After all the fanfare, I’m a day late. Sigh. My computer had a near meltdown yesterday, but everything seems to be in working order today (knock on wood!) So, without further ado, I present you with the first reason I love Kansas City:
The Country Club Plaza began as a vision of famous Kansas City developer J.C. Nichols, who wanted to create a retail district away from the downtown area. And more than eight decades later, the Plaza remains not only a premier example of new urbanism, but also a favorite spot for Kansas City residents and visitors alike.
My Plaza experience began seven years ago. As college students, my friends and I would frequently roadtrip to Kansas City, spending most of our time on the Plaza as we browsed the stores (including the couture department at Halls, which seemed almost ethereal in its luxury). At the time, KC Masterpiece was one of my favorite Plaza eateries (thank goodness my tastebuds have matured!) and I also spent an ungodly three hours to get into The Cheesecake Factory.
In August 2004, the Plaza took on new significance for me. After moving to Kansas City to begin an unpaid internship, I also happily found myself with an unexpected roommate. My best friend, Jamie, opened the door of her Plaza apartment to me, and for the next three years, we had a blast in our airy, spacious digs that were ideally perched on the corner of Roanoke and Ward Parkway. We quickly carved out several Plaza-centric traditions, including our annual Plaza lighting ceremony parties, snow day celebrations and frequent trips to Latteland for coffee and The. Best. Cookies. In. The World. (or wedding cake cookies, as they’re more commonly known).
My departure from the Plaza to the Northland (and later downtown) was bittersweet, but I still frequent the coffeeshops and boutiques on a regular basis. One of my favorite Kansas City scenes unfolds as you walk along Ward Parkway; on one side, the Plaza beckons, and on the other, the towering Intercontinental and Raphael hotels, along with several apartment buildings, stand as gracious sentinels that steadfastly observe Brush Creek and the larger Plaza district.
It’s on the Plaza that I found my first true home in Kansas City and began a career that would eventually lead me to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write a tribute to the city I love so much. Take the time to explore one of the city’s crown jewels, and you just may find a similar sense of belonging among the Spanish-style architecture that seems at once incredibly exotic and quintessentially Kansas City.