The Paseo (Kansas City, Missouri)
Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard (also known as Paseo Boulevard, Paseo, or The Paseo) is a major north–south parkway in Kansas City, Missouri. It runs 19 miles (31 km) (85 blocks) in the center of the city: from Cliff Drive and Lexington Avenue on the bluffs above the Missouri River in the Pendleton Heights historic neighborhood, to 85th Street and Woodland Avenue. The parkway holds 223 acres (0.90 km2) of boulevard parkland dotted with several Beaux-Arts-style decorative structures and architectural details maintained by the city's Parks and Recreation department.
The name for Kansas City's first major boulevard was suggested by the first President of the Parks Board, August R. Meyer (1851-1905), based on the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City. In 2019 the Paseo was renamed to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd by the local city council, though petitions to subject the change to a citywide vote have since been submitted after much dismay from local residents
Kansas City's extensive parkway and boulevard system is part of the City Beautiful Movement. The Paseo parkway is modeled on the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City; from which it takes its name. From its start at Cliff Drive, the original alignment changed to install the on-ramp to Interstate 35, it curves slightly southwest before heading almost due south for most of its length. A few city parks are located adjacent to The Paseo, such as Parade Park (Truman Road & The Paseo) and Troost Park (31st Street & The Paseo).
The parkway was laid out in the early 1900s by George Kessler under the direction of August Robert Meyer, first president of the Commission of Parks. The Paseo, conceived as a series of small parks, extended through a former slum area and contained intersections that featured a formal sunken garden, a pergola, and large fountains reminiscent of those at Versailles. Its construction was preceded by the eviction of African-American families that had to move to other overcrowed slums. Its northern end acquired an unsavory reputation during the early 1920s owing to the spread of prostitution, gambling and narcotics in the area. In the 1920, with the re-emergence of the African-American population in the surrounding areas, the Paseo stood out as "ribbon of white in an otherwise black village", with more than half the white population living in the area having a Paseo address.
The Paseo intersects with US 71, US 40, I-70, US 24, and US 56. The Christopher S. Bond Bridge (which replaced the defunct Paseo Bridge in 2010) does not actually carry The Paseo boulevard but features direct north-south access onto the road via appropriate exit-entrance ramps. Trucks are prohibited from using the Paseo.
Points of interest along The Paseo
- The Housing Authority of Kansas City, Missouri is located at 299 Paseo.
- Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences is located at Independence Ave & Paseo.
- A Daniel Chester French sculpture honoring Meyer, dedicated in 1909, stands at 10th & Paseo.
- Dr. Generous Henderson House, designed by Rudolf Markgraf in 1899, is the only remaining example of Second Renaissance Revival style in Kansas City, on the National Register of Historic Places, at 1016 Paseo.
- Parade Park from Truman Road to 18th Street. It is home to the new Kansas City Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy.
- "Bird Lives," statue honoring Charlie "Bird" Parker, jazz saxophone player, by Robert Graham, at 17th Terrace.
- The 18th and Vine Historic District, on the National Register of Historic Places at 18th & Paseo. Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and American Jazz Museum is at 18th & Vine.
- The Paseo YMCA, plans for the future home of the Buck O'Neil Education Research Center.
- Troost Lake and Park, located at 27th Street.
- Scottish Rite Temple, monumental Beaux-Arts/Egyptian Revival civic auditorium, designed by Keene and Simpson (1930), at Linwood Boulevard.
- Stoplight, unusual signal made of cut-stone in the middle of the intersection designed by Edward Buehler Delk (1931), at Linwood Boulevard.
- Faxon Montessori, located at Linwood Boulevard (32nd Street).
- Keneseth Israel-Beth Shalom Synagogue (now Victorious Life Church), colorful twin mosaic domes on a Byzantine-style building, by Greenbaum, Hardy, and Schumacher (1927), at 34th Street.
- Plaza East Apartments previously Village Green and Brush Creek Village are located from 45th St to Cleaver II Blvd.
- Gates BBQ restaurant on Cleaver II Boulevard at Paseo. The headquarters are located at 4621 Paseo. (The former Gates Bar-B-Q headquarters was at Volker Boulevard.)
- Brush Creek, from Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard to Volker Boulevard.
- "PASEO" Rocks and Stairs, At Volker Blvd, leading up to the old Paseo High School, now Paseo Academy.
- Rockhurst University, from Rockhurst Road (52nd Street) to 54th Street.
- The Landing Mall, located at 63rd Street.
- Nazarene Theological Seminary and formerly the location of the Church of the Nazarene World Headquarters, at Meyer Boulevard. The site of the old headquarters is now Ewing Marion Kauffman School.
- Marlborough Community Center is located at 8200 Paseo.
- Route 85-Paseo travels on parts of Paseo between Armour Boulevard (35th Street) and 85th Street. (formerly Route 54-Armour/Paseo)
Sites named after The Paseo
- Paseo Bridge, near its starting point.
- Paseo Academy, a magnet performing arts high school formerly known as Paseo High School.
- Route 85-Paseo, a city transportation bus route.
- Paseo YMCA, a historic YMCA that is part of a renovation plan.
- 39th Street (Kansas City)
- Linwood Boulevard (Kansas City)
- Prospect Avenue (Kansas City, Missouri)
- Southwest Boulevard (Kansas City)
- Kansas City, Missouri Parks & Recreation, 2008 Reference Book, "Parkways," p. 24. Archived 2009-03-25 at the Wayback Machine
- "Inventory - Nomination form: 1016 The Paseo" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places. U.S. National Park Service. March 10, 1978. p. 7. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
- After months of delay, Kansas City Council renames The Paseo for Martin Luther King, The Kansas City Star, January 24, 2019.
- Save the Paseo Petition Officially Filed The Northeast News, April 26th, 2019.
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- Sherry Lamb Schirmer (2002). A City Divided: The Racial Landscape of Kansas City, 1900-1960. University of Missouri Press. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-8262-1391-4.