Tuesday, September 25, 2012

1940: 13th and Central

Another in a series of posts based on the tax reassessment photos of 1940. Learn more here

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The hot topic downtown: What to do with the former site of Convention Hall, now a weedy, vacant, city-owned lot across 13th Street from its five-year-old replacement, Municipal Auditorium. 

More accurately, the question is: Parking or park

Members of the Downtown Committee, a group of business and property owners, would like a new parking lot there to accommodate events at the auditorium. Owners of existing parking facilities say: Not so fast.

"I do not believe that it is necessary to open the auditorium lot for parking. Only on a very few occasions are the present facilities filled to capacity," says the chairman of the garage and parking division of the Automotive Trades Association. "And if the lot should be opened, it would be likely to drive some of the present stations out of business."

The parking-garage establishment finds itself in league with lovers of natural beauty. 

"Kansas City has the dirtiest, ugliest and scrawniest downtown section of any city its size in the world," says one. "A few shrubs stuck around there to camouflage the parked cars will be no more beauty than three or four feathers stuck into the tail of a naked turkey. When I think of what could be done with that lot I think of John Keats who said, 'A thing of beauty is a joy forever.'"

The City Council agrees, favoring instead a new city park. And, of course, the Building Owners and Managers Association passes a unanimous resolution against that idea.

"The idea of a public and decorative park at this point [is] declared abhorrent, wasteful of the public funds, serving no useful purpose, requiring maintenance and expense to the city to keep up, and adding generally to the policing job of public authorities," it says.

In the meantime, the weedy lot is acting naturally, as weedy lots will do. At least until the cops arrive. Which they do one morning in June as part of their effort to rid the city of a particular type of weed. 

The city health department promises the marijuana plants will be destroyed before they go to seed.

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