|Location||2450 Grand Boulevard
Kansas City, MO 64108
|Capacity||85-acre (340,000 m2) commercial complex|
|Architect||Edward Larrabee Barnes (master)|
Crown Center is a commercial complex located near Downtown Kansas City, Missouri between Gillham Road and Main Street to the east and west, and between OK/E 22nd St and E 27th St to the north and south. The shopping center is anchored by Halls, a department store which is owned and operated by Hallmark Cards. The neighborhood contains numerous residences, retail establishments, entertainment venues, and restaurants (including the American Restaurant, the only Forbes Travel Guide four-star restaurant in Missouri). It is also home to Kansas City's two largest hotels, the global headquarters of Hallmark Cards, and the headquarters of Shook, Hardy & Bacon and Lathrop & Gage, two of Kansas City's largest law firms.
Before the First World War, Downtown Kansas City was heavily populated and bustling. The area today home to Crown Center was an extension of the Union Hill historic neighborhood. Gradually, however, the center of population for the metro area moved south, and by the Second World War the area today comprising Crown Center had become dilapidated. Although Hallmark had maintained its headquarters at 26th Street and Grand Avenue since 1922, the headquarters itself and nearby Union Station comprised the only non-slum in the area. Instead there were old warehouses, used car lots, and vacant buildings.
In 1966, Donald J. Hall, Sr. became President and CEO of Hallmark Cards, taking over from his father, Joyce Hall. Joyce Hall had long wished to develop the area around the corporate headquarters, and with his new leadership Donald Hall quickly made it known that he wished to renew the area entirely. Hallmark quietly began acquiring all the property surrounding its headquarters, and consulted with urban planning experts about the possibility of creating an experimental "city within a city" on the property. The City of Kansas City formally approved the plans for Crown Center (named after the Hallmark corporate symbol) by the end of 1967.
The master design was prepared by Edward Larrabee Barnes. Harry Weese designed Westin Crown Center Hotel (in which Signboard Hill is included in the design as a waterfall); Norman Fletcher designed the first residences. Henry Cobb of the I.M. Pei firm designed 2600 Grand office and Dan Kiley laid out the park in the south area of the complex. Warren Plattner, designer of Windows on the World, designed the interior space at the American Restaurant when it was operated by Joseph Baum (who also operated The Four Seasons and the Rainbow Room). The original concept for the shops was an international bazaar, part of which was a maze-like area known as West Village designed by architects François Dallegret and Joseph Baker. West Village proved unsuccessful and was replaced by a more conventional layout.
Today, the shopping and entertainment complex features three levels of shops and restaurants, a set of grand open air fountains, live theatres, movie theatres, an ice skating rink and overstreet walkways leading throughout the complex and to Kansas City's Union Station. One of the most notable stores is the Halls department store designed by Paul László. The complex also includes the 45-story Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center (which was Missouri's tallest building when built), a Westin hotel, and two upscale residential apartment skyscrapers. Kansas City's three largest law firms maintain their headquarters in other skyscrapers in the neighborhood. The neighborhood's grounds are replete with parks, fountains, green spaces and unique sculptures.
The global headquarters campus for Hallmark Cards is located on the eastern side of Crown Center.
Mayor's Christmas Tree
A century-old tradition, the Mayor's Christmas Tree at Hallmark Cards’ Crown Center is strung with more than 7,200 white lights during the winter holidays and stands 100 feet tall, which is taller than the famous National Christmas Tree and Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, as well as the White House Christmas Tree. A special guest or celebrity "flips the switch" each year. For example, in 2010 Chef Celina Tio (owner and chef of Julian in K.C., Missouri) on Food Network's The Next Iron Chef, joined Kansas City's Mayor Mark Funkhouser to light the tree. The lighting ceremony is held the day after Thanksgiving and the annual Country Club Plaza Lighting Ceremony. After the holidays, the tree is cut into commemorative ornaments and sold to benefit the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund, which assists city residents in poverty.
office building (headquarters of Shook, Hardy & Bacon).
Hallmark Cards corporate offices.
- Kipp, Robert A. (April 20, 1995). Crown Center: An Emerging Vision for Urban Development (PDF) (Speech). Charles N. Kimball Lecture. Kansas City, Missouri: Western Historical Manuscript Collection Kansas City. Retrieved 2014-09-16.
- Décarie, Jean. "West Village". Arteria (in French). François Dallegret. Retrieved 2014-09-16.
- "Attractions". 10 September 2014.
- Kaut, Steve (24 November 2010). "Chiefs top running backs will flip the switch Thanksgiving night at the Plaza Lighting Ceremony - NBCActionNews.com".
- "Lights, fireworks and music: KC holiday traditions - KansasCity.com". 27 November 2010. Archived from the original on November 27, 2010.
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