During my winter visit to Kansas City, Missouri a while back, I noticed something that I (and possibly no one else) found fascinating. There are a couple of parts of the city, like the Volker and Westland sections of town on 39th and 43rd Streets, where the Kansas state line butts up against the neighborhood.
This means that as I was walking through these neighborhoods, I literally got to the end of the block, waited for the walk sign at the stoplight, and then crossed the street (State Line Road, to be exact) and suddenly found myself in a different state. Crossing the street took me from Missouri into Kansas.
That freaked me out a little.
Because where else in America can you actually cross the street as a pedestrian and walk into a new state? It’s incredibly rare.
Where Can You Walk to Another State?
Think about it. A lot of state borders, like New York-New Jersey, are interrupted by rivers or other natural barriers, so they require driving or walking across a bridge.
Many other state lines, like North Dakota-South Dakota, are in rural areas that are walkable only if you get out of your vehicle and walk along the shoulder, as I did when I entered the state on my North Dakota road trip. There were no actual sidewalks or stoplights at this state line.
When I was a kid, I lived near the Pennsylvania-Ohio state line, and it was possible to walk between the states. And, as mentioned, you can walk from New York to New Jersey and from Pennsylvania to New Jersey by crossing a bridge.
But there aren’t many places where you can just take 20 steps on a concrete road and suddenly find yourself in a new state. There aren’t many urban areas with actual sidewalks at state lines. That’s what makes them interesting.
By the way, it is possible to walk across the entire United States. About 50 people have done it, including singer Mike Posner. Expect it to take 3 to 6 months!
Walking from Missouri to Kansas
The funny part about my journey between states is that I came upon this discovery accidentally. I was walking down 39th Street, a particularly hipster area of KC, past the trendy restaurants, dive bars, tattoo shops, and bookstores, when I looked up and saw a big sign for “The University of Kansas Medical Center.”
Suddenly, without realizing it, I was in Kansas! When did this happen? They didn’t even bother with a “Welcome to Kansas” sign!
Where else is there a state line passing right through a walkable, urban neighborhood? I’ve driven through all of the lower 48 states, and I cannot recall another instance where you can actually walk down the sidewalk in the heart of a thriving urban ‘hood and suddenly find yourself in a new state without realizing it.
I guess that’s not quite as bizarre as the women whose house straddles two states, but I still thought it was weird.
I kept walking back and forth from one side of the block to the other because the idea of being a state line-crossing pedestrian seemed so bizarre. Now I’m in Missouri… now I’m in Kansas! Now I’m in Missouri… now I’m in Kansas!
Heaven help us if I ever visit the Four Corners.
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