De Soto is a city located along the Kansas River and part of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. It has a population of 6,118 according to the 2020 census and is considered a Kansas City suburb.
It was named in the spring of 1857 after the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and has since been developed as a second-class city with a mayor and five council members.
De Soto lies south of the river and is bordered by Shawnee to the northeast, Lenexa to the east, and Olathe to the southeast. Four of its tributaries – Captain Creek, Kill Creek, Cedar Creek, and Camp Creek – end within the borders of De Soto.
De Soto is a town with a long history. It was first occupied by the Osage people, who had been relocated from east of the Mississippi River. In 1825, the Shawnees were forced to migrate west and settle in northeastern Kansas, near the Neosho River.
Despite this, the Black Bob band of Shawnee resisted removal until 1828 when they made their way west and settled in De Soto and along the Kansas River.
In later years, more Native American cultures arrived in the area due to European-American pressure, and then gold was discovered in 1849. From 1829 to 1854, almost thirty tribes were given reservations in what would become Kansas Territory.
The Shawnee Methodist Mission was then built to help care for these people. A reserve was established nearby, which attracted Shawnee from as far east as Ohio.
The five largest ethnic groups in De Soto are White (Non-Hispanic) comprising 87.6%, White (Hispanic) 10%, Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) 1.11%, Asian (Non-Hispanic) 0.58%, and Two+ (Non-Hispanic) 0.533%.
No households reported speaking a non-English language at home as their primary shared language. In this city, many cultures exist with the majority of settlers being European descendants. Although nobody reports a primary language other than English, there is plenty of diversity among its inhabitants both racially and ethnically which contributes to making it a great place to live.
With over 6,000 citizens, 97.3% of whom are natives of the United States. The remaining 4.39% of residents were born outside the country, around 280 people in total. As 2020 begins, De Soto continues to proudly represent America’s heroic melting-pot mentality and stands as an example for other cities striving to achieve meaningful diversity throughout their population.
In 2020, De Soto households had a median income of $60,568, down from the previous year’s value of $60,625. The average household income for the 2.26k households in De Soto is $82,673 and the poverty rate stands at 6.2%. Despite the slight decrease in household incomes across the area compared to 2019, most of the households in De Soto still have lower-than-average poverty rates and quite high incomes.
In 2020, the median property value in De Soto was $241,000 and the homeownership rate was 63.6%. This highlights the affordability of property for many families living in De Soto. Additionally, 63.6% of housing units were occupied by their owner and many households had two cars.
De Soto is covered by four ZIP codes: 66018, 66019, 66025, and 66061 and this provides easy access to different businesses and services located there. People living in De Soto enjoy heightened safety due to quality police protection as well as recreational activities that bring people together from across the area.
De Soto has had tremendous growth since the global recession in 2008, growing particularly in the K-10 Business District. The Kansas City Star reported in 2019 that De Soto was, and is set to stay, the second fastest-growing city in the Kansas City region, after only Spring Hill.
After the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant closed down in 1993, plans for potential development on its 15.5 square-mile lot south of De Soto drew attention.
De Soto residents are enjoying the benefits of health coverage like never before. Over 93% have health plans in place, with 64.6% stemming from employer plans and 9.92% from non-group plans. An impressive 7.12% have Medicare while Medicaid covers 9.02%.
2.61% of the population have a military or VA plan to provide additional safety nets to them. In the span of a year, these numbers only increased as the population of uninsured people dropped 26.7% from 9.14% to 6.7%.
De Soto Unified School District 232 serves the city and its surrounding areas, with two high schools – De Soto High School and Mill Valley High School located in Shawnee. US News reports show that the student body is largely white at 82%, followed by 8.8% Hispanic/Latino, 3.1% Black, 2.3% Asian or Pacific Islander, 0.2% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
Based on 2017’s US Census Bureau QuickFacts figures, 94.8% of people 25 years old and above have a high school diploma or higher within De Soto – a fraction higher than the Kansas state average of 92.3%.
This indicates a commitment to higher educational goals within the city, supported by the strong dedication of its local public school system.
De Soto is a car-dependent city in Kansas. 81.1% of workers drove alone to work, and the average commute time was 26.2 minutes. The average household owns two cars, which is close to the national average.
K-10 runs through most portions of southern De Soto and K-32 runs about 5 miles north of it. Four exits have a direct connection to K-10, as well as two junctions with K-32, providing access to nearby cities.
Despite the means of transportation provided by these roads, walking can still be difficult in specific neighborhoods due to De Soto’s low transit score of 0.
Things to Do in De Soto KS
De Soto is a small town with something for everyone. The historic downtown is full of activities for visitors and locals alike.
To start, take a walk through downtown De Soto. There are microbreweries, bakeries, and barber shops to enjoy. Plus, local merchants are available to help you plan your perfect wedding day. Take advantage of all the events in the area. You’ll find festivals, live music, and more!
For those who love being outside, there are plenty of parks and outdoor activities in De Soto too. Check out Kill Creek Park, Black Hoof Park, Lake Lenexa, and Zipline & Aerial Adventure Parks To Escape 2 Escape Games for some thrilling fun!
Wind down with dinner at JT’s Grill & Sports Bar or The Shack Breakfast & Lunch. Pay it forward by supporting local merchants through ShopDowntown.org’s free Shop Downtown Discount Card program where supporters of the American Cancer Society can get discounts on participating businesses in DeSoto.
Whatever you’re interested in, De Soto has something for everyone!