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Flatland Favorites: curiousKC Edition

Here are the #curiousKC questions we had the most fun answering in 2018

Bogdon's Peppermint Poles Even though the Bogdon Candy Co. is no longer in Kansas City, Bogdon's Peppermint Poles are still sold here. (Cole Blaise | Flatland)

Jonathan Bender, food content editor
Jumping on E-Scooters on The Fly? Think Twice
As a dad, I tell people to slow down more than I ever expected. A small part of me always worries when I see someone hopping on an electric scooter. They go faster than you think. The streets are uneven. Where’s your helmet? Kansas City hasn’t even figured out bicycles. I am 1,000 years old. I get that. The dad in me was glad to see us dive into just how often e-scooter injuries occur, while the journalist in me found it a fascinating look at how a city handles the sudden appearance of a new mode of transportation that its citizens may not know how to ride.

Crooked Missouri
A mapmaker and a mystery. Also, apparently I am fascinated by transportation. I will be wearing my paper conductor hat from Fritz’s for the rest of this paragraph. Flatland got to uncover and explore why the north-south streets in Missouri run at a slightly different angle than the streets in Kansas. It’s a tale that stretches back to 1826, spanning the first land surveys to the building of our roads.

Vicky Diaz-Camacho, community reporter
Do You Know Twelfth Street’s (Famous) Past?
I didn’t, and I used to work at 12th and Main. That street was my anchor for more than one year, and I was always so mesmerized by the art deco buildings around me. But what was the history? As luck would have it, this was the first curiousKC story I got to tackle. After flipping through archives and old newspapers at the Kansas City Public Library’s Missouri Valley Special Collections, I learned that the happenings on 12th Street are part of what put Kansas City on the map. The “12th Street drag,” as it was called in its heyday, had ties to famous political operators and was frequented by numerous jazz greats. As an added bonus, Kansas City radio host David Basse put together a 12th Street playlist for our post. So, hit “play” and read along.

The Bogdon Candy Co. Made Sweet Treats for Three Generations
OK, so I have a massive sweet tooth. And apparently Kansas City has an extensive history in the sweets industry. When someone asked CuriousKC about Bogon’s reception sticks, Flatland’s food editor found the answer and much, much more. How did the Bogdon family get to Kansas City, and how did the idea of reception sticks come to life? The story’s rich with history, and is a fun Kansas City fact to have in your back pocket.

Lindsey Foat, community engagement producer
Crooked Missouri
Once you notice that north-south streets in our bi-state metro aren’t parallel, you can’t unsee it. For years this bothered David Bonebrake, so he asked curiousKC why roads on the Missouri side were several degrees off from those on the Kansas side. I love that Bonebrake took us up on our invitation to help us answer his question, and I hope after our reporting, he finds the situation a little less off-putting.

What’s The Oldest House In The Kansas City Area?
This year we tackled a number questions through Facebook Live discussions. When Del Candler asked curiousKC about the oldest house in our area, we thought, “What better place to have the discussion than within the four walls of our answer?” Known as Three Gables, the 1824 Gothic structure now houses a real estate company. We made ourselves at home discussing Three Gables’ past, how housing has changed in Kansas City over the years, and we gave you resources for researching your own home’s history.

Mike Sherry, online news editor
Resurrecting Quindaro
Call it good timing, serendipity or just plain luck, but sometimes things just fall into place. That was the case with the question submitted by Laura Maddox of Pleasant Valley, Missouri. Her inquiry about the status of excavations at what was once the fervently anti-slavery town of Quindaro, located in what is now Kansas City, Kansas, dovetailed perfectly with a project we undertook in the early part of 2018. Our reporting laid bare decades of wasted time and money — and infighting — that has left the pre-Civil War ruins an overgrown mess. Our interview with Maddox was a perfect complement to this multifaceted story, which included a timeline using excerpts from the town’s newspaper and a Facebook Live broadcast from the Old Quindaro Museum.

The Rise and Fall of an Overland Park Icon
Here are a couple of things I love about our curiousKC initiative: It has provided a great opportunity to showcase the talents of students from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, and it has taken us into some super-cool corners of regional history. The story about the old French Market shopping center in Overland Park, Kansas, ticks both those boxes. First off, we doff our cap to the industriousness of Caroline Watkins, who reported and wrote the story as part a convergence journalism course at MU. Secondly, we celebrate the quirkiness and ambitiousness of Riverside, Missouri, legend E.H. Young, who somehow thought a French-themed hypermart fit into the burgeoning suburbs of the 1960s. Alas, it turned out that the wayward parachutists, who landed a mile off the mark as part of the market’s grand opening, proved to be an ominous harbinger for the French Market.

G.W. Schulz, digital managing editor
Where Are Those Twenty-Somethings Living? You Asked and We Checked Some IDs
A curious Kansas Citian wanted to know where twenty-somethings and young professionals are choosing to live in the metro area. After doing some digging, Flatland discovered that some 40 percent of the people living in downtown Kansas City are Millennials who came of age in the 21st century.  Many of these newer downtown residents are launching careers and earning relatively low salaries. We met one young accountant who spent 40 percent of his income on rent in order to live downtown.

downtown housing market trends in graphic form (Zechang Fu | University of Missouri School of Journalism)

rent costs of downtown in graphic form (Zechang Fu | University of Missouri School of Journalism)

monthly percentage of rent of downtown population in graphic form (Zechang Fu | University of Missouri School of Journalism)

generational breakdown of downtown population in graphic form (Zechang Fu | University of Missouri School of Journalism)

Can You Improve An Area Without Gentrifying It? You Asked And We Counted The Ways
This is a question fraught with controversy and an endless challenge for major cities around the country. A traffic engineer in Kansas City asked curiousKC how to reconcile the fact that once a neighborhood revitalizes and improves, increasing costs of living can drive out the very people redevelopment was intended to help. “If we’re going to be building and constructing and renovating, we don’t want 100 percent to be for a certain income bracket,” Pat Turner, CEO of Habitat for Humanity, told us. “We have to be mindful of serving our entire community. There needs to be a certain percentage of those renovations and new constructions that are for affordable housing. If we don’t do that, that’s when gentrification is really going to start happening.”


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