Troost

Courtesy photo / Missouri Valley Special Collections -- Kansas City Public Library

What a lot of Kansas Citians love about Midtown is the historic character of the area.

Twenty-two distinct neighborhoods make up what Kansas Citians call Midtown, an area spanning from 31st to 55th streets, former KCUR news director Mary Jo Draper lays out in her book, Kansas City's Midtown Neighborhoods.

Caroline Kull / KCUR

  The Kansas City Council has endorsed a plan to make part of Troost Avenue more neighborhood friendly.

The plan, which received unanimous approval Thursday, lays out a set of design standards for commercial and residential development along the corridor — from 22nd Street to Brush Creek Boulevard.

Caroline Kull / KCUR

Updated, 10:50 a.m. Friday:   

A proposal to reduce blight along the Troost Avenue corridor in Kansas City has received initial approval from the City Plan Commission.

 

Commissioners backed the plan in a unanimous vote Wednesday, sending the plan to the Planning and Zoning Committee for review on July 15.

 

The original post continues below:

 

courtesy: Michael Schmidt and Andrew Smith

The roughly 1.5 miles between the Crossroads Arts District and 18th and Vine in Kansas City, Missouri, is not a lot of things.

It’s not a destination. It’s not a gathering place. It’s not particularly pedestrian or bike friendly. It’s not visually appealing. But what the 18th Street corridor does have going for it is a little momentum, in part due to conversations sparked by two college students.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Several dozen people representing neighborhoods, arts groups and the city of Kansas City, Missouri, assembled Tuesday night at the Kauffman Foundation to continue discussions about a proposed cultural district around the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

They broke into smaller work groups, then discussed and voted on three design concepts: 

Paul Sableman / Flickr-CC

 

When hungry Kansas Citians need a lazy night in, they often reach for the phone. They know a wide variety of local pizza places are ready to deliver cheesy goodness to their doorsteps. 

Unless they live east of Troost Avenue.

While national chains Papa John's and Domino's will deliver east of Troost, many local pizza places won't.  

Minsky's on Main Street won't go there. Pizza 51 sits three blocks away from Troost at 51st and Oak — it won't deliver there either. Neither will Pickleman's. Sarpino's Pizza in Midtown will, maybe.

Michael Schmidt / Confluence

In downtown Kansas City, Mo., the stretch along 18th Street between the Crossroads Arts District and the 18th and Vine Jazz District is roughly a little over a mile — but this span includes 52.5 acres of paved surface lots. That's more than at Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium combined.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

On First Fridays, the Crossroads Arts District attracts a crowd to an area transformed into a mecca for artist studios, galleries, restaurants, and shops. Just about a mile away, it’s a little quieter. But the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District has cultural amenities of its own, such as the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Efforts are underway to link the two districts along 18th Street.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas City, Mo.,  has seen a lot of development in the last few decades — downtown has a new entertainment district, a new arena and performing arts center, and the Crossroads has flourished with boutiques, restaurants, art studios and businesses.

But as the rest of Kansas City grows, the east side remains plagued by crumbling and abandoned homes, crime, and lack of access to grocery and retail.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Martha Tolbert has lived directly across from the Linwood Presbyterian Church and adjacent Harold Thomas Center for more than 50 years.

The massive complex at Linwood Boulevard and U.S. Highway 71 has been an architectural icon in the Ivanhoe neighborhood since its construction around the turn of the century.  

But for decades, the buildings have been vacant, the majestic bell tower crumbling and the brick walls  increasingly dilapidated.

Cara McClain / KCUR

Blanche Thomas wants neighbors. She has been living in the Ivanhoe neighborhood at 34th Street and Brooklyn Avenue in Kansas City, Mo., since 1956.

Back then, there was a grocery store and dry cleaners across the street. Houses stood on either side of hers. But now, the block looks different.

“It has changed 100 percent because in the block that I live in there are no houses,” Thomas says. “There are no people living on my block, only my son and I.”

The two apartment buildings across the street stand empty. Thomas bought the two lots on either side of her house.

Courtesy / Ron Jones

KCUR’s Beyond Our Borders project has kicked off a year-long examination of the geographic lines that separate our region. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR

The sidewalk outside of Wanda Taylor's house on Tracy Avenue in Kansas City, Mo., is cracking – it's bad enough that her dog, Faith, steps gingerly around it during an evening walk.

All of the sidewalks in Troostwood, where Taylor is neighborhood association president, used to look like this. But two years ago, the sidewalks north of 51st Street were replaced as part of the Green Impact Zone project. The fresh, new concrete is stamped "GIZ 2012."

“Now see how nice sidewalks – the difference that they make?” asks Taylor.

Paul Sableman / Flickr -- CC

To conclude KCUR's extended investigation of Troost Avenue as a border that Kansas Citians perceive as a dividing line, Central Standard asked a question that often goes unspoken. That is, when we talk about Troost, as a city, are we really talking about race?

When we talk about Troost in Kansas City, are we really talking about race? A panel of people who live, work and think on the street discuss whether our Troost meme is useful, or causes further divisions.

Guests:

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Ida Dockary and Florence Hayden have seen it all during the 55 years they’ve lived on the 3800 block of the Ivanhoe neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., just a few doors down from one another.

