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Kansas City vs San Francisco: Part Three

Kansas City vs San Francisco: Part 3

January 29, 2020

In the first installment in this series, we explored the unexpected connections between Kansas City and San Francisco. Installment two discussed connections between the Chiefs and 49ers. In this final installment, let’s crunch the numbers! How do Kansas City and San Francisco stack up against one another in several key categories?

1. World-Class Novelists

When he grew up on the banks of the Mississippi River, just north of St. Louis, Mo., he was known as Sam Clemens. When he arrived in San Francisco in May 1864, he was was trying his hand at journalism, struggling, but still collecting stories. Eventually, he was able to draft a humorous story, inspired by experiences working around San Francisco, about a frog jumping contest, and his career took off. Mark Twain’s time as a journalist in San Francisco created the foundation and direction for a writing career that would shape American literature.

Kansas City had a similar transplant. A young man from Illinois came to Kansas City in 1917 after his uncle helped him secure an entry-level position at the Kansas City Star. Although he held this job for only a short while, he contended throughout his literary career that the style guide from the Star was what he followed his whole career. He continued to come back to visit family and polish novels before their release. Ernest Hemingway may be more often associated with Key West, Havana, or the Mountain West, but his short time in KC played a key role in the literary giant’s life and work!

Hemingway won both the Nobel Prize and the Pulitzer Prize and was an unrivaled adventurer—a real life Allan Quatermain. Mark Twain received several honorary degrees and is much, much funnier than Hemingway. This is hard to choose since they both have Missouri ties, but I would say that Hemingway is clearly more accomplished.

Verdict: Kansas City wins!

2. Signature Food Item

The first time I visited San Francisco, I was excited to try sourdough bread, which at the time, was not as widely available in other areas of the U.S. Like many other items from the Bay Area, sourdough launched and gained popularity during the Gold Rush period. So valuable was a miner’s sourdough starter, that he would sleep with it to keep the bacteria warm. Thus, “sourdoughs” became another nickname for the fortune seekers! I have to admit, sourdough is a real personal favorite and now available everywhere…even in Kansas City!

Of course, Kansas City is known for its barbecue, and specifically, burnt ends. Until very recently, KC was the only place you could find burnt ends. But like sourdough, it’s slowly making its way throughout the country. For those unaware, burnt ends are the charred ends of a brisket. Originally discarded, burnt ends developed a following as people discovered the outside bark of the point was full of flavor. Sometimes, they are cubed and smothered in sauce, but I prefer the chopped variety. KC is so serious about burnt ends that the local PBS station created a five-part documentary on the tasty delicacy!

So, which is better? This is a tough call. Keeping in mind that we often serve our barbeque ON TOP of bread, this clearly means that bread is a garnish, so barbeque wins!

Verdict: Kansas City wins!

3. Best Library

Surprisingly, Mid-Continent Public Library and San Francisco Public Library have a lot in common! Both libraries are in the same peer statistics group, with service populations of about 800,000. MCPL is one of the top 10 libraries in the world in terms of providing eBooks and eAudiobooks to customers. San Francisco’s International Center has extensive library collections in over 40 languages. Both libraries help adults earn accredited high school diplomas and career training.

SFPL has 29 service outlets, and MCPL has 36 locations. According to Wikipedia, SFPL circulates about 10 million items annually, and MCPL circulates a bit more than 9 million. MCPL’s collection has 3.5 million items, and SFPL has 3.9 million. In the end, the most important point is that both libraries work very hard to connect with their customers and serve their communities. I’ll call this one a draw!

Verdict: It’s a tie!


When I tally up the tale of the tape, the final result is two for Kansas City and one tie. I think this analysis clearly predicts that KC will win with twice as many touchdowns as San Francisco, and we will tie in the number of QB sacks! What other conclusion could one possibly draw?? I hope you have enjoyed this not-so-serious blog post as much as I have enjoyed putting it together!

Please visit your local Library to learn more about sports…or any topic! In addition, regardless of who wins on February 2, 2020, consider making a donation to your favorite library (MCPL or SFPL), honoring your favorite team and helping each to continue providing great service.  

Go Chiefs!

Steven V. Potter
MCPL Director & CEO

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