Old reservoir new park site

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This week’s postcard, published by the Southwest News Company of Kansas City, shows the bandstand and comfort station in Observation Park, Kansas City, Mo.

The small, 4.5 acre park located at the corner of 20th Street and Jarboe was originally acquired by the city’s Fire and Water Commission for use as a reservoir to serve the industrial West Bottoms area some 300 feet below. The part of the tract not used for a reservoir was developed as a small park.

The reservoir was located just to the south (or behind in this view) of the bandstand and measured roughly 180 feet long by 100 feet or so wide and held 7.75 million gallons of water. Designed by prominent local architect Adriance Van Brunt, the bandstand shown on the card was constructed in 1909. The comfort station was located below the main outdoor floor of the bandstand, visible in the card.

According to an article in the Kansas City Journal Post on March 19, 1939, vandals all but destroyed the bandstand, and the parks department ordered the structure demolished. A cadre of twelve neighbors, however, decried the demolitions order and petitioned the parks department to rebuild the structure, which they did in 1940-41, according to a Journal Post article. Following its reconstruction, vandals struck again. Concerned West-Side neighbors, this time 500 of them, petitioned the city to again rebuild the structure and add more equipment.  

In 1953, the old bandstand was demolished and the reservoir was filled in and a baseball field was constructed in its place. Today, the area in the foreground of this card is level and has a small seating area overlooking a tall stone retaining wall looking north toward the Missouri river and downtown.

The postcard was sent to Mrs. Anton Noll of New Cambria, Mo., on June 2, 1917. The message on the back reads: “How are you? We are fine. We were out at Lizzie’s Wednesday. Had a nice streetcar ride too. Suppose you’ve seen this by now. Elsie.”

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