Sister Cities: Independence, New Jersey, Meet Independence, Missouri

Photos courtesy of the city of Independence, Missouri


By Steve Sears


With just one word you can describe Independence, Missouri:




Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, lived in Independence before and after his White House years. The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum are in Independence, and the late President and his wife, Bess, are buried in the courtyard at the site.


However, Independence, Missouri has much to offer in addition to the history surrounding its most famous citizen. Over 117,000 people call the city of 78 square miles home, while by contrast, Independence, New Jersey checks in at 20 square miles and has about 5,500 residents.


Both are wonderful places to visit.


“Independence is a community steeped in history that we continue to be inspired by every day,” Mayor Rory Rowland says. “From the mule-drawn covered wagon tours clopping around our downtown, to our unique and vibrant restaurants, to our beautiful parks, and fun shopping options – there is something for everyone, of every age to find and enjoy in Independence. As President Truman once said – ‘It’s good to be back home, in what I call the center of the world… Independence, Missouri.’ We love showing everyone what that means.”


Founded in 1927 and named after the Declaration of Independence, the city in 1803 was part of the Louisiana Purchase, officially making the area part of the United States. Independence, Missouri is also considered the starting point of the Oregon, Sante Fe, and California National Historic Trails, and annually celebrates its anniversary during Labor Day weekend with the SantaCaliGon Days Festival. Initially held just in 1940 and 1947, it resumed in 1973 and annually attracts 300,000 people.


If you plan to make a visit, there are plenty of places to eat and stay. Big Boy Burgers on East US Highway 40 boasts of the best burgers, tenderloins, and onion rings in the community. The tenderloin sandwich is a pork fritter that is deep fried and served with mayo, lettuce, ketchup, tomato, and onion, while the Bacon Double Big Boy Burger is a ½ pound beef patty with bacon, cheese, ketchup, mustard, pickle, and onion. The Courthouse Exchange, which turns 125 years old in 2024 and is located at 113 West Lexington, serves a Bailiff’s Fried Chicken – two pieces of breaded, deep fried buttermilk chicken, with mashed potatoes and green beans. As for resting between jaunts into the city, there are several hotels and motels in the area, but if you enjoy the bed & breakfast scene, consider the Silver Heart Inn & Cottages, located at 1114 South Noland Road. The 1856 home has four beautiful, comfortable rooms, and offers an adjacent Beach Cottage for more privacy.


And while in town you will find much “Truman” to visit and explore, there is also the Vaile Victorian Mansion. Built in 1881, a year later the Kansas City Times coined the home that has 31 rooms, nine marble fireplaces, and a 48,000-gallon wine cellar “the most princely house and the most comfortable home in the entire west.”

If nature is what you enjoy most, Independence, Missouri has that as well. George Owens Nature Park, located at 1601 South Speck Road, was unveiled in 1977, and at 86 acres includes a forest, lakes, trails for walking and hiking, and much wildlife. 

For more information about Independence, Missouri, visit

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