The city traces its roots back to 1905 with the arrival of its founder William B. Strang Jr., who platted subdivisions, including one named "Overland Park," along a military roadway.
Strang envisioned a self-sustaining, well planned "park-like" community that had strong commerce, quality education, vibrant neighborhoods, convenient transportation and accommodating recreational facilities - all amenities that today, make Overland Park one of the best places to live and grow up.
Before Strang's death in 1921, he established several housing developments, an interurban railroad and an airfield. Remnants of his interurban line remain today as do his limestone car barn, 79th and Santa Fe Drive (home to Traditions Furniture), and his Carriage House in Santa Fe Commons Park, 8045 Santa Fe Drive, home to the Overland Park Historical Society.
On May 20, 1960, Overland Park was incorporated as a first-class city with a population of 28,085. The nationally-recognized city today encompasses 75.6 square miles of Johnson County, and has more than 184,700 residents, making it the second most populous city in Kansas and metropolitan Kansas City.
Prior to incorporation, Overland Park was part of the Mission Urban Township, which included the cities of Mission and Prairie Village. Overland Park's formation was based on land other communities shunned.
Overland Park has received many national awards for its quality of life, education system, public safety, low taxes, strong economy, outstanding health industry, and more.
Major development since incorporation
- 1960s and 1970s: Corporate Woods, Metcalf South Shopping Center, Oak Park Mall and the Children's Farmstead opened, along with a new City Hall and many residential subdivisions.
- 1980s: Overland Park experienced a boom in commercial and residential development. By 1988, the city's population surpassed 100,000.
- Early 1990s: City officials focused their efforts on renovating the historic downtown area. The Clock Tower Plaza was dedicated and the Farmers' Market Pavilion was constructed.
- 2000-2010: Overland Park, like other cities nationwide, thrived in the early 2000s until the nationwide recession in 2008. The city embarked on a communitywide look at land use along and near Metcalf Avenue. The project was called "Vision Metcalf."
- 2011-present: As Overland Park began to emerge from the recession, plans for redevelopment in and near Downtown Overland Park were introduced. Beginning in 2016, two of four mixed use projects (residential, retail and office) began construction. Nearly 500 new apartments are expected to open in Downtown Overland Park by the end of 2018. Another redevelopment project began at 91st and Metcalf. Metcalf South Shopping Center, minus the Sears Store on the southend, was torn down in 2017 for a new retail project.