A new book about Brookside came out last Fall and I’m finally getting around to reading it. Titled “The Brookside Story – Shops of Every Necessary Character” by LaDene Morton, this short but well-researched book tells the history of one of the nation’s first shopping districts built outside of a downtown area. For as much as I love Brookside..I didn’t know that much about its history. Shame on me–but that’s resolved now! I’m not quite finished with the book but wanted to share a few facts that surprised me.
*Brookside was started in 1919, before the Country Club Plaza. I had always assumed the city grew south from downtown and Brookside followed the Plaza. But JC Nichols created his plan for the Brookside shops to serve the residents of the Country Club District–“America’s first planned subdivision to be built on a massive scale” according to the book.
*The Country Club District was created to attract wealthy residents from Quality Hill, who were moving due to the growth of the downtown area. Nichols wanted to attract these people to the Brookside area to keep property values stable. He wanted the families who moved here to stay here–and so designed the winding boulevards, tree lined streets, large and smaller homes with easy access to shops and other amenities. This was his “‘plan for permanence”.
*The Brookside Shops were born in 1919, when Nichols first broke ground at the northeast corner of 63rd and Brookside Blvd. Over the next ten years, more shops were added. In a very shrewd move, he first sold a lot on 63rd to the City of Kansas City MO for construction of a new fire and police station, knowing that this basic public service would be essential to attract residents. The Station Building now houses The Fiddly Fig.
I’ll write about more interesting Brookside stories in future posts. If you are a fan of Brookside, buy this book! Visit the website, www.brooksidestory.com, for more information.
Thanks for reading my blog–your comments are welcome!