Monthly Archives: September 2017

Troost Avenue, 55th St to 58th St

The area along Troost Avenue between 55th St and 58th St has seen growth matching much of the rest of Kansas City. When it was founded, the half of the blocks facing the streets to the west and east (Harrison St and Forest Ave respectively)  on either side of Troost were broken into neat rectangular divisions that were quickly filled with single-family houses. By the 1950s all the divisions had been filled with houses, and since Troost’s extension here, businesses have filled the other half facing the avenue.

Since the 1950s, many of the same houses still remain, fairly well maintained, but the commercial/public corridor enclosing Troost has seen many bouts of reconstruction, new business, and vacancy. Many parking lots sit unused, buildings are boarded up, but the remaining public buildings and spaces (churches, a park, schools), and the small shops, give the area a bit of livelihood.





Troost Ave. 78th St. and 82nd Terr.

The area of Troost Avenue between the areas of 78th St. and 82nd Terrace were not part of the Kansas City until it was annexed in 1947.  This tax assessment photo from 1940 shows Mock’s Auto Repair shop at 7924 Troost Ave.

According the census information, 79th St. seemed to be a sharp dividing line for race.  The area south of 79th St. and east of Troost consistently reported a large majority of white population while the area north of 79th St. and east of Troost drastically changed population to a reported majority of black residents beginning in the 1970’s.  The area now is being revitalized and is home to the Academy for Integrated Arts and a new “Nature and Play” community space set to be finished in the fall of 2017.

Troost Avenue Historical Map and Photo Analysis – 75th to 78th Street

In  1900 Troost Avenue from 75th to 78th Street was farmland well outside the limits. Within 50 years it became a thriving suburb and today it has been fully absorbed into the urban core of Kansas City. The 1909 annexation more than doubled the size of Kansas City. In the following decades, Troost from 75th to 78th was still relatively rural and undeveloped. An initial attempt to develop the area was initiated by the Methodist Church who were attempting to create Kansas City’s first university, Lincoln and Lee University and land was bought just west of Troost and 75th for the proposed university. While the initial plan never materialized, the project of building a university for the city was eventually undertaken by JC Nichols and William Rockhill Nelson, two of the wealthiest, and most powerful, individuals in Kansas City at the time. The 1925 atlas indicates this land as “University Acres.”

Comparing the state of the neighborhoods immediately surrounding UMKC – Countryside, the Plaza, Wornall-Homestead, and Brookside – to state of the neighborhoods around Troost from 75th to 78th demonstrates the impact the real estate market of the 1920’s and 30’s still has on the built environment, and the character of the city. The decisions and events that prevented Lincoln and Lee University from forming and countless other decisions have profoundly affected the daily lives of residents of the area, and the nature of the community.


Northernmost Troost

The area of Troost from 4th to Independence had seem some radical change. At two separate periods of time entire blocks of residential housing had essentially vanished between focused time periods. It was the first half of the 20th century when the a block on the corner of 4th and Troost was razed for a park and playground around a school, but, ultimately became a community center and empty field. The second, and probably part of of the most notable event in Kansas City History, was the creation of the Eisenhower Interstate System. In this focus area an entire block (one of many around the city) displaced over a dozen homes and business for an highway onramp for I35/I29.

Personally, one of the funniest/most serendipitous moments of my project was while going through the 1940 Tax assessment photographs I discovered that the photographs I had taken a month prior matched almost perfectly to those taken 67 years ago.

Troost Ave between 34th street and 37th street

Troost avenue between 34th through 37th street are areas that have drastically changed over time. In 1917, these blocks were mostly vacant with just a few buildings. Thirty-four years later, the vacant lots in this area had completely vanished. In their place was now housing, and an increased amount of commercial buildings. Fast forward to today, many homes and businesses have been demolished, and those who weren’t are left unoccupied.

These are two pictures from 1940(left) and 2017 (right). As you can see the picture on the left shows a business with housing on both sides. Now in 2017, the lot where the business once was is now unoccupied while the housing next to it have been demolished, leaving a vacant space.

