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Lake Hiwassee contained two islands with shelters built on them and were connected to each other and to surrounding land by rustic bridges. Lake Hiwassee was formed at the confluence of two branches of Brush Creek, normally a lazy picturesque, spring fed stream. After heavy rains, however, the creek rose from its banks and carried all manner of silt, mud and debris into the beautiful lake. Afterward, crews would dutifully clean the mess and return the lake to its bucolic state. As development continued, however, more runoff and silt filled the lake. By , Nichols had had enough. Between the silt issues from runoff and the continued vandalism of people chopping up the rustic bridges for firewood, company officials decided to quit throwing good money after bad and filled in the lake, returning the site to the confluence of two streams instead of a water attraction.

No evidence of the lake exists today. William Worley. Michael Bushnell Northeast News Continuing our virtual road trip of historic Route 66, we leave Joplin behind and make the […]. Michael Bushnell Northeast News From the auspices of downtown Chicago and the Route 66 beginning or end point depending on […].

Michael Bushnell Northeast News Located at 22nd and Brooklyn, Municipal Stadium was the home to many professional sports teams long […]. Michael Bushnell Northeast News This Kodachrome postcard published in the late s shows the numerous apartment buildings built on the […].

Country Club District - Wikipedia

There will be nothing […]. Crossing into Oklahoma! July 3rd, by admin. Joplin, our last stop in Missouri! June 26th, by admin.


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Apartment buildings consisting of upwards of forty units were typically associated with life in the central city rather than the urban periphery Douglass , 72 , but large apartment buildings were becoming a common feature of suburban landscapes, where fami- lies, working women, young professionals, and the elderly were turn- ing apartment life into a mainstream, middle-class dwelling practice Allen , ; Lasner , 57; Outlying Apartment Hotel , A ordinance be- gan requiring fireproof construction for multi-unit buildings over two stories Apartments, 46 , and developers began opting for bigger build- ings Ehrlich , Luckily, recent advancements in elevator technology had made high-rise construction more affordable, with the introduction of automatic-control elevators opening up a new frontier for modestly priced buildings McKenzie , ; Plunz , Still, building proposals had to be doubly competitive to win over in- vestors, and as such target stable tenancies.

In a time when incomes and spatial standards were rising, higher-end buildings for more affluent renters seemed the surest route to financial stability, and the Plaza area would doubtless be a prime locale for this demographic. And while competition for capital investment among builders was more intense, banks, bond houses, and insurance companies the primary lenders for big building projects were engaging in unprecedented levels of urban real estate speculation in the later years of the decade Goldberg , The large, modern buildings that resulted from these conditions nonetheless catered towards a suburban demographic interested in tempering the present with the past.

To capture the middle-to-upper- middle-class demographic that demanded optimal levels of comfort and convenience, architects would have to adopt the same blend of old and new that characterized the Plaza and its nearby homes J. Nichols, Book 6, ; Rose , The Melbourne, Park Castles, and Whitehall are indicated but not discussed in this paper. Map by the author.

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The rising cost of home construction and financially difficult terms of mortgages kept many otherwise middle class individuals and families from buying, even as their wages rose significantly Lasner , ; Wright , At the same time, these newly prosper- ous middle classes yearned to imitate the tastes of the upper-middle classes and wealthy in a culture that constantly stressed elements of status, self-presentation, and self-image Drowne and Huber , And for those who were simply uninterested in the stipulations of home ownership and maintenance, these expanded rental options offered increased mo- bility, a more immediately engaging set of surroundings, and more manageable spaces.

Ads appeared not only in the Kansas City Star, but also in publications like The Independent and The Blue Book, which targeted and spoke to the interests of the elite set. Around the same time, the J. Nichols Company, with its sights still set on using apartment development as a financial buttress, opened an apart- ment leasing office in the Plaza shops to help prospective tenants locate appropriate housing in the area Apartment Homes , 5D.

As one might expect, the appeal of this suburban landscape did not rest solely on benign concerns. Prejudicial impulses were a key element of metropolitan life in the s, and increased anxieties about the vice of the central city and its symbols of unsettling social upheaval in flappers, speakeasies, and nightclubs made suburbs a seemingly safe haven, particularly for the well-being of children Wright , Even more significant was the nefarious association between the urban core and African-Americans, a group whose population swelled in the s in Kansas City due to the Great Migration.

In an era when many whites unfairly connected African-Americans with crime, vice, and disinvestment, peripheral suburbs and the Country Club District in particular became increasingly attractive to white homeowners and renters due to their formalized discrimination measures Schirmer , This heightened degree of racialization reflected one of the more pernicious dimensions of the new suburban paradox: even as the new suburbs demonstrated a diversification of its built environment and the needs it accommodated, it also reinforced boundaries for other groups more rigidly than ever.

Figure 4 The line of connection to the Plaza environment went beyond ar- chitectural flair. Feeding in and out of the broad stretch of Mill Creek Parkway, the drive seemed less a cloistered unloading zone than an extension of an open thoroughfare where a sense of free movement prevailed. The Park Lane had no designated garage for tenants, but there was no need. The immense Plaza Garage in the obligatory Spanish style was only a block away. If residents walked out the front door of the Park Lane and veered right, they would step into a landscape that catered towards a new set of spatial aesthetics and conveniences.

