the ghosts of Civil War soldiers. It's so famous that it has been on TV! Speaking of the Civil War, Wornall was a slaveholder and was known in Jackson County for being a founding member of the pro-slavery, pro-Confederacy Westport Minute Men. Dude did not like African-Americans or their rights.

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