Photograph from 1940 Tax assessor.                       Photograph from google maps.

Volker and Brush Creek Boulevard

Brush Creek West
Brush Creek East

While first gathering information in the field, I started on the bridge located above Brush Creek at the intersection of Troost and Volker Boulevard. From the start, a clear physical difference between the west side of Troost and the east became apparent. Viewing from the west, a picturesque landscape can be seen before the backdrop of the Plaza. Directly across the street the landscape drastically changes. Curved open pathways become linear and confined, green grass turns to gravel and the view of open blue skies become obscured by towering power lines.

Troost Avenue Map and Photo Analysis: 31st to 34th

From millionaire homes in the late 19th century to emptiness and murals depicting what once was in the beginning of the 21st century. The four block stretch from 31st to 34th started off as an escape from city life, as described by Webster Withers. Along with his neighbor L.V. Harkness, possibly one of the wealthiest men to live in Kansas City. Due to the growth of the city’s population and the ever-expanding core, other not so wealthy residents moved out, including to 31/34. As the population increased so did its market, seen in the expansion of the city’s streetcar lines out to 33rd and Troost by 1889. Many businessmen saw the economic potential in this area and quickly invested. This led to the Wirthman Building, a Woolworth Five-and-Dime, the Firestone Building, and many others until 33rd when you could find mainly residential buildings along Troost. The landscape stayed virtually unchanged until the late 1960’s when the area saw a racial mixup and the population went from exclusively white to many whites leaving and a newfound majority of blacks by 1970. Crime and poverty rates ran throughout the 31/34 section from then on leading to the vacancy and sometimes even demolition of historic buildings. In 2017, this section of Troost is inhabited by people who look to live and do the best with what they have. They are strong, resilient, and see change as just a test to their strength. These four blocks have seen the wealthiest and poorest of Kansas City, and throughout the years the physical landscape has changed drastically, but one thing has remained the same, they have all chased their own dreams.

Civil Rights Mural by Alexander Nation. Linwood Boulevard and Troost Avenue

Between 58th and 61st Street – Troost Avenue

According to the book Pendergast! by Lawrence H. Larsen and Nancy J. Hulston, Kansas City nearly doubled in size in the early 1900s thanks to many annexations that brought the city limits all the way to 79th St. This area just west of Troost shows the Crestwood housing developments – a development of JC Nichols after he constructed the Country Club Plaza. His contributions very much defined the plaza area, including the segregation between East KC and West KC.

This image here of many of the streets to the west of Troost reveals an interesting amount of regularity in housing as well as a nice break from the grid system, but right along Troost the buildings suddenly seem irregular and spaced out. Although this intrigued me, I can’t make any conclusions based only off of this information.

Nothing directly on Troost is of interest here with the same sparse buildings demonstrated earlier, but directly west of these blocks is a school that is still there today along with a golf club, which relocated in 1963. The nature of this area changes a bit in the 1950s, where all along Troost are auto shops, auto sales, and machining shops. That is presumably where the money was at that time. The increase in business interest also meant more buildings, which went stagnant throughout the late 1900s and into present day. Now, density is roughly equivalent to that of the 50s along these blocks of Troost with quite a few auto sales still around.

Troost Avenue Historical Map & Photo Analysis 18th Street – 22nd Street

In 1950(figure ground on the left), the area from 18th street to 22nd street on Troost had a lot more buildings and Troost Avenue was still a straight street. Although it is hard to tell in the 2017 figure ground once Troost intersects with 20th, it curves up and is a bridge that goes over 22nd. I only had two intersections with streets, 18th and 19th, because of how the road has been altered. The map from 1950 was also before the highway was put in to the west of Troost. I believe the highway was a major thing that drove businesses away and the bridge as well because it was a complete reconstruction of the road. The area now is not cared for and majority of the buildings or just objects in that area have graffiti on them. Nobody is out on the streets and I barely saw anybody driving there. It is an industrial area with scrap and salvage yards lining the block.  Everything that is a business is either locked up, has a fence with barbed wire, or advertises that they have security cameras. You can tell on certain buildings where the rest has been torn down or where the original windows have been taken out and replaced with conventional ones or just covered with brick completely. You can also tell where two building became one and were just painted the same color. Train tracks run through the area and there was no residential area from 18th to 22nd.

