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Better a garden In Kansas City than a park in Utopia.

This booster's boast was not uttered by a Kansas Citian but by a visiting French novelist. When Andre Maurois, in 1946, was teaching a course in biography at the University of Kansas City, he was smitten with Kansas City's beauty. "Who in Europe, or in America for that matter," he asked, "knows that Kansas City is one of the loveliest cities on earth?"

Lovely is not a word that comes often or naturally to the lips of Kansas Citians themselves. They...

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