Thursday, February 23, 2006

Troost Avenue - Is That a Pulse I'm Feeling?

Troost Avenue holds a vivid place in the imagination of most Kansas Citians. It's a nice, broad street with some charming businesses on it, but it has long served as the unofficial boundary between black and white Kansas City - so much so that a now defunct restaurant at Troost and Gregory assumed the name Grace - A Bistro on the Edge.

A lot of white Kansas Citians view Troost as the beginning of a dangerous ghetto. A lot of white Kansas Citians have never driven on Troost. A lot of black Kansas Citians have seen the malignant disregard paid to the formerly glorious street, and it has fed their resentment.

The tortured role of Troost Avenue is portrayed in Troost Avenue Blues, a 30 minute, three part blues rumination which will debut on Sunday afternoon at BB's Lawnside Barbecue.

But there is something happening on Troost, and it's positive. If you explore the neglected street, you'll see that some wonderful growth has begun, and there are things to appeal to a wide range of interests.

First, you can find "Garments for a Bewildered Electorate" at Ideal Garment and Scientific Panty (no, I'm not making that up). Owner Susan Wiegand, author of the quirky, wonderful and inspired "Cooking as Courtship" sells garments that reflect her passionate belief that clothing should both look and feel great. She has set up shop in a fantastic old firehouse, and she and her husband Jeff make visitors feel welcome and, at least in my case, much more hip than they truly are.

A few blocks south is the Discovery Center, ten acres of nature in the heart of the city. You'll find walking trails, museum exhibits, a fine gift shop (with awesome and inexpensive books on Missouri wildlife) and a courtyard full of activity at a dozen or so bird feeders.

If you haven't been to Mike's Tavern, you've been missing out on a classic dive bar, with pool tables, live music, and cold beer. Just go there.

A few blocks further south is Durwin Rice, a paper and decoupage shop with an extremely mellow and friendly dog. The owners are working hard to meet an audacious goal of having 10,000 tulips planted on Troost before October, in honor of Dr. Benoist Troost's Dutch heritage.

There's more on Troost, of course. Rockhurst University has a beautiful quad. New York Bakery & Deli sells a killer Reuben sandwich. Soil Service Garden Center is a great place to buy plants and other garden necessities.

What do you like about Troost?


Blogger Xavier Onassis said...

I'm curious about something.

All of these "positive" things that you cite happening on Troost appear to involve white investment and commitment.

Don't get me wrong...I'm not accusing you of anything. From your posts I think we probably share a lot of the same politics and philosophies.

But aren't there any "positive" things happening on Troost that involve minority investment and commitment?

2/24/2006 6:41 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Great point, XO. And, yes, I did miss some opportunities to plug some good black-owned businesses. Thanks for pointing out my myopia - I'll try to put together an update tomorrow that corrects my oversight.

2/24/2006 8:31 PM  
Blogger moose & squirrel said...

I would add the new YMCA that is set to open just down the street from me. I live on 70th street just west of Holmes and it will be a delight to have them in hood.

moose & squirrel

2/25/2006 2:35 PM  
Blogger moose & squirrel said...

I would add 2 other great Troost Ave business, this one located near 31st Street:

Jcc Gourmet Popcorn.

Highly recommended.

Further down the road at 19th and Troost is American Micro

Though the business is white owned, the operations manager is a lovely African-American woman named Cynthia.

moose & squirrel

2/25/2006 2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe this is a sad commentary on the way things are, but... If it is an integrated, growing neighborhood we are hoping for then it is the white owned businesses that are the most newsworthy. Minority owned businesses are essential to the growth and personality of the corridor, but it is an increased white presence that will draw more investment dollars and encourage burgeoning interest in the area. It sucks, but its true.

2/27/2006 12:17 PM  
Anonymous a new reader said...

Perhaps the white investment dollars will destroy whatever multicultural aspect is flourishing on the Troost Corridor. Perhaps this capitalistic ideal is not what Troost is about if we are to change the "divide" it has been. Perhaps small and wonderful differences are meaningful. Perhaps too much investment can drive up property values and drive out minority interests. Just some thoughts...

3/16/2006 12:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a few thoughts. I havent been there since 1986. I lived as a child directly behind Mikes Bar and as a white boy, I would roam the neighborhoods as if there were no grandfathered implied border. i do remember our house being broken into a couple of times when we were in it, getting beaten soundly by rampaging gangs of kids for no apparent reason, quite a few shootings in the neighborhood over the years. we moved to seattle which is far whiter, but not really any safer as far as I could tell as I got even more soundly beatten by the thugs there. I wonder why gentrification is so demonized. It affects all residents of a community equally. It takes crime statistics to show that a neighborhood safe, not income or racial demographics. some people are way to eager to play the race card. recently, here in seattle a light rail was put in in the rainier valley down martin luther king way which runs right through the most ethnicly diverse section of town. all through the planning stages a group that called themselves the "save our valley coalition" formes to protest the construction. they claimed that it would disrupt their lives and that it was"White" money pushing them around. well, since, the property values there are catching up to the "white" north end, putting quite a lot of equity in the pockets of the minority land owners there, and giving them a really cool light rail to ride. the business that were crying foul all of a sudden find themselves able to double their prices, and profits. this is how many people are escaping poverty and making a good life for them selves. entire neighborhoods on quite a massive scale are being completely upgraded, and the racial demographics arent changing very much. It remains to be seen if the minorities that have been blessed with the preferential treatment regarding the placement of families into many low cost NEW and quite stylish housing will take care of it better than, say, wayne minor in kansas city was... anyway, not to be long winded but I really hope that whatever investment that makes it there isnt decried as "white" dollars. for goodness sake, over half of america is white so what, it is community investment, it is american investment, and the boon that results from any investment will most likely benefit everyone regardless of who you are

9/22/2007 4:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Stand Theatre is my favorite thing about Troost. I just love to go there and suck some cocks all afternoon!

4/16/2009 12:31 AM  

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