Benton Boulevard looks different today

Benton Boulevard.jpg

Northeast News
February 26, 2014

By 1912, Kansas City’s Parks and Boulevards system had a budget of a little over $7 million per year. The Kessler designed system of parks connected by wide, tree lined boulevards was a big hit with the citizenry.

It, however, had detractors, one of whom was a powerful land owner and enigmatic real estate developer from Independence, Mo. Thomas Swope came to Kansas City in the mid 1850’s and began amassing huge tracts of land; land he had to pay taxes on. In 1896, Swope donated a 1,300 acre tract of land just outside the city limits to Kansas City.

The conveyance, however, came with stipulations. Swope directed the parks board to name the new park after him, to spend at least $5,000 per year on the park and it must forever be public park land. As the city’s parks system grew, however, Swope became a constant opponent of new parks and boulevards, often organizing initiative petitions against new condemnations for park land. Swope would later die under mysterious circumstances under the care of J. Bennett Hyde, a Kansas City physician.

This postcard, circa 1910, was published by the Southwest News Company and shows Benton Boulevard at 15th Street. Fifteenth Street would later be re-named Truman Road, much to the chagrin of the former president. The view is looking north, towards 12th Street. Today, I-70 bisects the view on the card. No evidence exists today that this bucolic view and the homes in it ever existed.

The card was mailed to Miss Fanny Faulkner, Box 1232, Faulkner, NY on June 10th, 1908. It was sent by Carrie Auker at 4636 E. 7th Street.

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