The Neighborhood of Westport

Founded in 1833, Westport was an independent incorporated town on the western frontier until 1898 when it merged with the newer City of Kansas City. The boundaries for the old Town of Westport are defined by 39th Street on the north, 43rd Street on the south, Main Street on the east, and Southwest Trafficway on the west. Today, Westport is surrounded by The Plaza and Midtown – both significantly newer areas of Kansas City. While not a component part of either of the areas surrounding it, Westport’s uniqueness and history remains complimentary and readily visible through its different street grid pattern, its narrower streets, the high density of its built environment, the high concentration of local independent businesses, and the pedestrian scale of its buildings and streetscape.

Today the neighborhood is known for its blend of tasty eateries, trendy boutiques and popular nighttime hot spots. By day Westport buzzes with residents and tourists, but really comes to life at night as the restaurants and bars fill up.


The History of Westport

Nearly twenty years before Kansas City became Kansas City, John Calvin McCoy opened a trading post on the northeastern corner of Westport Road and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Over the next few decades, Westport grew by leaps and bounds into a thriving community where fur trappers and farmers traded goods, and wagon trains of pioneer families stocked up for arduous journeys west via the adjacent California, Oregon, and Santa Fe trails.

This growth attracted entrepreneurs like Albert Gallatin Boone, who built his own grocery on the corner opposite McCoy’s in 1850. The original building still stands as Kelly’s Westport Inn.

Over a decade later, Union and Confederate soldiers clashed in The Battle of Westport, which essentially ended the Civil War in the western states. Visitors today may explore Westport to learn more about the battle that’s been called “the Gettysburg of the West.”

While the war damaged trade and growth in Westport, Kansas City continued expanding southward from the Missouri River and, in the late 1890s, annexed Westport. The legacy of John Calvin McCoy, “the father of Kansas City,” lives on in today’s Westport.


Westport District Plan

Westport is one of Kansas City’s most distinct places. Although the District is incredibly economically productive for the City, it faces many challenges for business owners, neighbors, property owners, and visitors. The Westport Regional Business League, Historic Kansas City, and City of Kansas City, Missouri teamed up in 2018 and 2019 to develop a long-term District Plan for Westport. As Westport continues to evolve, a clear plan intends to provide those considering development of public and private properties within the District guidance about the physical qualities and attributes that make Westport unique and valuable.

For full details on the plan, please click here.

To protect the character, feel, and uniqueness defined by the hundreds of stakeholders and community members that participated in the development of the Westport Plan, an effort was begun in late 2022 to develop a Westport Overlay District. The effort was again led by the Westport Regional Business League, Historic Kansas City, and the City of Kansas City to ensure that the longstanding preferences and priorities identified in the Westport Plan would become required development standards for properties and uses fronting on two of the most historic streets – Westport Road and Pennsylvania Avenue – within the boundaries of the old Town of Westport. In the summer of 2023, the Westport Overlay District was enacted by the City Council to further protect the  character, use, and appearance of the special and historic place called Westport. For additional information about the Westport Overlay District, please click here.