Admiral Blvd- 10th Street Gabrielle Anderson

I found of that Admiral Blvd all the way to Tenth street has really grown over time. It started off with barley any buildings, and it has now evolved into something much greater. There is some empty lots located by Tenth Street, but it doesnt take away from the beauty of the street. It was beautiful to see the advancemnt of the territoy I evaluated. Homeless people were sometimes found walking along the blocks. Independence Avenue a couple of blocks away is known for drug deals and prostitution, so that was something I never knew about until I went down there. The sandborn maps were cool to look at, and they really helped me get a better understanding on what I was looking at.

25th and 28th Street

For the Historical Map and Photo Analysis project I was assigned the 25th and 28th street blocks. The streets were not included in the early 1895 Sanborn maps due to their higher numbers. 25th street in its early period was lacking much development. The Sanborn maps showed one or two buildings per page. As the maps moved more westward there was evidence of more development and the area appeared more commercial. For 28th street the earliest Sanborn maps were similar to 25th street with buildings spread sporadically throughout the images. Current developments of the streets support the early Sanborn maps. 25th street is a residential area for the most part but as you move further westward the scenery changes to a more commercial area, with the UMKC hospital hill campus in the area. For 28th street it remained more residential with the development of several parks in the area and also the union cemetery.

Troost Ave. From 25th street to 27th street

The 25th through the 27th blocks of Troost Avenue have since at least 1885 been primarily residential homes. With many of the properties to the west having single family homes and the east side morphing from similar homes into apartment homes it endorses the idea of Troost being the racial dividing line with whites on the west and blacks on the east. The are is now a large apartment complex to the west and currently abandoned and  barren to the east with a new development soon to come.

25th and Troost West side 1940
25th and Troost East side 1940

Troost Avenue : Between 43rd Street and Brush Creek BLVD


Troost Avenue is a major street that stretches north to south in Kansas City, Missouri. The development of Troost avenue began in the year of 1834 near 31st Street and the street continued to develop into the 1900s, introducing movie theaters, apartments, retail stores and more. Troost avenue is also historically known as a racial dividing line in Kansas City. My research was over Brush Creek BLVD  and 43rd street along Troost avenue. It has a few changes overtime for example, It went from grid setting into more commercial place and the grids begin to dense with businesses and residents. Business like Cars & Auto were more dominant in the period of 1909 to 1950 but eventually it started to decrease in those businesses. Shopping business like CVS, Dollar tree were introduced as well as bus transportation system like RideKC and Max in the present time but it is still is a dividing residential place between high incomes and low income.

Used Auto Sales
CVS Pharmacy
Dollar Tree

Troost, From Meyer Boulevard south to 66th Terrace and Environs.

A series of homes of different vintage on 65th Street. From Left; a simple craftsman bungalow, a modest tudor-style home, a post-war two story vernacular home, a post-war cape cod, and a post-war split-level.


The area of Troost just south of Meyer Boulevard has always been of a commercial character. However, a number of east-west streets in the area contain an interesting mix of home styles and vintages.

For example, on 65th Street, the lots on the eastern extent, near The Paseo were the first to be developed. This construction occurred in the late 1910’s and 1920’s.  At that time, The Paseo was a thriving residential boulevard and one of the premier addresses in the city. It makes sense that the lots nearest the grand boulevard would be the most desirable.

The humble commercial nature of Troost made the western extent of the block less desirable for residential development.  Much of this end of the block remained undeveloped until the housing shortage following WWII.

The staggered development of the block led to some interesting contrasts in residential architecture. On the western portion, one will find a mix of craftsman bungalows, traditional four-squares with front porches, and Tudor styles. All popular in the early 20th century. The eastern portion features cape cods, split-levels, and simple post-war vernacular homes. These styles were popular and inexpensive to construct after the World War.