At 81 and 86 years old, respectively, they were there when Ivanhoe was a thriving residential and business community. They watched as U.S. Highway 71 bisected the neighborhood, eliminating whole blocks of homes. They saw their streets become infested with crime and blight, and change from a mix of races to mostly all black.

The Story Behind Kansas City's House Of Cards

Jul 9, 2014
Cara McClain / KCUR

Have you ever driven through the Historic Northeast neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., and seen a building with playing cards instead of windows? 

That's the house of cards, an abandoned apartment building at 7th and Indiana streets, that community members used to create public art. After a couple of years of dormancy, there's now some renewed interest to continue the effort.

Here's the story of how that project began: 

A couple years back, the Historic Northeast neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., had a problem.

Transforming Ivanhoe

Jul 3, 2014

Ivanhoe is a neighborhood on Kansas City’s east side with a rich history. Though recent decades have brought on hard times, the community, led by spokeswoman Margaret May, has rallied to restore its former glory. Some residents are frustrated by vacant houses on their blocks, while others love the new farmer’s market and point–with a sigh of relief—to reduced crime rates.

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Few neighborhoods in Kansas City. Mo., have faced as many problems as the Ivanhoe neighborhood in the city's urban core.

Crime, drug houses, frequent vacancy, and trash buildup have plagued the area for decades, but neighborhood residents have been working towards change. 

Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council Executive Director Margaret May has worked in the neighborhood since 2001, and has seen it blossom as residents like Ida Dockery take ownership and responsibility for cleaning it up.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

There are thousands of vacant lots in Kansas City, Mo. In the Ivanhoe neighborhood, from 31st Street to Emanuel Cleaver Boulevard and Prospect to Paseo, the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council owns more than 150.

"Every lot can't be a community garden. Every lot can't be an urban farm. So it's like, what else can we do with these lots?" asks Dina Newman, who's coordinating a project in Ivanhoe called LOTS of Love.

Laura Ziegler

The Historic Northeast has a concentration of social services such as soup kitchens, shelters and health centers.

And the services tend to draw large numbers of the homeless to the area.

During the past year and a half, residents have been organizing to deal with some of the accompanying issues, like excess trash, sanitation and property damage. 

Elle Moxley / KCUR

A rusted metal "No Trespassing" sign hangs on a post outside the boarded-up Thacher School in the Historic Northeast in Kansas City, Mo.

On the other side of the tall fence, the grass is neatly trimmed and the empty parking lot is litter-free. The brick exterior, once a popular canvas for graffiti artists, has been scrubbed mostly clean. A single blue doodle is the only evidence of vandalism neighbors say was once common at the vacant school.

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library / Kansas City, Mo.

Earlier this year, we embarked on a year-long investigation of the lines that divide and unite us — starting with a look at Troost Avenue.

The road has been used as a border for many things, including neighborhood associations, census tracts, political districts and public schools. 

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library / Kansas City, Mo.

Cliff Drive in Kansas City, Mo., hugs the limestone bluffs that separate the stately turn-of-the-century mansions in the Historic Northeast neighborhood from the industry and train tracks of the Missouri River bottoms.

The road was purchased from the estate of Reverend Nathan Scarritt around 1900.

Scarritt and his family were early settlers in Illinois, and moved to Missouri in the mid-1820s as pioneers.

Laura Spencer / KCUR

Artists have a reputation for moving into places others don’t – turning areas once full of empty buildings into thriving districts, such as the Crossroads Arts District in Kansas City, Mo. So, it’s not surprising they’d take a look at the thousands of vacant lots and vacant houses in the city, exploring everything from sculpture parks to art galleries on some of the least desirable lots.

Creating a new space with a purpose

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

The homicide epidemic among young black men on Kansas City’s east side is leaving a generation of grieving teens in its wake, and some in the crime-fighting community feel black churches need to change their message to better help these young people deal with their loss.

The Black Archives of Mid-America

The Black Archives of Mid-America has provided a place to learn about African-American history in Kansas City, Mo., for the past four decades.  

And during that time, it has amassed a vast collection of papers, photographs and even physical structures to show what life was like as a black Kansas Citian. 

As the organization celebrates its 40th anniversary this week, we wanted to know more about the types of materials in the collection that started in 1974, when Horace Peterson III founded the Black Archives.

(Peggy Lowe/KCUR)

There’s a hush in the community room at the Lucile H. Bluford Public Library at 30th and Prospect streets, something like the quiet in a church just before the service starts.

The two dozen folks gathered here at 6 p.m. on a Monday night in June want to hear from the four sitting as a panel in the front of the room, people that despite their young ages, have years of mourning to share.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Recently, Kansas State University researchers visited every park in Kansas City, Mo., to analyze the distribution of parks and park amenities throughout the city.

They found low-income neighborhoods, including Kansas City's east side, have fewer playgrounds than high-income neighborhoods. That’s in spite of having a higher concentration of parkland in those same neighborhoods. Researchers studied 219 parks and about 12,000 acres of parkland.

Green space in low-income areas

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Kansas City’s Historic Northeast is known for its great cuisine and iconic old homes.

But it also grapples with a reputation of vandalism and other crime, says Lisa Donnici, who moved to the Historic Northeast roughly 14 years ago.

Her relationship with the area — made up of six distinct Kansas City neighborhoods that are just south of the Missouri River — goes back much farther, however.

She grew up there as a child, but her mother moved the family away so Donnici could attend schools in the suburbs. Marriage brought her back to the area.

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