~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

~ 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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