Monday, March 17, 2014

A trip to Kansas City, Missouri-Day 1

This trip took us to Kansas City, MO to see a couple of friends and also to see my Mother's birthplace.  We left Orange County, CA on March 15, 2014 and flew to Phoenix and then to Kansas City, MO.  Picked up our rental car and then headed for our hotel.  I love staying at Marriott Residence Inn's as it gives the girls and I a chance to spread out.  It feels like we are staying in an apartment.  By the time we got to the hotel, we were all hungry for dinner.  We decided on California Pizza Kitchen, which was close by.  The area we are staying in, is known as Country Club Plaza.  On the way to get dinner, we saw lightning.  Got back to the hotel just in time.  It started pouring and we had a good old fashion Mid-West thunderstorm.  It did blow by and we were able to get some sleep, even though we were a little off time zone.  This morning we woke up to a dusting of snow.

The Country Club Plaza is an American upscale shopping district and  residential neighborhood.  It was the first shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile.  The 55-acre site is about four miles south of downtown.  The Plaza was established in 1922 by J.C. Nichols and designed architecturally after Seville, Spain.  The Plaza is comprised of high-end retail establishments, restaurants and entertainment venues, as well as offices.  The neighborhoods surrounding the Plaza consist of apartment buildings and upscale houses.

The Plaza was named for the associated Country Club District, which J.C. Nichols developed and surrounded the Kansas City Country Club, which is now known as Loose Park.  Mr. Nichols selected the location carefully to provide residents with a direct route to the Plaza along Ward Parkway.

Mr. Nichols began acquiring the land for the Plaza in 1907, in an area of Kansas City that was then known as Brush Creek Valley.  When his plans  were first announced, the project was called "Nicholds Folly" because of the supposedly undesirable location.  At the time, the only developed land in the valley belonged to the Country Day School, which is now Pembroke Hill School, and the rest was known for pig farming.  Mr. Nichols employed architect Edward Buehler Delk to design the new shopping center.  The Plaza opened in 1923 to immediate success, and it has lasted with little interruption since that year.  It has been noted that The Plaza has had the longest life of any planned shopping center in the history of the world.  One of the oldest stores on the plaza is the Jack Henry Clothing company, which was founded in 1931.  On September 12, 1977, a major flood of Brush Creek caused severe damage to the Plaza and resulted in a number of deaths.  The flood prompted a vast renovation and revitalization of the area that has allowed it to survive and prosper.

Mari and I took a walk around the Plaza this morning and took some pictures:

The Plaza

The Plaza

The Plaza

The Plaza


Union Station

Union Station

Kansas City Union Station opened in 1914 and saved as a replacement for the original Union Depot which opened in 1878.  Union Station served a peak annual passenger traffic of over 670,000 in 1945 at the end of World War II, then spent the next four decades in gradual decline until its closure in 1985.

In 1996, a public/private partnership began funding Union Station's $250 million restoration.  The station reopened in 1999 as a series of museums and other public attractions.  In 2002, Union Station saw its return as a train station when Amtrak began providing public transportation services and since become Missouri's second busiest train station.  As of 2010, the refurbished station boasts theaters, ongoing museum exhibits, and various attractions.

On April 8, 1878, Union Depot opened on a narrow triangle of land in Kansas City between Union Avenue and the railroad tracks of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad in present-day West Bottoms.  Union Depot was nicknamed the "Jackson County Insane Asylum" by those who thought it was too large.  It was the second union station in the country, after the one in Indianapolis.  The new depot was a hybrid of Second Empire style and Gothic Revival.  The lead architect was Asa Beebe Cross who "adorned the exterior of the building with intricate towers of varying heights, arched windows framed in stone and rows of dormers projecting from the steeply pitched mansard roof.  The depot had a clock tower above the main entrance that was 125 feet in height.  By the start of the 20th century, over 180 trains were passing daily through the station, serving a city whose population had tripled during its first quarter century of operation.  In 1903, the lack of room for expansion and a major flood led the city and the railroads to decide a new station was required.

The decision to build a new station was spearheaded by the Kansas City Terminal Railway, a switching and terminal railroad that was a joint operation of a number of railroad lines.  The new location was chosen to be a valley at 25th Street and Grand Avenue used by the Kansas City Belt Railway.  This location was south of the central business district, which was above and away from the floodplain.

The architect chosen to design the Union Station building was Jarvis Hunt, a proponent of the City Beautiful movement.  The design was a main hall for ticketing, and a perpendicular hall extending out over the tracks for passenger waiting.  The Beaux-Arts station opened on October 30, 1914, as the second largest train station in the country.  The building encompassed 850,000 square feet, the ceiling in the Grand Hall is 95 feet high, there are three chandeliers weighing 3,500 pounds each and the Grand Hall clock has a six-foot diameter face.  Due to its central location, Kansas City was a hub for both passenger and freight rail traffic.

Union Station made headlines on June 17, 1933, as four unarmed  FBI agents were gunned down by gang members attempting to free captured Frank Nash.  Nash was also killed in the gun battle.  The "Kansas City Massacre" highlighted the lawlessness of Kansas City under the Pendergast Machine and resulted in the arming of all FBI agents.