Passing the White Eagle Gas Station, with its red-tiled roof, landscaping, and mowed grass, they would move into a retail world graced with long awnings, wide walkways, sidewalk plantings, and a uniform roofline. In contrast to downtown, this was an environment defined by openness, coherence, calm, and ample sunlight and airflow commonly touted elements of suburban respite.

Advertising for the Park Lane foregrounded the suburban location and flavor as a primary amenity. However, the buildings turreted apex boasted a whimsical feature that made up for its comparative lack of ground-level grandeur: an expansive rooftop bungalow, complete with a broad terrace overlooking the verdant surroundings Jaqelin , 5D. Rooftop terraces had become a key feature of apartment hotels in many places, and particularly in the urban core, where they created a sense of aloof calm high above the street. Yet here was one attached to a full-sized home, already in the suburbs, that gave its lucky residents a sense of domestic calm and spaciousness above an uncommonly calm landscape.

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The Sophian Plaza contained forty units of grand proportions and offered services characteristic of the finest apartment hotels in the city, yet was proudly advertised as being unhinged from any transit links to the urban core. A hidden, two-story parking garage of 6, square feet catered toward suburban motorists. The ground-floor layout by local firm Shepard and Wiser bore the hallmarks of suburban interiors; a graceful front courtyard led to an opulent lobby, which in turn opened up onto an immense back colonnade a lineup that emphasized a sense of openness and an optimization of airflow and sunlight.

An Italianate Row As the s progressed, increased levels of speculative building and free-flowing capital would translate into far more ambitious building projects for the Plaza area. Italianate towers along Ward Parkway, the leafy boulevard running along a small waterway called Brush Creek on the southern perimeter of the Plaza. Nichols, Book 10, Construction began in December with the Villa Serena, whose Renaissance revival plan by architect Alonzo Gentry established a precedent for the subsequent buildings J.

Subsequent construction was swift. The neighboring Locarno echoed the Italian style but amplified its dimensions and sense of architectural articulation. With these two buildings, it became clear that the McCanles buildings would boast amenities characteristic of grand palace hotels. Expansive dining rooms, rooftop terraces with expansive views, and sumptuously decorated lobbies all exuded a sense of luxury and exclusivity. Mc- Canles did not supply dedicated parking facilities for his tenants, but street parking and the Plaza Garage gave apartment residents ample space. In the spring and summer of , ads in The Independent and Kansas City Star pitched the Villa Serena, Casa Loma, and Locarno as ideal apart- ment quarters for those of discriminating taste interested in a prime location with an atmosphere of refinement.


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  • Verbiage gushed about building and its modern features all-electric appliances, double- and triple-exposure units, and so forth with several offering photographs of the spacious and sumptuous lobby interiors. Coffered wood ceilings, cumbersome revivalist furniture, chandeliers, and carving and orna- ment along walls and doorways bespoke a sense of design sophistica- tion in Old World style.

    Of the six McCanles buildings, the unit Riviera opened to the loudest fanfare. And while the building might have been the largest and most advanced in the city, its real amenity was its location. Brochures offered inset maps and pho- tographs of the suburban parks, boulevards, and formally decorated gathering areas in nearby neighborhoods.

    As with the Park Lane and Sophian Plaza, the main selling point for these buildings was the prox- imity to a non-apartment landscape of suburban isolation J. By the time these buildings began to loom over the banks of Brush Creek in the late years of the decade, they stood opposite a retail district that had become a modernized competitor to downtown.

    A similar mix of new and old was apparent in the Plaza Theater, which opened to acclaim in And like many movie houses of the day, the Plaza Theater clothed the new technology of film in a traditional style; in keeping with the overall program, the exterior and interior bore the aesthetic flavorings of colonial Spain, complete with imported furnish- ings J. Nichols, Book 9, With their compact ef- ficiency units, these buildings were clearly intended for either singles, newlyweds, the elderly, or small families whose finances would allow them to rent high-style spaces of compact footprints in this growing area of Kansas City.

    The Tudor revival David Copperfield building, for instance, featured a quietly playful exterior characterized by parquet brick patterns and irregular quoins of native, uncut stone. Seven buildings each of seven stories, and two of eight, offered a variety of efficiency units ranging from compact studios to larger one- and even two-bedroom units.

    Even in the larger buildings, Peters managed to maintain a sense of domestic quietude that was in harmony with the neighboring areas of single-family homes. Her twin, five-story Cezanne and Rousseau towers framed an interior courtyard that gave residents a sense of peaceful intimacy. Playful aesthetic details on the red-brick buildings enhanced the environment; colorful geometric and floral ornamentations in terra-cotta graced the entrances and roofline, and ornamental brickwork added textural interest in the spandrels.

