TKC EXCLUSIVE!!! KICK-ASS KANSAS CITY STREETCAR GUEST POST TONIGHT!!!
TKC Note . . . Really great insight that's both thoughtful and fair from a KICK-ASS TKC READER this evening . . . Check it:
EPIC KANSAS CITY STREETCAR HISTORY RANT!!!
I'm going to get up on the soapbox for a couple of minutes here and I hope you'll hang with me.
Concerning the issue of streetcars in Kansas city? I would suggest that maybe this is an opportunity to open up a bigger discussion. One beyond just the streetcar to include where this city has been, where it is, and what it is going to be in the next 50-100 years.
The fact that this streetcar project is even necessary is another example of one of the MANY times that city leaders have lacked REAL vision for the long-term impact of their decisions.
It's also a cautionary tale about what the city wants to do with the new system and the proposed airport. Too many times they've made decisions primarily for THAT moment in time, without looking 10-30+ years into the future.
The truly sad fact is that EVERYTHING related to:
- The current street car project. - The near-abandonment of downtown in the 1960s-2000s period. - The need for the flurry of new construction downtown in last few years.
Didn't have to be the way it has unfolded over the last 50+ years!
In the early 30s to late 50s, Kansas City was acknowledged as having one of the best streetcar systems in the United States!
Check out the map on the Wikipedia link - that system went well into KCK, Independence, and way down to the south of downtown!
If the city hadn't dismantled the line and sold the cars (some of them are still in operation today in San Francisco and Philadelphia), Kansas City would probably be a VERY different town:
- The line could have been continually upgraded and expanded. - Downtown might have continued to grow and thrive with a mix of apartments and businesses. - There wouldn't have been this "WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING NOW!!!" attitude about the P&L, the streetcar line, etc.
For that matter, with a thriving downtown, maybe:
- KCI is built on the grounds the Wheeler Airport (formerly Municipal), centrally located for everyone as well as close and convenient to downtown - The Truman Sports Complex is built much closer to downtown.
That list goes on and on. My real point is that the city has consistently lacked LONG-TERM vision on almost every major decision in the last sixty years.
And I'm not a negative person. I hope the P&L thrives. I hope the streetcar line turns out to be a good thing. I hope whatever happens with KCI works out.
But given the track record of the decision makers? The odds are against it.