Kansas City's Parks and Boulevards
A fast-growing frontier community transformed itself into a beautiful urban model of parks and boulevards. In 1893, East Coast newspapers were calling Kansas City the filthiest in the United States. The drainage of many houses emptied into gullies and cesspools. There was no garbage collection service, and herding livestock through the city was only recently prohibited. Through the diligent efforts of a handful of recently arrived citizens, political, financial, and botanical skills were successfully applied to a nascent parks system. Squirrel pastures, cliffs and bluffs, ugly ravines, and shanties and slums were turned into a gridiron of green, with chains of parks and boulevards extending in all directions. Wherever the system penetrated well-settled localities, the policy was to provide playgrounds, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, pools, and field houses. By the time the city fathers were finished, Kansas City could boast of 90 miles of boulevards and 2,500 acres of urban parks.
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1890 photograph acres Armour Boulevard became block Blue River Board of Park Boulevard Commissioners boulevard system building City’s park Cliff Drive Colonnade completed connected construction Courtesy of BPRC courtesy of MHM Courtesy of MVSC-KCPL Creek dedication designed downtown east entrance feet fountain George Kessler Gladstone Boulevard Grove hillside Holmes Square improvements Independence Avenue Independence Boulevard Independence Plaza Kansas City parks Kaw Kansas Kersey Coates Kersey Coates Drive Lagoon lake land Liberty Memorial limestone located looking southeast Memorial Court Meyer Missouri River North Terrace Park Parade Park and Boulevard park board park system parks department parkway Paseo Pendergast Pendleton Heights Penn Valley Drive Penn Valley Park Pergola Pershing Road photograph above shows photograph shows planned playground Quality Hill ravine residents roadway Scarritt Point Seventeenth Street Shaft shelter house Sixteenth Street South Boulevard stone sunken garden Swope Park Tenth Street trees Twelfth Street wading pool West Bottoms West Terrace Park