Sunday, April 14, 2013

Kansas City's West Bottoms - 4/13/2013

Sigrid saw an article in the newspaper about the West Bottoms and wanted to check it out.  There is a mini-revival going on in the area that is dominated by industrial businesses housed in early 1900's buildings.  The revival has a long ways to go before it really starts changing the face of the bottoms.  There are new art galleries, restaurants, furniture stores, and other trendy new shops open, but the infrastructure is still pretty shabby.  The new businesses are most likely leasing their space and wouldn't have the money to really restore the old buildings in any case.  There are some grand old buildings in the bottoms even if they are badly crumbling.

When I use the term "bottoms", it refers to the Missouri and Kaw River bottoms at their confluence just west of downtown Kansas City (aka flood plain in many cases).  This area was heavily damaged during the great flood of 1951.  The older buildings are survivors of that flood.

I worked in the bottoms during the summers of 1966 and 1967, between school years, at Columbian Steel Tank Company.  I made grain bins and bolted steel tanks.  I rolled steel, cut parts to size on huge metal shears, and loaded trucks and box cars with the finished products.  It was hot work, especially inside the box cars.  In those years, the stock yards were still going strong and they were directly across the street from Columbian Steel Tanks.  Hundreds of wooden stock pens with cattle and pigs covered acres of land with manure which literally steamed after a rain in the summer heat....what a great place to work.  It made me appreciate my education and future potential even more.  In any case, I have a long familiarity with the bottoms.

Sigrid and I had lunch at Jerry's Woodsweather Cafe while in the bottoms.  It was great!  The tenderloin sandwich was huge and the hand cut fries reminded my of the ones my mother used to make.  It goes without saying that Jerry's is not pretentious, but that is okay.  We love these kinds of places.

As luck would have it, it was open mike day at Jerry' added treat.

Nothing fancy, but the food is really good.  We will go back as soon as the cholesterol flushes out of our systems from this visit.

 A tribute to all the industry located in the area around the restaurant.

 My tenderloin and fries.  Sigrid had shrimp and loved them.

 Amanda Wish played the ukulele and sang...she was very good.  Later she switched to a conventional six string guitar.  We didn't stay past her set.  There were more musicians in the wings waiting to play after she was done.

 Peek a boo.


Millions of dollars have been invested spray paint for the graffiti on all the buildings in the area.

 This was a horribly ugly building due to the decay and all the junk piled around it so I had to jazz it a little.

 All the older buildings are brick and were spectacular in their day.

We are preparing for a trip to Iowa and the Amana Colonies very shortly.  It should be lots of fun full of photo opportunities.