We moved there in 1960, left in 1967, over fifty years ago. But those are some formative years.
This was my third time back, all in the last twelve years. Last year we were there for a couple of days, but while we did some sightseeing, the focus was on the total solar eclipse. This time we had almost a whole week with the focus being the football game on Sunday, so we got to get much more familiar with the city as it exists today.
I really liked what I found. Aside from the museums, the art, the BBQ, and the hotel, I got time to wander a bit.
Downtown, near the Power & Light District, is full of construction on new, modern skyscrapers, mixed with block after block of restored historic buildings. For example, the Hotel President (another of the Hilton Curio Collection) was built in 1926 and was the site of the 1928 Republican National Convention.
All over the place are these monuments of Art Deco brickwork, right next to fancy glass & steel. I love the juxtaposition.
The Convention Center is huge and a cornerstone of Downtown. Just beyond it on the right a block or two is the Kaufmann Center for the Performing Arts, a world-class concert venue.
The city was decked out in its finest for the holidays.
In that vein, some of what I remember most are things I wasn’t able to take pictures of at the time. Shocking, I know – the very concept of me seeing something really neat and not taking a picture is horrifying, but in this case I was always driving so I chose the safe course. (Even more shocking!)
In this case, one thing that stood out was a large shopping area near the art museum. It was lit up for the holiday for blocks and blocks and seemed familiar. It was only after I got home that I stumbled across a series of photos from the early 1960s when the holiday lighting of the area was first started. Seeing the pictures from over 55 years ago, I recognized many of the buildings that I had seen last week. Since we were living in the area at the time I’m sure that we would have come down there as a family to look at the lights.
The city lights up beautifully at night and you can still see that dichotomy between the old and the new architecture. From our room at the Hotel Phillips we also had a great view of the downtown airport (seen here between the skyscrapers). When I was a kid this was the main airport and I remember many trips down there to pick up or drop off my dad when he was traveling for work.
On “Red Friday” through game day on Sunday, almost every flagpole in town was carrying a “Chiefs Kingdom” flag, just like the one we fly in our living room.
Another thing I saw but didn’t get to photograph was the way the city and skyscrapers lit up with red spotlights at night prior to the Chiefs game. Union Station, below the WWI Museum (which we saw last year) was lit up all in crimson. As you cross back the tracks and climb back toward Downtown, many of the big buildings, both old and new, are similarly lit.
I felt at home, a part of the community, in a way I’ve never felt in Los Angeles.
Finally, in weather I haven’t experienced in a long time (25°F with a 25 knot wind gusting to 35) I went and found “The Scout” statue, an iconic symbol of the city.
Needless to say, I had the park to myself. The locals are smart enough to be someplace warm. I was glad to be wearing more than a loincloth…
With Downtown in the distance, the Convention Center and Kaufmann Center clearly visible, the WWI museum nearby, this must be a wonderful park to hang out in during the warm summer months.
Maybe if this is where we pick to retire to we’ll find out. I could see that happening.