Many of these homes still exist today. Some have undergone extensive renovations, masking the identifying characteristics common to their types, but with close examination you can recognize the same home in modern and antique photographs.


Troost Ave and 10th St. – 13th St.

Troost Ave. have been a major dividing line in Kansas City, MO. since I can remember. I had the opportunity to research the area of Troost Ave and 10th St. – 13th St. When I first arrived, the area seemed very dead and there was only a few businesses. There was not much automobile traffic in the area but there was a good amount of people traveling by foot. I noticed three bus stops on the main corners. The City Union Mission building is right on the corner of 10th and Troost Ave and seemed to attract many homeless people to this area. I was only at my location for less than an hour, but I had multiple people come up to me and ask if I had any extra cash I could spare. I also noticed there were some people sleeping in the sidewalks. Below are images of the main buildings/businesses between 10th St and 13th St on Troost Ave. In these photos, one can see most of the businesses are surrounded by tall black metal gates which makes me believe they are trying to keep people out.

This was only my experience for less than an hour. After researching I notices that Troost Ave. was once a major street for business and homes. Overtime, these four blocks went from residential housing to a more industrial area. It is truly sad to see such a important street with so much history go down the drain. Below are images of what is now Troost Ave. and 10th St. – 13th St. You can see how deserted the area has become over the years.

Troost Ave. Between 52nd/Rockhurst and 55th

The 53rd block of Troost Avenue is home to many buildings owned by Rockhurst University. Michael Dowling, founder, purchased 25 acres in 1909 which in the next year would become Rockhurst College. The college later merged with Rockhurst High School in 1923. The college remained on site and the two institutions used the same campus until the high school moved to a separate location in 1962.

Troost Ave. Between 31st St. and Armour Blvd.

Since 1896, the area between 31st Street and Armour Boulevard on Troost Avenue has evolved from a neighborhood of scattered homes, to a bustling commercial and entertainment district, to a graveyard for abandoned properties.  The 1896 Sanborn maps show many large, undeveloped lots, with homes scattered around the street–the area was entirely residential.  By 1951, however, the area between 31st and 33rd streets had developed into a commercial district full of theatres, drugstores, bowling alleys, banks, and rest stops.  South of 33rd St. remained primarily residential, and it was a dense neighborhood with many homes.  Today, only a few houses remain, and many properties–both commercial and residential–have been destroyed or abandoned, leaving the area an empty shell of its former self.

The area full of businesses and cars. 3130 Troost Ave. 1940 Tax Assessor Photograph.
3130 Troost Ave, like several other surviving commercial properties, is now vacant. 2017.

Troost Ave. between 70 st. and 72nd ter.

Troost Ave. is home to an extraordinary graveyard around 70th street. Shortly after the area where Troost Ave. was bought by the city, the Cavalry Cemetary was built. This monstrous cemetery was designed against the grain of the grid that surrounds it’s with winding pathways and beautiful landscaping. This is a Catholic cemetery that holds over sixteen thousand internments, dotted with grand moments of the famous and rich. Theodore Roosevelt even remarked that these grounds consisted of the finest collection of trees he had ever seen.

Analysis of Troost Ave. Between 40th St. and 43rd St.

Troost Avenue between 40th Street and 43rd Street is dominated by residential land use with few operating commercial buildings today. Iron bars placed on home windows and doors and high fences surrounding businesses suggest a lack of sense of security within the community. Little human activity occurs on the streets and what does stems from the Ride KC bus stops along the avenue, the only recent reinvestment seen within the three blocks. The earliest maps of the blocks are from 1909 which show few structures and many undeveloped lots. The area has slightly decreased in density from 1951 to 2017. The decrease in density is due to the demolition of many homes. Yet, those houses and apartment complexes still seen today are the original buildings from the early 1900’s. 1951 marked the peak of economic growth within the area with the most stores operating at the time. Since then, due to the disinvestment of the area, 40th Street to 43rd Street has many vacant building spaces that have not had reinvestment put back into them.



