Architectural Tour of Kansas City's Westside Neighborhood

On a really pretty day recently I had the chance to join my friends on a architectural tour through one of my favorite and most diverse neighborhoods here in Kansas City. 

The Westside neighborhood is a dynamic and eclectic area, with a rich history of immigrant settlement, and a mix of housing, restaurants and businesses. Centrally located and within walking distance of Downtown and the adjacent Crossroads, the Westside offers a truly unique experience within Kansas City. Its inhabitants feel strongly about maintaining the historic character of the area.  

Old brick house updated in style. 

Living atop the bluff had its advantages. “The view was a scene you couldn’t compare.” Remembered one resident, “and if there was a breeze anywhere, boy, you’d get it,” In 1882, Mulkey presented a tiny triangle of land at 16th and Belleview to the City for a park. This was the first public park in Kansas City.

Many families moved south to newer neighborhoods. An increasingly larger transient population developed. Even on Jefferson in near-mansions, families moved south to 35th Street, to Valentine Boulevard, and beyond. By 1914, the big homes had become rooming houses and during World War II, rooms were divided and re-divided to provide housing for war workers. In the post-war years loans were difficult to obtain to buy or repair the houses. Some owners tried to keep their houses in repair but without loans and insurance companies cancelling policies, houses fell into disrepair.

Modernism is popping up in new construction in the area. 

Beautiful farm like properties are still here. 

Many houses were subsequently demolished to make way for the interstate highways to the east, north and south. These, and the precipitous bluff above the railroad to the west, left Mulkey Square as an Island, physically separated from the rest of the City.

Plum trees in the neighborhood.  I never see these!! 

Artistic expression is ecnouraged in the Westside. 

This separation has created a very individual neighborhood with a real sense of identity and community. The recent attraction of downtown living in Kansas City, the birth and ongoing growth of the Crossroads Arts District and the Power and Light District, and the close proximity to the newly developed Kaufmann Centre for the Performing Arts have made Mulkey Square and the Westside in general an extremely desirable and sought after neighborhood in which to live. Older properties have been redeveloped and restored and modern and individualistic architectural styles have been introduced. The mix of stylish shops, restaurants and creative industries, such as fashion, art and design, based primarily around 17th and Summit streets further enhances the turn of the century small town feel of the neighborhood.

Businesses are coming into the neighborhood. 

Shop window

The Westside has a booming business district. 

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