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Thread: Impressions of 'da hood: KCK, Historic Northeast KCMO

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Impressions of 'da hood: KCK, Historic Northeast KCMO

    I spent a few hours on Saturday afternoon driving around Kansas City, Kansas ... Kansas City, Missouri's little underachieving brother. Here's some of my impressions:

    * KCK has a fascinating landscape - lots of hills, valleys, outcroppings, and so on. Unfortunately, if you have a house perched on the top of one of these hills, you'll likely be looking down on some factories.

    * It seems like there's a disproportionately large amount of very small hosues built before WWII. There are very few older middle class areas; although there's some larger homes scattered among the clusters of tiny older houses, there's really no old middle class neighborhoods. The only area I saw that could have been middle or upper middle class at one time was west of downtown, and along Quindaro. KC might have been "prosperous" at one time, but it was never "middle class," or even middle-class blue-collar. If the demographics of old KCK were closer to that of KCMO, the place might not be in such a rut.

    * Strawberry Hill - it's a tiny enclave east of downtown, not really "ethnic" in the sense that there's a lot of restaurants or social clubs. Kinda' sad, actually.

    * In some areas west of downtown, there were signs of European ethnic holdouts; a bar flying a Polish flag here, a little old lady with a babushka walking down a street there. The scenes reminded me of some areas on Buffalo's East Side, where the population might be 80% minority, the last long-time residents too stubborn, too old or too poor to move.

    * Unlike KCMO, KCK actually has retail downtown. Unfortunately, most of it consists of thrift stores, fast food restaurants, furniture rental stores, payday loan businesses, Mexican dry goods stores, places like "Jesus Christ Loves You Bookstore," and so on. There was more pedestrian traffic than what I've seen inside the KCMO loop, but it seemed as if at least half of the folks walking around were in a drug-filled haze. It reminded me of downtown Niagara Falls, New York, outside the touristy areas.

    * KCK is much dirtier than KCMO. There's less sign and billboard clutter, but quite a bit of litter and debris laying around.

    * KCK has alleys! This results in fewer curb cuts along residential streets, but it also means that those tiny houses are packed in tight, with no driveways separating them. Density in and of itself isn't bad -- look at the KCMO Plaza area -- but densely populated lower income neighborhoods in the US tend to be troubled places.

    Another place in the metro that gives me the same vibes as KCK is what I've heard called the "Historic Northeast," by the KC Museum and Gladstone Boulevard. The area has some huge, architecturally significant homes on well-maintained lots and a good share of larger Brookside-type houses, but for the most part it's dominated by tiny 2/1 bungalows. Rapid demographic change, with the affordability of the small bungalows being a major contributing factor, seemed to lead to the decline of the neighborhood.

    Still, areas closer to Gladstone seem to be holding their own. Even some of the older brick apartment buildings are in decent shape. When did Historic Northeast fade from glory? Is there any gentrification, or are the huge houses mostly owned by bargain-loving middle-class residents who fully understand they're trading the perception of a desirable location, conveneince to urban amenities such as neighborhood restaurants and bars, and equity for gobs of old-school square footage in 'da hood? Why there, and not on a block or two east of Troost 'round Plaza ways?

    Again, I'm reminded of a neighborhood in Buffalo, Kensington ... mostly smallish (~1,200-1,500'^2) bungalows on ~3,000 '^2 lots at the core, with very large homes at the far eastern edge. Kensington experienced gradual socioeconomic change through the 1980s and 1990s, and is now about 70% middle and lower middle income minority, with elderly and lower-middle-class white holdouts. In the more affluent fringe, it's been holding at about 70% white, 30% minority. Despite a population with decent disposable income, the business districts now cater mainly to a low income minority population (check cashing, beeper/pager stores, hip hop clothing stores, fast food, etc), with a few old school businesses remaining. Unfortunately, in Buffalo the rule of thumb among the business community is black=poor, so even middle income, predominantly minority neighborhoods will have mostly lowest-common-denominator commercial businesses.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Welcome to my Hood.

    1. If you made it to 5th and Quindaro and are still alive you are a lucky man my friend. I wouldn't tempt fate twice and not in a pretty VW like yours.
    2. Try Mickey's Surplus in Argentine for all your Mil Surplus/Camping/Sporting good needs. The Mexican place across the street has good chow.
    3. Strawberry Hill can be decieving. You have to know some locals to get the good chow. Look for Kovacck's Bakery.
    4. Here is the only guide you need to KC.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan

    Still, areas closer to Gladstone seem to be holding their own. Even some of the older brick apartment buildings are in decent shape. When did Historic Northeast fade from glory? Is there any gentrification, or are the huge houses mostly owned by bargain-loving middle-class residents who fully understand they're trading the perception of a desirable location, conveneince to urban amenities such as neighborhood restaurants and bars, and equity for gobs of old-school square footage in 'da hood? Why there, and not on a block or two east of Troost 'round Plaza ways?
    Becaues the area in the northeast is mostly hispanic. Hispanic and White people tolerate each other. The area "a block or two east of Troost is black. White people and black people have no tolerance for living near one another. Generally speaking. Just the way the world is.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    Density in and of itself isn't bad -- look at the KCMO Plaza area -- but densely populated lower income neighborhoods in the US tend to be troubled places.
    I'd steer clear of implying that the poor and working class are somehow better suited for low density living, or worse that only the well-off can "handle" it. Sparsely populated lower income neighborhoods have a lot of the same "troubles," but just do a better job of hiding them. Crimes go unreported; domestic violence will arouse suspicion in neighborhoods where you can touch from one house to the next, but on the farm or in the holler you can strangle your wife and no one will be the wiser. Drug addiction in rural Appalachia is through the roof.

