DATE PUBLISHED: Thursday, May 19, 1881, in The Kansas City Star
Editor’s note: This editorial marked the beginning of The Kansas City Star’s vigorous campaign for public spaces, the first strong push raised on behalf of city parks. In the 1890s, Kansas City will begin its “city beautiful” campaign, creating and beautifying public spaces that included Penn Valley Park, Cliff Drive and the Paseo.
With a population of over 65,000, Kansas City has no public park, no place of resort where the people can congregate with their families and spend a pleasant hour or so, away from the hot and dusty streets. The need of a public park is forcibly illustrated every Sunday afternoon by the large number of people who gather at the fair grounds and promenade over its green acres. People will go somewhere and in lieu of a park, they assemble at these grounds and wander aimlessly about, the only attractions there being the green grass and shade trees. The time, too, is rapidly approaching when even this boon will be denied the people, as in a year or so at least, the fair grounds will be laid off into lots and sold. A few years ago this valuable property was available and could have been purchased very cheap by the city for a public park. As the years have rolled by, however, it has become more valuable, until now the price is beyond the reach of the city, thus preventing the possibility of a purchase. Five years ago a gentleman who owns a piece of property very suitable for a public park, offered it to the city, at a reasonable price per acre and on twenty years time. This was the last opportunity the city ever had, or probably ever will have, to secure an eligible location for a park, on such terms as were offered. The opportunity was not improved, and Kansas City to-day, with all its enterprise and vim, is without a park.
In the meantime property is advancing all the time, and will in a year or so more command fabulous prices. In view of this fact is it not about time that the young metropolis of the border should be taking some steps to provide a public park? The officials may dodge the issue, and seek to excuse themselves by saying the new city charter prohibits the expenditure of money for any such purpose. This, however, will not strictly satisfy the people, nor condone official negligence in this matter, as special legislation to secure a park could easily be had, provided there was an earnest movement for the purpose. If Kansas City ever expects to have a public park there will never be a more favorable opportunity than now. It would be a crowning act in the history of Mayor Frink’s administration if he would take measures that would result in securing to the city, a public park. Will he do it?