It is already the last day of March and I have not posted a destination. As always, it is my nature to over think and delay. I am behind on my self-imposed schedule. Thinking a day trip would be a good beginning I will write just a little and visit this locale another time when I am more comfortable with blogging. The Crossroads Arts District is a complex destination that you can make into a quick visit or a longer stay. Choose based upon your energy level and support systems. If you are interested in the Kansas City art scene, excellent restaurants, vintage architecture, Kansas City’s film history, or just people watching The Crossroads is definitely worth the trouble any time of the month but now it is time for April’s…
Every first Friday of each month of the year, yes, even in the dead of winter you will find a vibrant event in the Crossroads. Depending upon the weather outside, you may find, jazz musicians, rappers, street vendors, food trucks and more. The start of new exhibitions for the month, this is a crazy but fun-filled tour of shops and galleries in the area. If this is your sort of adventure I suggest you attend early to walk or roll the streets and sidewalks. After about, 5 pm it is very difficult for an impaired person to navigate the pathways. Unless, you are in a scooter or wheelchair wielded by a strong, courageous, assistant you most likely will find sidewalk travel difficult. A good choice may be to attend early. One, so you can navigate the streets to get a good parking spot, two, so you can move around on the sidewalks before the crowds of people descend upon the place, and three you may want to choose a good place to people watch or snap a good pic. There is a lot of material here.
You could begin at the top of the hill at 17th and Wyandotte. The Webster House [(one of Kansas City’s oldest school houses, built in 1885) http://www.websterhousekc.com] has outdoor seating and food service when the weather warms. There is easy parking beside the building for us mobility challenged folks. The building is filled with fabulous furniture, accessories, and small gifts. The old school house has an excellent restaurant on the second floor. The delights of the building and grounds are all easily accessible from the parking lot with a ramp and a beautiful elevator on the first floor. Additional parking may be found across the street for a small fee.
Another option would be to park close to Broadway on West 18th street. You will encounter an Urban Garden project. Walking east you will pass sites that record part of the history of the area’s “Old Film Row”. Between 1920 and 1960 this spot was part of Hollywood’s film industry. Many of the buildings here served as distribution sites for film studios in California. You will step on Kansas City’s own “Walk of Stars” and of course, you may feel Walt Disney looking over your shoulder. Walt Disney was here!
Keep walking east and you will find another great spot to stop and rest. One of Kansas City’s fun outdoor venues, YJ’s Snack Bar. Eat in or outside to watch the action. You will find a constant stream of interesting characters and artists from the neighborhood. YJ’s has been featured on Guy Fieri’s, Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. David Ford, the proprietor, and internationally famous artist, will make sure you enjoy a great inexpensive meal and a super cup of coffee. A little known fact is that YJ’s serves as the hub for Kansas City’s Mardi Gras Celebration on Fat Tuesday every year. Pull up a chair. You never know who or what you will see.
This is just one small corner of the Crossroads. Keep traveling east and you will pass Peggy Noland’s storefront, the biggest business card ever. She designs clothes for the Stars. The last time Lady Gaga was at Sprint Center Peggy designed the outfits for Lady Gaga’s back up singers. You can see the edge of her shop on the right side of YJ’s photo above. Walk on to find, just before the alley, Birdie’s Underwear, a fabulous location to find luxury under garments for both men, women and transgender folk. You name it, you will find it in this mecca of all things creative. Keep looking up and you will see a replica of the rocket ship that adorns the rooftop corner of the old TWA building. What?, is that Elton John you hear? On this same block you will find an art gallery, an event space, photography studios, a chocolate store and a lighted alleyway with clothes designers, a jeweler and more. As an impaired person looking for a fun and welcoming spot you have found it. Again, this is just one tiny spot in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District. There are blocks and blocks for you and me to cover! Watch the street close and you may see Jim Leedy on a motorized wheelchair. He is the internationally famous artist that started this magical world in the 80’s to provide studios and living spaces for artists. He mostly hangs out on the south side of the Boulevard, in the area of the Crossroads known as the Freight House District. We can tour this area on another day trip. More to come! Keep moving, be safe and trip often.