Kansas City: Westport or the Plaza?

About the only thing in Kansas City that I found of interest was the architecture. It's got some nice old brick buildings, some run-down areas, and some green spaces. (Lots of pictures here). It's not just one big shopping mall that sprang up out of the prairie like, say, Dallas. But, like other Midwest cities it has a big problem: it's as flat as a pancake.

liberty tower in kansas city

The only way I could gain some elevation in the city was by climbing their Liberty Memorial Tower which commemorates World War I (more pictures here and here). It cost only $2 to take the elevator up, and once on top, in addition to a view of Kansas City's skyline, you can practically see the curvature of the earth.

skyline of kansas city

If I hadn't just been driving through I would have spent some time taking pictures of the buildings. The area just to the south of I70 (I drove down the street which is west of McGee) was pretty desolate and disheveled. But around 40th street things looked better, with nice old brick apartment buildings with green areas. The ones to the north were in various stages of disrepair and most of the ones to the south were restored.

I had actually arrived in the area the night before and, rather than trying to get a motel in a fairly large city with which I wasn't familiar, I kept driving out towards the eastern suburbs, specifically Independence. The latter named city is a place where - dare I say it - yahoos seem to spend the night driving their cars up and down the main thoroughfare. They also refer to "bags" as "sacks", a locution I found disconcerting when asked "do you want a sack for that?" My answer - uttered only to myself - was "no thanks, I already have one."

I had heard about a mysterious bohemian area called "Westport" where all the weirdos supposedly congregate. It wasn't exactly Berkeley, just a basic artsy area inhabited by weirdos, but of the wholesome Midwestern variety. Here's their historical society. Other options for visitors include the Plaza, which I believe I drove through without stopping or shopping.

There seemed to be a large number of lofts for rent but there seemed to be more lofts than people to rent them. In the words of an interviewee who asked that their shop remain nameless, "KC is known for its BBQ and its Chiefs. And, somewhat for its jazz. It's a dying city." As an explanation of Westport, they told me that most of the students in Kansas City are there for the medical school, and they don't have time for Berkeley-style amusements.


United States
39° 6' 0" N, 94° 34' 48" W
May 6, 2006 – 9:43pm