As train travel declined beginning in the 1950's, the city had less  and less need for a large train station. By 1973, only 32,842 passengers passed through the facility, all passenger train service was run by Amtrak, and the building was beginning to deteriorate.  The city government of Kansas City wasted to preserve and redevelop the building.  The city government made a development deal with Trizec Corporation, who was a Canadian redevelopment firm.  Between 1979 and 1986, Trizec constructed two office buildings on surrounding property, but did not redevelop the station.  In 1985, Amtrak moved all passenger operations to a smaller facility and essentially closed the station.  In 1988, the city filed suit against Trizec for the failure to develop the station.  The case was settled in 1994.

In 1996, residents in five counties throughout the metropolitan area in both Kansas and Missouri approved the so-called "bi-state tax," which was a 1/8 of a cent sales tax, part of which helped to fund just under half of the the $250 million restoration of Union Station.  Renovation began in 1997 and was completed in 1999.  The remaining money was raised through private donation and federal funding.

Today, Union Station receives no public funding.  Current operating costs are funded by general admission and theater ticketing, grants, corporate and private donations, commercial space leases and facility rental.  Union Station is home to Science City, the H&R Block City StageTheater,  the Reginer Extreme Screen, which is the largest 3-D movie screen in the region at five and a half stories tall.  There are two restaurants, including Pierponts, and the Harvey's at Union Station.  The shops at Union Station include Rocky Mountain Chocolate, The Science City Store, The Kansas City Store and Parisi Coffee. The Gottlieb Planetarium is at Union Station and is the largest planetarium in the area.  There are various temporary museum exhibits at Union Station, as well as The Irish Museum and Cultural Center that has been located in the station since March 17, 2007.

In 2002, Amtrak restored passenger train service to the station.  There are currently two trains daily to and from St. Lousi, one train daily to Chicago and one train daily to the southwest.  Of the twelve Missouri stations served by Amtrak, Kansas City was the second busiest in its 2013 fiscal year as an average 450 passengers were boarding or disembarking a day during the year.

Union Station

Union Station

Union Station

Union Station

Union Station

Union Station

Union Station

Coffee at Union Station

Union Station

Union Station

and the National World War I Museum.

Not long after World War I ended, Kansas City leaders formed the Liberty Memorial Association (LMA) to create a lasting monument  to the men and women who had served in World War I.  In 1919, the LMA and citizens of Kansas City raised more than $2.5 million in just 10 days, which is the equivalent of roughly $34 million today.  This accomplishment reflected the passion of public sentiment for the Great War that had dramatically changed the world.

In 1921, more than 100,000 people gathered to see the supreme Allied commanders dedicate the site of the site of the Liberty Memorial.  This was the first time in history these five leaders were together in one place.

Construction on the classical Egyptian Revival-style monument was completed in 1926 and the Liberty Memorial was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge in front of more than 150,000 people.  Over time the physical structure of the Liberty Memorial deteriorated and it was closed in 1994 due to safety concerns.  The citizens of Kansas City voiced their support for the Liberty Memorial and in 1998, they passed a limited-run sales tax to support the restoration.  In addition to revitalizing the Memorial, plans took shape to expand the site by building a museum to better showcase the WWI-related objects and documents the LMA had been collecting since 1920.  $102 million was raided for the restoration and expansion by the City of Kansas City, the State of Missouri, the United States Government and generous individual donors.

In 2004, the Museum was designated by Congress as the nation's official World War I Museum, and construction started on a new 80,000-square foot, state of the art museum and research center underneath the Liberty Memorial.  The Museum opened in 2006 to national acclaim.  Since 2006, more than one million people have visited the museum, including Frank Buckles, America's last surviving WWI veteran.  Mr. Buckles visited the Museum over the Memorial Day weekend in 2008.

National World War I Museum

National World War I Museum

That concludes day one of our trip to Kansas City, MO.  I totally enjoyed seeing Union Station with the beautiful architecture.

Friday, March 7, 2014

What do you know about Fallbrook, CA. (A series about cities and towns in San Diego County)

  Fallbrook is an unincorporated community in northern San Diego County, CA.  The town is located 6 miles west of Interstate 15 or 5 miles north of State Route 76 and is immediately east of the U.S. Marine Corps' Camp Pendleton.  The Santa Margarita River crosses through the rugged terrain in the northern portion of the planning area and the San Luis Rey River runs along the southern boundary that Fallbrook shares with Bonsai.  The eastern portion is dominated by steep slopes and Interstate 15.  At one time there was a stagecoach stop for the stage that ran from Temecula to San Diego.

Fallbrook is known for its avocado groves and claims the title "Avocado Capital of the World."  The Avocado Festival is held in the downtown strip annually in the spring and frequently draws large crowds.

The community of Fallbrook began in the area known today as Live Oak County Park.  The first permanent recorded settlement was in 1869, when the Vital Reche family settled here.  The Vital Reche family was from Pennsylvania and they named the new community Fal Brook after their former homestead.

The present town site was plotted in 1885.  The original Fallbrook School,, which closed in 1939, still serves the community as the Reche Clubhouse.  One of the community's churches was constructed in 1890 and is still in use today.

Oak trees were the original primary trees in Fallbrook.  Olives became a major crop by the 1920's and continued through World War II, but were eventually phased out for the avocado and floral industry.

These are the pictures that I took on my walk the day I was there:

Orange Rose



Historic 395


Historic Downtown

Store in Fallbrook

Wall Art