DATE OF EVENT: Thursday, June 25, 1896
DATE PUBLISHED: Thursday, June 25, 1896, in The Kansas City Star
Editor’s note: Almost 20,000 people attended the dedication of Swope Park, packing trains, hacks and wagons to get to what was then a fairly distant site. Two weeks earlier, Col. Thomas Swope had donated the 1,313-acre area to the city park board, at the time the second-largest tract of urban parkland in the United States. Swope imposed conditions with his gift: that the land be named Swope Park, that it be used forever as a park and that the city spend a set amount each year for 10 years to improve it.
Swope park was dedicated grandly to-day by Mayor Jones and the bright eyed mothers and happy children of Kansas City.
To-day’s jubilee, with its morning parade through the rain-cooled streets and its successful afternoon of speeches and sightseeing at everybody’s domain of forest, meadow and river — now known throughout the Southwest as Swope park — had a three-fold mission, namely:
To demonstrate the public thanks and appreciation to Colonel Swope for the gift of Swope park.
To celebrate the inception of a vast park system which will change the face of Kansas City to beauty and a city of homes and a city great in metropolitan charms as well as railways and packing houses.
To put the devotion to Kansas City or those who dwell and flourish within the city’s generous gates to the test.
The two most happy features of Jubilee morning were the glorious morning sunshine through the cooled atmosphere and the little children in the streets in their pretty new holiday frocks. The pleasure in a great park is its simplicity and the demonstration to-day was simple but grand, because it was engineered and carried out in behalf of the workmen, the mother and the little children of Kansas City.
The rain which fell steadily for two hours last night and early this morning did not drench the enthusiasm of the thousands who had planned to celebrate to-day the gift to the city by Colonel Swope of a park of more than 1,000 acres. Mayor Jones augmented that it would be a good thing to have a holiday, so that everybody could go out and see the new park and thank Colonel Swope for it. The people became enthusiastic over that proposition, and everyone who could get away had planned to go.
In the early hours of the morning the sky was overcast with the dark clouds and rain dripped from everything. It was a question then whether or not the parade and the grand picnic at the park better be postponed. But before 8 o’clock the clouds blew over. …
In the parade were the Kansas City Cyclists, the Niagras, the Stars and the federation. Besides those regular clubs there were women and amateur cyclists. The cyclists were guarded on each side by mounted policemen and behind them came eighteen mounted police. …
“This is going to be a busy day,” said Superintendent H. H. Pickering of the Pittsburgh & Gulf as he looked out of his office window at the Grand Central depot this morning and saw a surging crowd of people on the platform. The superintendent threw off his coat and vest, went out into the yards where engines were tugging away at long lines of coaches and began switching cars like it was an every day occupation with him.
As early as 9 o’clock 500 people were waiting at the depot to join the Swope park excursion. A Kansas City, Osceola & Southern train of five cars was backed into the depot and Conductor Dunn cried “all aboard.” …