    Quote Originally posted by justin8016
    White people and black people have no tolerance for living near one another. Generally speaking. Just the way the world is.
    No, that's not just the way the world is. That's the way Americans are because of our unique legacy of slavery, segregation, residential redlining, and racism. Other countries have co-opted our prejudices but it is in no way a natural occurance or one that will never change.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    You, know, I've been down to Troost and beyond on several occasions. people in Johnson County make it out to eb teh South Bronx but it ain't that bad.

    The 'mexican' bit in KCK /NW KCMO (if I recall correctly) has some pretty good food. One GREAT place in the industrial area was (IS?) the 'Town Topic' diner.

    if any of you KC guys can take a picture of it and post it, I would be mighty grateful.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  6. #6
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by justin8016
    White people and black people have no tolerance for living near one another. Generally speaking. Just the way the world is.
    Actually, survey after survey have proven that the majority of black people prefer integrated neighborhoods (40-60% split between white and black), while the majority of white people prefer almost entirely white neighborhoods.

    Your quote should have read:
    "White people have no tolerance for living near black people."

    Luca: I edited my post to better quantify and qualify survey results.
    Last edited by jmello; 08 Feb 2006 at 3:24 PM.

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    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Surely not ALL whites have such strong 'preferences'?
    Life and death of great pattern languages

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    Cyburbian
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    Im white and love my integrated California suburban neighborhood. Most of California is pretty segregated, but my block is extremly diverse. It's the only thing that would prevent me form moving to a city. I really dont care much for burbs' but it's hard to beat my culd-de-sac.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by mokbubble
    Im white and love my integrated California suburban neighborhood. Most of California is pretty segregated, but my block is extremly diverse. It's the only thing that would prevent me form moving to a city. I really dont care much for burbs' but it's hard to beat my culd-de-sac.
    I also enjoy my integrated neighborhood, but I think that's actually pretty common in California -- I don't think California is all that segregated at this time. With the "majority" white population just under 50%, you find a lot of people of a lot of races in most places. From work to sports to bars, I find in most places, if you stop and look around, you'll find people of almost every ethnicity, and I've met people from all six populated continents who have moved here.

    I think many Midwestern cities tend to be a lot more segregated -- for the most part, I find California to be quite integrated. There are pockets that aren't, as with anywhere, but as a whole, a primarily White/Black/Hispanic/Asian/etc. area in SoCal means that area is 60-70% of that ethnicity, not 95-98% like you might find in Minnesota or Wisconsin.

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    Cyburbian
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    It probably is more integrated than most. Segregated may not be the right word, but there are just so many gated communities and places like Simi Valley though. Regardless, California is about as integrated as it comes (besides say Hawaii).


    About the original topic, there are avenues of integration in KC. Residentially it seemed pretty segregated to me, but I did not get that impression in restraurants, entertainment hubs, and culture. Barbeque and Kansas City Chiefs were for all.

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    Quote Originally posted by Dan

    * KCK has alleys! This results in fewer curb cuts along residential streets, but it also means that those tiny houses are packed in tight, with no driveways separating them. Density in and of itself isn't bad -- look at the KCMO Plaza area -- but densely populated lower income neighborhoods in the US tend to be troubled places.

    .
    you might want to re-read your jane jacobs there...

    usually depopulation of once dense areas and not density itself is the problem. these "dense" lower income areas are usually not dense at all compared to what they were when healthy.

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    KCK is notable for the Croatian immigrants who came to KC to work in the stockyards. There is still a viable Croatian-American presence in the city, along with African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and Central Americans (Central American-Americans?) The KC metro area is highly gentrified and racially divided, but downtown KCK is probably the closest to an integrated town that you'll see in the area.

    Kansas City, Kansas has some very neat architecture on the hill. The new public works building has a very clean facade. There's a tiny South American restaurant on the north side of the hill that has some of the best foot in the metro. Absolutely amazing stuff.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    As far as the white, black, hispanic, etc... I really don't care as long as my neighbors keep up their property and are somewhat easy to get along with.

    As far as restaurants, what about the Peach? If I recall correctly, they have some good home cooking there. Has anyone visited the Peach? I think there are 2 of them in KC???

  14. #14
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SuburbanNation
    you might want to re-read your jane jacobs there...
    Jacobs is not an end-all be-all you know. Everything she wrote was untested rule-of-thumb type ideas. Many of her ideas were great but some others were not. "Broken Windows" in particular has not stood up under quantative study.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
    http://neighborhoods.chicago.il.us Photographs of Life in the Neighborhoods of Chicago
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Jacobs is not an end-all be-all you know. Everything she wrote was untested rule-of-thumb type ideas.
    True. However there is very little she wrote in 'Life and Death' that seems clearly wrong. DO you have any examples (broken windows was NOT her phrase)

    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Jacobs is not an end-all be-all you know. Everything she wrote was untested rule-of-thumb type ideas. Many of her ideas were great but some others were not. "Broken Windows" in particular has not stood up under quantative study.
    "Broken Windows" has been subjected to a (predictable but disproportionate) onslaught of poor research. The only semi-decent research I've seen on it strongly suggests that changes in policing, particularly zero-tolerance, is not the ONLY factor behind lower crime. Some of the alternative explanatiosn have not been subjected to anythign like the same scrutiny / crap media coverage.

    The main studies citing abortion as a cause for lower crime (lower teenage cohorts), for instance, also give similar impotance to larger number of cops (!).
    Life and death of great pattern languages

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