One thing struck me more than anything else during this project.
In 1950, the US census recorded one person in all of tract 52 was neither white or black. One single person was different from anyone else in the area. 99.25% of his or her neighbors were white, another 0.73% of people were black, and there is one Other. What this project has taught me that these aren’t just numbers on a website or maps in a library, they’re people and places, these blocks have stories. So much of Urban Planning seems to be about the big picture, but it’s important to be reminded of the importance of one: one block in one year to one person whose name I’ll never know.
My section of Linwood was incredibly interesting to me, as my own families history was woven into the story of the street. When I first went down to the street I was disheartened by the state of the street, all overgrown with three abandoned lots; but knowing what I know now about the what the street used to hold, it’s even more disappointing. My section of Linwood used to hold the first Reform Jewish Synagogue on the street, along with the first Jewish Community Center in the city. Linwood and the surrounding streets held Kansas Cities Jewish Community during the interwar years and up until the 1960’s. My grandfather fondly recalls the many hours he spent at the old Jewish Community Center, and the Synagogue right around the corner is where he met my grandmother for the first time. This street is part of my own personal history, and I had never been there until this project took me to it!