Quest for the Shield: Which city's better, KC or Salt Lake?

 

 

Kansas City’s a cowtown and has been since the days of the Stockyards, even though they’re closed now. We do steaks. We do barbeque. We do the American Royal, which combines bull-riding, calf-roping and steer-smoking. You can go vegetarian here, but this is a city built on beef and (usually) fiercely proud of it.

CLAIM TO FAME

It’s hard to avoid the obvious: the LDS Church. And there’s also that large body of water from which the city gets its name: The Great Salt Lake. But RSL are slowly creeping up the charts on this list.

Well, there’s “Cowtown,” but we’ve already covered that part. Nowadays, though, we go by “KC” … or “KCK” if you’re in the city where Sporting plays. If you’re feeling fancy, you can call us the “City of Fountains.” We’ve got so many, we need a website (kcfountains.com) to keep track of them.

CITY NICKNAME

Salt Lake City is sometimes called “The Crossroads of the West," but it's most commonly referred to by its initials: SLC.

Check out the Liberty Memorial and National World War I Museum. It’s the nation’s only memorial to the War to End All Wars (which, sadly, didn’t), and the view from the top of the tower itself is fantastic.

MUST-SEE ATTRACTION

Most first-time visitors make it a point to see the Salt Lake Temple, the Sundance Film Festival, one of Utah’s five National Parks or Kennecott Copper Mines (world’s largest open pit copper mines).

The Day After (1982). Don’t sneer because it was made for TV. Millions of viewers were glued to their sets the night it first aired, and it remains a sobering reminder of Cold War fears. For those of us who grew up or spent a lot of time here, seeing beloved landmarks incinerated in a series of nuclear fireballs hit hard and hit home … literally.

MOST FAMOUS MOVIE SHOT IN THE CITY

Old timers will point to the original Planet of the Apes. Youngsters will highlight the High School Musical trilogy. Others will go with Footloose, but for me, it’s got to be Better Off Dead. “I want my two dollars!”

Harry S. Truman, hands down. The 33rd president is largely remembered for his decision to use nuclear weapons on Japan, bringing World War II to an end. But his administration also saw the Korean Conflict, the beginning of the Cold War, the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift, the desegregation of the Armed Forces and the creation of NATO … to name a few. Defeat that, Dewey.

MOST FAMOUST CITIZEN

Well, GOP candidate Mitt Romney has strong ties to the state, but he was born and raised in Michigan. Other notables from the state (past and present) include Butch Cassidy, former San Francisco 49ers QB Steve Young, astronaut and politician Jake Garn and, of course, Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette. But we should all give praise to the grandest Utahn of all, Philo T. Farnsworth, who invented the television.

Walt Disney. Yeah, Walt was born in the home of the hated Fire and hit it huge in the home of the equally loathed Galaxy, but Mickey Freaking Mouse – only the most iconic animated character ever – was conceived right here in Kansas City. M-I-C … See if you can top that, Salt Lake. K-E-Y … Why? Because you can’t. (OK, so the Osmonds got their first paying gig at Disneyland. That wasn’t Walt’s fault.)

CITY'S BIGGEST POP CULTURE STAR

The Cirque Lodge. It’s a rehab facility. Famous for bringing in pop culture stars from other cities for a little R&R (rehab and more rehab – once is never enough). Lindsey Lohan, “The Situation” and Demi Moore have all been rumored to have had their stints at The Cirque.
Charlie Parker. The KCK-born saxophonist, father of Bebop and darling of the Beat Generation, made his first recording with Jay “Hootie” McShann’s band back when the Kansas City sound was known from coast to coast. Parker is long gone, brought down at 34 by a monkey he couldn’t get off his back, and jazz no longer holds the pop-culture sway it once did. Still, Bird lives.

BEST BAND OR MUSICAL ARTIST

Not a strength of SLC. Perhaps the most famous is still Donny & Marie Osmond. There’s The Used which was founded by Branden Steineckart, who penned RSL’s Believe anthem. And the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has its following. I have to go with country’s SheDaisy, since I went to school with one of the members.
Kansas City is better known as the barbeque Capital of the Multiverse. We’ll hickory-smoke just about anything here: cattle, pigs, birds, even mutton. But if you want the truest, purest form of KC ’cue, you want burnt ends – the gnarly, extra-smoky bits from the point end of a beef brisket. Add some sweet and spicy sauce, and you’ve got heaven on Wonder bread.

TOP FOOD DISH

Chicago has deep dish pizza, Memphis has barbeque. Salt Lake has fry sauce and green jello. If you’re not familiar, fry sauce is a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise and is used as a dipping sauce for french fries. As for green jello, don’t ask me to explain the appeal – I don’t get it either. But it’s a staple at many Utah gatherings.
Just a short drive southwest from KC, the Flint Hills offer sweeping vistas, blazing sunsets – and if you come at the right time of year, a chance to see fire both consume and renew one of the few remaining swaths of tallgrass prairie.

TOP OUTDOOR ATTRACTION

Utah’s known for the “Greatest Snow on Earth (take that Colorado!). Skiing is one of the major tourism draws, another being the numerous national parks that dot the state. If you’re a fan of fresh powder, This is the Place!
Henry W. and Richard Bloch. Sound familiar? They should, especially at this time of year. So they changed the spelling of their last name when they created their tax preparation company – H&R Block, founded right here in Kansas City in 1955.

CITY'S CORPRATE HEAVYWEIGHT

Nu Skin. Billion-dollar plus companies are somewhat rare in Salt Lake City, but this is one of them. It’s one of the world’s largest direct selling companies, a business model that’s popular in Utah, with Xango, Usana, and Tahitian Noni calling the state home.
Ten Final Fours were played here, including the Kansas Jayhawks Danny and the Miracles” triumph over Oklahoma in 1988. Small wonder KC is now the home of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

BIGGEST SPORTING ACHIEVEMENT

Real Salt Lake winning MLS Cup 2009. Although many would point to the hosting of the 2002 Winter Olympics as the crown jewel in the Salt Lake sports almanac.
Aurélien Collin tweeted about someplace named Aura the other night, and he is Sporting Kansas City’s most fashionable and most desirable player, so let’s go with that. Also, does SLC even have nightlife?

TRENDIEST NIGHT SPOT

Night spots? Trendy? In Salt Lake? Seriously, Utah’s known for its liquor laws, specifically designed to help prevent you from getting, well, liquor. For night life I’d recommend heading 100 miles west to a casino across the Nevada border.