Continuing “The Brookside Story”

Why is Brookside such a desirable, classic neighborhood?  Read these sentences below, from LaDene Morton’s book, “The Brookside Story”:

To be a child in the neighborhoods around the Brookside Shops after 1950 would be akin to living around the corner from paradise.  On a Saturday afternoon, kids could ride their bikes into Brookside and fill their entire day with childhood adventures.

She goes on to talk about The Brookside (movie) Theater, the Velvet Freeze, Katz Drugs and the Brookside Record Shop..these places and many more could entertain kids for hours on a weekend afternoon.

Those specific spots are gone now, but children (and adults) can still ride their bikes to Brookside and spend the day exploring.  My daughters do–they shop at Beauty Express, Stuff, World’s Window, The Dime Store, Baskin Robbin’s.  During the warmer months, we’ll walk down with neighbors to The Roasterie for coffee and smoothies.  It’s this walkability and sense of a close, local community that keeps Brookside thriving.

At one point there was a proposed freeway through the Country Club District.  In 1959, Kansas City started to condemn the streetcar right-of-way to plan the highway–from 85th north to Westport.  This six lane, non access highway would have cut through the heart of the district, starting and Oak and continuing west past Wornall.  Homeowners in the area close to the Trolley line rebelled, citing the inevitable loss of value in their homes.  Outrage grew among the residents, who retained several lawyers and threatened litigation.  Eventually in 1965, a Jackson County court dismissed the case, citing the City could not condemn the line. What eventually happened was the construction of the Bruce R Watkins Drive (Missouri 71 Highway) to the east.

What a nightmare that would have been, a highway cutting into the heart of Brookside!  It hurts to even think about it.  Nothing would ever happen like that now–once again, the local shopowners and residents would rise up in protest.  I think there are similarities to this situation and  the proposed new Posinelli building on the Country Club Plaza.  Unfortunately, the Plaza is no longer under local ownership and the building will probably get built, despite the continuing protests from persons all over the world.

Thanks for reading my blog, your comments are welcome!  You can reach me at mary.hutchison@prukc.com

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