    Across Forty-Eighth Street, Peters replayed the spatial arrangement, albeit in more formal architectural terms, in the classically ornamented Henry Longfellow and Robert Louis Stevenson buildings. Other buildings featured an amplified sense of style in conjunc- tion with larger dimensions. Both included some thirty-five well-designed efficiency units with sun porches, and the Mark Twain even featured a ground-flood solarium offering a space for light and relaxation. Generous yet controlled terra-cotta quoining, parapets, and span- drel ornaments filled out a Jacobean revival theme, and a symmetric ar- rangement along a grand circle drive gave the pair a sense of grandeur and formality.

    These two structures also faced the upscale homes of the Sunset Hill development across the verdant expanse of Ward Parkway, a position that gave them a more direct sense of landscape connection with the elite residential area, despite housing a different class of people under a different housing tenure. Exclusive dining facilities, parking garages, and seating areas were lacking, but lobby interiors were nevertheless of a high stand- ard of design, with marble floors and walls, wrought iron banisters, and polished brass fixtures.

    These advertisements also named singles as prospective tenants in addition to families, reflecting the broadening market of Plaza accommodations. Where the other Plaza apartments invoked their proximity to the seclusion of the suburban world, the Walnuts embodied that seclusion. The Park Lane, Sophian Plaza, and Brush Creek apartments might have had park-fronted views, but the Walnuts had a bona fide private front lawn, an undulating sweep of several acres leading to low-slung native stone fences.

    Gracious apartments offered the space and options of personalization available in private estates. With a maximum of two units per floor, owners could opt to combine units both horizontally and vertically, effectively recreating the manor- like suburban estates from which many of them were moving. The builder C. Jones also indicated that his buildings offered more than a dressed-up version of the other Plaza buildings.

    J.C. Nichols and the Shaping of Kansas City: Innovation in Planned Residential Communities

    The appeal of these towers might seem to be their suburban setting, but promotional material implies that these towers were in fact built to accommodate a lifestyle that found the less concentrated, open-lot home experience more trouble than it was worth. Just as The Walnuts emphasized privacy over proximity, they also offered a visage of almost overwhelming traditionalism. Elements of style and status upstaged modern features. In line with pursuing a greater air of exclusivity, The Walnuts broke with the architectural program of the Mediterranean Plaza and instead bore a fully articulated Jacobean style that was, as the brochure suggested, in harmony with the wooded setting.

    At the same time, details reinforced a sense of individuality rather than grand coherence. The three towers each of which features an angled geometry in its floor plan sat in a rough row, with irregular styling on the exteriors. Turrets protruded at certain points, and windows were not rigidly organized.

    J.C. Nichols and the Shaping of Kansas City: Innovation in Planned Residential Communities

    Figure With this announcement, it was clear that multi-unit space in the proximity of the Plaza had become not only the territory of middle-to-upper-middle class renters, but the richest members of the elite. And while these struc- tures were built largely on speculation, Nichols, Phillips, McCanles, and Jones had been right in assuming that a substantial cohort of prospec- tive renters and buyers in the case of The Walnuts was interested in multi-unit suburban living.

    Photographs and city directories indicate that these buildings boasted healthy tenancies, and the area quickly became a residential and commercial hub for the southern portion of the city a status that, along with prudent business practices, helped the area navigate the economic turbulence the Depression Worley , As one entity thrived, so did the other, and vice versa. Thus while residents of the towers embraced the suburban as- pects of their buildings, many nearby residents likely welcomed this new evidence of sophistication in their built environment.

    And while a quasi-coordinated collection of apartment buildings might have struck some as unusual in such close proximity to a low-density, residential landscape, the development was in line with one of the key features of suburban development of the s: the use of architectural and spatial diversification to buttress the longevity of the new landscape, even if it entailed a controlled densification of residency. Yet apartments stood as spatially significant elements of the landscape, with their architectural presence significantly altering the feel of the environment in the newly dense commercial areas.

    Their commanding poise made up for their compara- tively modest numbers of residents, and also gave those residents a new sense of metropolitan identity one of suburban, high-rise apartment dwellers inhabiting a domain that managed to feel urbane while being physically removed from the city. These buildings offered a new set of spaces in which tenants could negotiate the para- doxes of the metropolitan condition. The buildings also allowed an expanding tenancy to experience per- haps more than any urban locale had ever done a new sense of environ- mental cohesion.

    Whether clustered on the west side of the Plaza, lined up along Brush Creek, or marooned in a wooded glade, these buildings managed to seem unified despite clear differences in style. After all, theirs was a curious sort of unity one based not on stylistic imitation, but rather on a common design ethos and use of materials. Jacobean, Art Deco, Spanish, and Italianate flourishes pulled these buildings in different directions, but their earth-toned brick, cream-hued terra-cotta, red tiles, and a common proportion of aesthetic filigree pulled them back together again.

    Perhaps this cohesive ambiguity was simply an- other workable tension another permutation of the pervasive sense of irony that permeated these buildings inside and out. In any case, it qualified them as crucibles of modernity, in the most fundamental sense of the term. Kansas City Star, 1. Mounted Clippings File. Missouri Valley Special Collections.

    Kansas City Missouri Public Library. Kansas City Star, 3. Kansas City Public Library.