Troost Avenue Between Volker Boulevard and 52nd Street/Rockhurst Road

Troost Avenue from Volker Boulevard to 52nd Street/Rockhurst Road is an area that is dominated by two land uses- institutional and residential. On the west side of Troost, a portion of the UMKC campus can be found on the blocks bounded by 50th to 52nd Streets and Troost to Rockhill Road. The campus of The Stowers Institute for Medical Research can be found on the block just north of UMKC. The east side of Troost comprises of the two neighborhoods- Troostwood and Rockhurst Park as well as a small portion of the Rockhurst University campus on the corner of Troost and Rockhurst Road.

The western side of Troost has boomed over the last 70 years with expansions to both the UMKC campus and the Stowers Institute campus, which in 1950 was Menorah Hospital. The additions of Katz Hall, as well as the Spencer Chemistry and Biological Sciences, and other general buildings were added between 1965-1975 on the UMKC campus. The Menorah Hospital had several expansions after 1950 and eventually became the Stowers Institute around 2000.

Comparatively, the residential side hasn’t changed as much since 1950. The demolition of all homes facing Troost Avenue and 49th Street were the biggest changes seen on this side. In the Troostwood neighborhood, these demolished homes were replaced by seven low income housing opportunities known as the Troostwood Townhomes. In the Rockhurst Park neighborhood, the demolished homes were replaced by a Go Chicken Go restaurant, a Rockhurst University parking garage, as well as two other Rockhurst University buildings.

East 13th Street and Truman Road

After the 1960s into the 1980s, Missouri shifted its interest from expanding highways in rural and primary areas to urban areas. To quote an article made by the Missouri Department of Transportation, “In addition, the construction of urban interstate highways frequently led to the destruction of vibrant, working-class neighborhoods in both St. Louis and Kansas City.  Interstate construction disproportionately affected poor, ethnic residents in urban areas.  Highway planners wanted to keep costs low, so they designed roads that went through depressed neighborhoods where property values were low and right of way could be acquired cheaply.” (Missouri Department of Transportation, 2006). Minority neighborhoods were deeply affected and citizens were furious. When looking at the assigned area of East 13th Street and Truman Road along Troost Avenue, there’s not a robust residential area. The building of I-70 in my assigned area, explained a lot as to what I saw when going to my assigned area around East 13th Street and Truman Road, the area near 70 highway; it was extremely underdeveloped. There were plots of land that were vacant with a few businesses not open to the general public like  All Services Home Healthcare and a General Parts store. Being downtown and near the Salvation Army and The City Union Mission, there were quite a few of homeless people. Little to no housing was in sight, The total population of the assigned area in the U.S. Census tract 154 of Jackson County was 5,847 out of a total population of 459,787 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).



Area Between 72nd Terrace and 75th

I was given the area on Troost between 72nd terrace and 75th street to study. Looking into this area was very interesting and I learned a lot. The thing that I found most surprising while doing my research was just how much the area had been developed in a short amount of time. I included a picture of three figure-ground diagrams to show just how much the area has changed over the course of around ninety years. The figure-ground diagrams only show buildings directly on Troost. The figure-ground diagram on the far left is based on the earliest map I could find of my area. This map came from a 1925 Atlas of Kansas City and as the figure-ground diagram shows, there was only one building on my area of Troost during 1925. The figure-ground diagram in the middle is based on a 1950 Sanborn fire insurance map. This map shows that there was a lot of development on the east side of Troost in 25 years and that Kansas City was expanding. The final figure-ground diagram on the right represents my area currently and is based off observations I made and google maps. This final figure-ground diagram shows that there has been a good amount of development on both sides of Troost. Another interesting thing I found is that some of the buildings still stand from 1950. One of which is “The Firehouse Southside Activity Center” which is currently closed, but the 1950 Sanborn map has the building marked on it as a firehouse. A current picture of the firehouse is also included.

61st and Meyer Blvd

The area I was assigned was 61st and Meyer blvd. The earliest map I could find for it was the 1925 atlas, therefore I drew that nothing was there before, it was more than likely just an empty lot. The street was very narrow and it’s one of the main traits that characterized the area because it made it easily navigable. The biggest alteration was that the number of buildings in the area more than tripled throughout the time