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National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark

In 1974 the Kansas City Park and Boulevard System was selected by the ASCE as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. The following is the program distributed during the recognition ceremony.




ASCE 1974

Introduction Marion M. Harter
President, Kansas City Section
History of Kansas City, Missouri
Parks and Boulevard System
Walter N. Snow
Chairman, Kansas City Section
Landmark Committee
Presentation of Plaque Charles W. Yoder
National President, ASCE
Acceptance Carl Migliazzo
Kansas City Missouri Board of
Parks and Recreation
Sponsored by
Kansas City Section, American Society of Civil Engineers
Kansas City Park and Boulevard System

      This project, designed and built in the period 1893-1915, was an outstanding and very early example of integrated city-wide planning. The park and boulevard system became the principal urban design element of the city, despite its originating from a park plan rather than a complete city plan. From the beginning it has been conceived and built to influence future development rather than merely to respond to current needs or problems.

      The original plan included four major parks connected by a network of boulevards and was rounded out by neighborhood parks and playgrounds. The boulevards defined and separated the sections of the city devoted to industrial, commercial and residential use. They also provided an incentive for quality residential development and encouraged planned land use in the absence of effective zoning. Thus real estate values were generated and preserved.

      The designers sought to combine esthetics with utility throughout the system. They further strove to preserve the natural environment to the greatest extent possible by adapting the parks and boulevards to Kansas City's topography and forestation. The social effects of the system were also carefully considered. Three of the original major developments were sited to replace blighted areas, and the neighborhood parks and playgrounds were located to provide recreational facilities within walking distance of congested residential sections.

      The success of this pioneering program of city planning was due not only to creative and thorough interdisciplinary design effort, but also to the mobilization of widespread and continuing community support. The merits of the Kansas City plan were widely recognized and its example was followed in many other cities. In its conception and execution the park and boulevard system foreshadowed many of the environmental and social concerns of the design professions today.