I was very glad to see this new center in the middle of Kansas City. "Urban Conservation" is one of my big soapbox issues. I can go on and on about it. We all love nature, don't we? We all cherish America's "wild areas" and National Park, right? Sometimes though we are in danger of loving them to death. Sprawl, commericalization, overcrowding, overuse - these are real problems in our _parks_, not only in our cities. There is a real connection between American rather miserable urban centers, and the increasing threats to the well-being of the natural world. I think we have failed to see the connection the natural environment and the maintenance of our cities as healthy, sustainable, and enjoyable places. Simply put, one of the best ways we can protect and preserve our remaining natural wonders is to make our cities better places.
In their own words: "The goals of the Discovery Center are to provide a building and grounds that show real ways to live in harmony with nature, build conservation knowledge and skills based on interests of urban residents, provide traditional conservation services in the heart of the city, and to link conservation and communities by creating partnerships."
The Discovery Center is just south of 47th and Troost - it's the middle of the city, and some suburbanites might be turned off by the location - but it's not meant for them anyway. It is housed in a new facility that uses many "Green Building" features, and is surrounded by a garden that showcases the natural ecosystems of Missouri.
About 6 blocks or so west and 2 blocks north of the Plaza is a charming bunch of antique shops around the intersection of Sateline Rd. and W. 45th Street. There are 3 medium-sized antique malls and about a dozen independent antique stores with a wide range of good merchandise. You'll see everything from fine European, English and Asian antiques to midwest attic finds. There's a nice coffeehouse which serves lunch, and a gelato place. It's easy to spend half a day there. But if your hotel is on the Plaza, take a cab. It's mostly all uphill. Many hotels have drivers that will take you there without charge.
The Linda Hall Library of Science and Technology is an independent research library located in the middle of the UMKC campus. Use of the library is free and open to the public. Linda Hall has regular exhibitions highlighting their superb collection of rare scientific books and maps. And it's a beautiful place, too. There are comfortable tables and desks, and floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a well-maintained botanical garden. You don't have to be into science or technology to come here.
People in Kansas City have several misconceptions about the Linda Hall Library. For one thing, it is often thought that this is part of the UMKC campus. No - it's completely independent. Linda Hall operates with a large private endowment that guarantees its financial stability. Secondly, it is often assumed that "Linda Hall" was somehow related to the Hall family of Hallmark fame. No, these Halls were grain merchants.
Yooperprof worked here between 1988 and 1990 while writing and revising his doctoral dissertation. I was a library page, retrieving "closed stack" journals, occasionally guarding the front desk, and in charge of shelving and reshelving a section of the large periodical collection. I was responsible for the H's and I's.
A naturual oasis in the middle of the city, Kauffman Legacy Park is a relatively new addition to K.C.'s extensive park system. It was developed to showcase responsible "gardening" and the significance of ecosystem preservation in the heart of the urban core. Funding came both from public moneys and from the Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Foundation - the Kauffmans being Kansas City philanthropists (made their $$$ is pharmaceuticals) who died some years ago but whose generosity lives on and continues to enrich the community.
Kauffman Legacy Park is located in the middle of the Brush Creek flood plain, and it is hoped that its existence will help to alleviate the threat of flooding in the watershed. Through the years, flash floods have killed dozens of people in the Kansas City area.
On the hill behind the park stands the Stowers Institute, a major center for bio-medical research.
My cousin felt compelled to show me this garden. Like most gardens, it offers a refuge from city life. If you are so inclined, you can sit there and ponder on the secrets of the universe. Aside from beautiful flowers, it also has fine sculptures and fountains.
Admission to the garden is free. Its address is 4800 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, Missouri.
Brush Creek runs just south of the Country Club Plaza. The creek is a fancy drainage ditch, but it is well landscaped and passes some beautiful homes and buildings. Near the Plaza, large fountains offer a relaxing backdrop to the mediterannean architecture. If you follow the paved walkways to the west, beyond the Plaza, you find yourself in the middle of a neighborhood of nice homes and shady trees. Make sure you take a minute to look at the Santa Fe Trail sculpture next to the Fairmont Hotel - the landscaping around it has plants that are native to Santa Fe. Also make sure you say hello to the sculpture of Mr. Winston Churchill on the Broadway St. Bridge.
Also not far from The Plaza are residential areas with some unbelievably beautiful houses! This one used to be privately owned, but is now one of the 3 mansions aquired by UMKC for classrooms. This is the Epperson house which is where the architecture students have their classes.
The Plaza is several blocks of fine stores and restaurants. It's also very pretty and a very big tourist area. At Christmas time, it's filled with lights. It gets a little difficult to drive around there with all the horse drawn carriages that are driven through there then.
Kansas City has lots of fountains. It sort of reminds me of London in that respect. This is the one by the entrance to the famous shopping area called The Plaza.