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Harrison Parkway Restoration | Print |

In 2001 Katie Speck lead the restoration of Harrison Parkway. This has literally been an historic renovation. The project committee studied documentary evidence, including George Kessler's pen and ink drawings of the Parkway, early photographs, old aerial studies and actual stump remains to determine where to put new trees. Kessler conceived the park as an unstructured space, with specimen trees, "woody" groves and open spaces occurring as they might naturally. We've followed his lead, while taking into account how the park is actually used. The "dog park" remains open for our four footed friends, the sledding hill off Manheim is still a clear slide, the lawn below Sion is open for games, and important sight lines that draw the eye up or through the area have been preserved.

The first phase of the project involved removing 150 trees. Most were scrub/volunteers and some were dying. Since then, natural attrition has claimed others. One of the major efforts has been and continues to be the removal of all the shrub or bush honeysuckles. They had been planted as ornamentals in the early 1900s and as wildlife food plants. The plant is non-native and the state of Missouri considers it an exotic plant that "Won't Stay Put." Birds eat the fruits and spread the seeds. Where shrub honeysuckle grows, it often replaces the native shrubs.

In the spring of 2004 188 trees were planted in the parkway. The 21 different species include seven types of oaks, dogwoods, crab apples, maples, kentucky coffee trees, pines, spruces and American Sycamores.

Before any physical work started on the project, Dave Anderson, a resident photographer, took pictures of the parkway so that we would be able to track the progress of the restoration. As part of this effort, he also take photos of the parkway from the same vantage points as the historic photos. Although the 2002 photos were taken in the winter time, one can see that a significant number of the historic trees have been lost. Also one can see how the street trees that were planted in the 1980's do not fit the natural design Kessler implmented. The historic photographs are courtesy of the Parks, Recreation and Boulevards Department of Kansas City, Missouri.
Gillham Road north of 39th Street looking east 1911

Gillham Road north of 39th Street looking east 1911

West side of Gillham, north of Westport Junior High School, Locust street did not go through and the Eagle Scout Memorial is not there. Right stone wall still exists. Remanents of the Santa Fe Trail are north of the middle stone wall.
West side of Gillham

West side of Gillham

Looking east from west side of Gillham at curve before 39th Street. Date unknown. Pre Eagle Scout Memorial.
Harrison Parkway just off 39th Street

Harrison Parkway just off 39th Street

Northeast from 39th Street. 1907. School road has been slightly relocated.
Harrison west of Holmes

Harrison west of Holmes

Northeast off of 39th Street. 1939 Edge of school road shown on left. Holmes street is where the second vehicle is and the men are getting ready to cross.


Man is standing north of Manheim Road and west of Campbell Street. 1931. Mayor Bryce Smith's house in background.


South side of Harrison Parkway between Campbell Street and Harrison Boulevard. 1909. Sycamores are still standing so must be at least 200 years old.
Harrison between Campbell and Holmes

Harrison between Campbell and Holmes

South side of Harrison Parkway looking at Campbell and Gleed Terrace. 1932. Same sycamores as previous picture. Most of the 1909 trees have been lost except for the now towering oak at the southwest corner of Gleed Terrace and Campbell St.
Additional pre-restoration pictures were taken of Harrison Parkway in 2002.
East of Eagle Scout Memoral

North side of Harrison Parkway east of Eagle Scout Memorial
North of 39th Street

Between 39th and Harrison Parkway to Holmes.
39th street looking to Janssen Place

North of 39th Street looking toward Janssen Place
Northwest Harrison and Holmes

Northwest from Harrison Parkway and Holmes Street
Southeast from Holmes to Manheim

Southeast from Holmes across Harrison Parkway to Manheim Raod
West from Campbell

West from southeast corner of Campbell Street and Harrison Parkway

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