~The Country Club Plaza~

Kansas City, Missouri

The Plaza is an outdoor museum of romantic Spanish architecture and European art
Where people actually live and work every day amid its beauty
It was designed in 1922 as the nation's first suburban shopping district
Since then, its open-air public art gallery has continuously added to its collection
With fountains, sculptures and murals that bring to the heart of our city the very best of the Old World and the new.

Before the turn of the 20th century, the Brush Creek Valley was little more than a watering hole for those on their way to somewhere else. Fur trappers, Indians, soldiers and early settlers all walked its banks, but their journeys took them elsewhere

Only one man had the vision to see the little valley as something more. With steadfast determination and hard work, Jesse Clyde (J.C.) Nichols changed the face of the land forever, transforming a swampy, unappealing tract of land into the country's first shopping center, the Country Club Plaza

When the construction of the Plaza was announced, many of the city's leaders called it "Nichols' Folly". What they didn't see was a masterplan that was years in the making and reflected a study of shopping areas around the world. Nichols had his architects and landscape designers plan the whole project in advance so future buildings would be part of the total environment.

Remembering his travel experiences in Europe and the Southwest, Nichols chose a Spanish theme for the Plaza that included beautiful courtyards and stucco buildings with red tile roofs and ornate towers.

He hand-picked works of art to adorn the Plaza's streets and sidewalks; antique sculptures, columns, tile-adorned murals, wrought iron and fountains were all meticulously placed by J.C. himself.

And he designed The Plaza with the car in mind. There were eight filling stations in the early days. Garages and parking lots were ample. The Plaza became the first major shopping area in the country to be constructed to cater to people arriving by automobile.

The early days of the Plaza were exciting, and ever-changing. New buildings were constructed, streets widened and paved, stores opened, and people came. Seeing the successes of early Plaza merchants, many long-standing Downtown stores moved south with a second location on the Plaza, while other shops ventured into uncharted territory offering the newest in fashion and entertainment

Brush Creek runs through the heart of the Country Club Plaza

The creek was not much more than a drainage ditch until a few years ago, with a paved center section carrying the creek downstream between the earthen banks

Then, taking the idea from the famous San Antonio Riverwalk, it was decided to try something of the same. The channel was dammed at the low end, and widened to 70 feet, a paved walkway down each side and landscaped the entire way

It was envisioned to have restaurants and other attractions along the Riverwalk but that hasn't happened yet

At this location a boat landing was constructed and two colorful boats carried passengers the length of the Plaza for two seasons. But they did not attract enough patronage and are presently closed

But the boat dock is still there, and maybe someday we will get the boats back

Meanwhile there is increasing activity along the Riverwalk, the location attracting concerts and other events

In the summer of 2006 a Chinese Dragon Boat Race was held in Brush Creek

Only two boats that time but another event is planned with more competition

And then the Duck Derby was held there, but I left before the race and didn't get a picture of the ducks in the creek

But even with no events, the Riverwalk is a great addition to the Country Club Plaza

The Plaza at Thanksgving

~ My IBM 25th Anniversary Dinner was held at this Hotel ~
~ The 'Fairmont Kansas City' on the Country Club Plaza ~
~ March First 1981 ~

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