(Kansas City, Missouri) - How did Kansas City miraculously transform itself from "the filthiest city in the United States" in the 19th century into the clean, well-planned metropolis envisioned by renowned landscape architect George Kessler?
Patrick Alley and Dona Boley, both residents of the city's Hyde Park neighborhood, examine the makeover on Sunday, January 25, 2015 at 2 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., in an illustrated lecture based on their new book Kansas City's Parks and Boulevards.
The presentation, part of the Library's Missouri Valley Sundays series, begins at 2 p.m.
Prior to the mid-1800s, life on the banks of the Missouri River was less than satisfying for Kansas City's residents. The drainage of many houses emptied into gullies and cesspools. Improvements finally were considered after years of unattractive scenery, unsanitary living conditions, and consistently muddy streets.
Through the efforts of a handful of newly arrived citizens, political, financial, and botanical skills were successfully applied to a nascent parks system. Cliffs and bluffs, ugly ravines, and shanties and slums were turned into a gridiron of green, with chains of parks and boulevards extending in all directions. Wherever the system penetrated well-settled localities, the policy was to provide playgrounds, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, pools, and field houses.
By the time the city fathers were finished, Kansas City featured 90 miles of boulevards and 2,500 acres of urban parks. The success story was an inspiration for civic efforts in the new millennium.
Alley, a Kansas City investment banker, is a local historian and former Hyde Park Neighborhood Association board member. Boley is a longtime historic preservation advocate and an activist on behalf of the city's system of parks and boulevards.
Admission to the event is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org  or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th and Baltimore.