Visitor’s Guide to 5 Historic KC Neighborhoods
We’ve all done it before – you get up in the morning, do the things that are part of your daily routine, and when you get to wherever you need to go, you think: ”How did I get here?” – ”Was I on autopilot this whole time?”. Perhaps you didn’t notice the sweet birds in so-and-so’s front yard, the flowers that just popped up by where you usually park, how one of your fellow apartment building inhabitants started smiling at you in the elevator. When you live in a city, it’s easy to get accustomed to a routine, and the things that would stand out to a visitor wouldn’t necessarily always stand out to you – our brains are designed to detach information it doesn’t deem absolutely necessary to keep. As a real estate agent, it’s extremely important for me to be continuously inspired by the Kansas City area neighborhoods and homes. Sometimes we need a little inspiration – inspiration typically comes from a sense of interest and excitement, and excitement can translate to the desire to be a part of something.
I’m originally from the Netherlands, and lived in Amsterdam for many years. Amsterdam is a fun city, but just like I mentioned, you get used to the canals, tulips, tourists, and obsessive behavior around cheese (ha!). Having lived different places with an ”outsider looking in” perspective, I’ve developed a habit of continuously wanting to learn about where I live, and what the reasoning was behind starting a community or neighborhood. What the people’s stories were, no matter how insignificant they may seem to them, I can’t help but be fully intrigued by their lives’ stories because they sound like movie-worthy stories to me. You discover things you would’ve never known, and you realize you become a link in a chain that will pass on information to future generations. Stories are stories, but they were always sourced from somewhere, right? If you’re into history, mysteries, conspiracy theories – things of that nature, you’ll enjoy wandering through the neighborhoods that tell these stories just by their very existence.
When you feel you want to explore some new areas and spark up your inspiration in the Kansas City area, whether you live here or as a visitor, I think you’ll very likely to enjoy these beautiful buildings! So, whether you are actually a tourist, or a KC area inhabitant that wants to go in to tourist mode, I think these places are worth checking out.
1. Janssen Place
Greeted by the Eagle Scout Memorial, with historic homes over a 100 years old, you’ll definitely be intrigued by the intricate design features of these carefully thought-out and detailed homes. Each home is separately unique, and has characteristics completely different from the other. Beautiful, large, orb streetlights line the streets, and give for a beautiful view during sunset. It’s part of the westport district, and was intended for ”upper class occupancy”. It was largely inspired by Portland and Westmoreland in St Louis.
2. The Library District
The distinctive features of the library district are not to be missed. Brass and copper statues scattered all around the area, created by renowned sculptors of the early 1900’s. The beautiful, large, 5-story library is sure to inspire you, with a larger variety of books than most offer. Upon entry, you are greeted by heavy, large stair steps leading to a beautiful archway with intricate woodwork design. Then, the light of a beautifully designed art-deco chandelier will shine above you as you walk through the first floor, where they have different events available to the public for free – check out the different events they offer on their website (https://www.kclibrary.org/library-locations/central-library). The New York Life Building, and Old New England Building are among my favorites.
How could I not mention Waldo? The kind people of Waldo and proximity to everything is truly a benefit for Waldonians alike – but it also makes for a fun outing for non-Waldonians. From different restaurants, famous Betty Rae’s, a hair dresser, coffee shops, art galleries, pet stores, lamp stores, and more – you’ll definitely stay entertained, happy, and full in Waldo. Named after a Virginian pioneer, David Waldo, the neighborhood is full of historic buildings that were built in the early 1900’s. I heard someone say once, ”it feels like Williamsburg in 2001”. Also, Windmill Real Estate is making a documentary about this community – check it out in early July!
Westport has a similar vibe to Waldo. Different little shops and small business scattered throughout – however, Westport has more of a mini-mall lay-out compared to Waldo. A fun doughnut shop called Donutology is among favorites, as well as Newman’s Own, various vintage shops, and other small businesses. Westport prides itself as being the ”original Kansas City”. It was later annexed by Kansas City along with many other communities. Be sure to check out the Westport community event website here: https://westportkcmo.com/events/.
5. Pendleton Heights
Featured as being one of the ”best old house neighborhoods in the US”, Pendleton Heights never ceases to amaze visitors and Kansas Citians alike. Overlooking the Missouri River and Eastbottoms below, lies Tiffany Castle, whose owner was amazed by the beautiful castles in Europe and replicated one in Kansas City. Be sure to check out the Philip E. Chappell house at 1836 Pendleton Avenue – a beautifully designed home with winding woodwork, and carefully hand painted details in different shapes.
Do not be fooled by my post! Kansas City (as well as the surrounding area) is full of (way more) inspiring historic areas. These are just a few that I thought would be fun to start with if you’re into this kind of thing! Even if you aren’t – understanding where you live helps understanding yourself better. Gratitude, happiness, and excitement for the place you live is a huge part of feeling fulfilled and at peace. And for visitors, be sure to check these spots out, and don’t forget to explore all the other beautiful areas the KC area has to offer.