The strange experience of walking from one state into another

kansas missouri border

The left side of this street is Kansas. The right side is Missouri.

 

During my 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.

state line road kansas

Because where else in America can you actually cross the street as a pedestrian and walk into a new state? It’s incredibly rare.

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 North Dakota. There were no actual sidewalks or stoplights at this state line.

welcome to north dakota

Urban areas at state lines just aren’t very common, and that makes them interesting.

The funny part 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.” I was in Kansas! When did this happen? They didn’t even bother with a “Welcome to Kansas” sign!

kansas city border

A map of the neighborhood, with Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri split down the middle.

 

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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About Scott Shetler

Scott is a Chicago-based journalist and blogger who seeks out quirky sights and awesome destinations throughout North America and beyond.

5 comments on “The strange experience of walking from one state into another

  1. We passed through MO in October and we stopped to have lunch with friends and I asked the question, so what’s up with Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, KS, which he explained to me but of course I no longer remember. But it’s pretty interesting, right?!
    patti recently posted..The Paris of Eastern Europe ~

  2. Just to let you know, you are NOT the only one that finds crossing a street to another state fascinating… I think it’s VERY cool. I’d be crossing streets all day too, just to do it…. (But maybe you SHOULD stay away from the Four Corners.)

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