The Paseo (Kansas City, Missouri)

The Paseo (also known as Paseo Boulevard, or Paseo) is a major north–south parkway in Kansas City, Missouri. It runs approximately 10 miles (16 km) (85 blocks) in the center of the city: from Cliff Drive and Lexington Avenue on the bluffs above the Missouri River in the Pendleton Heights historic neighborhood, to 85th Street and Woodland Avenue. The parkway holds 223 acres (0.90 km2) of boulevard parkland dotted with several Beaux-Arts-style decorative structures and architectural details maintained by the city's Parks and Recreation department.[1]

The name for Kansas City's first major boulevard was suggested by the first president of the Parks Board, August R. Meyer (1851–1905), based on the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City.[2] In 2019 the Paseo was renamed to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd[3] by the city council after which petitions to subject the change to a citywide vote were submitted.[4] A vote to rename the boulevard back to The Paseo passed on November 5, 2019.[5]


Kansas City's extensive parkway and boulevard system is part of the City Beautiful Movement. The Paseo parkway is modeled on the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City; from which it takes its name.[6] From its start at Cliff Drive, the original alignment changed to install the on-ramp to Interstate 35, it curves slightly southwest before heading almost due south for most of its length. A few city parks are located adjacent to The Paseo, such as Parade Park (Truman Road & The Paseo) and Troost Park (31st Street & The Paseo).

The parkway was laid out in the early 1900s by George Kessler under the direction of August Robert Meyer, first president of the Commission of Parks. The Paseo, conceived as a series of small parks, extended through a former slum area and contained intersections that featured a formal sunken garden, a pergola, and large fountains reminiscent of those at Versailles.[7][8][9] Its construction was preceded by the eviction of African-American families that had to move to other overcrowded slums.[10]:16–17 Its northern end acquired an unsavory reputation during the early 1920s owing to the spread of prostitution, gambling and narcotics in the area.[10]:20 In the 1920s, with the re-emergence of the African-American population in the surrounding areas, the Paseo stood out as "ribbon of white in an otherwise black village", with more than half the white population living in the area having a Paseo address.[10]:45

The Paseo intersects with US 71, US 40, I-70, US 24, and US 56. The Christopher S. Bond Bridge (which replaced the defunct Paseo Bridge in 2010) features direct north–south access onto the road via exit-entrance ramps. Trucks are prohibited from using the Paseo.

Points of interest along The Paseo

Sites named after The Paseo

See also


  1. Kansas City, Missouri Parks & Recreation, 2008 Reference Book, "Parkways," p. 24. Archived 2009-03-25 at the Wayback Machine
  2. "Inventory - Nomination form: 1016 The Paseo" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places. U.S. National Park Service. March 10, 1978. p. 7. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  3. After months of delay, Kansas City Council renames The Paseo for Martin Luther King, The Kansas City Star, January 24, 2019.
  4. Save the Paseo Petition Officially Filed The Northeast News, April 26th, 2019.
  5. Kansas City votes to change Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard back to The Paseo Fox 4 KC November 5th, 2019.
  6. Isaacson, Darlene (2003). Kansas City In Vintage Postcards. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. p. 84. ISBN 978-0738531793.
  7. Scott, Mel (1972). American City Planning Since 1890. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0520020511.
  8. Tishler, William H. (2004). Midwestern Landscape Architecture. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. p. 105. ISBN 978-0252072147.
  9. Haskell, Harry (2007). Boss-busters and Sin Hounds: Kansas City and Its Star. Columbia: University of Missouri Press. pp. 52, 56, 60–2, 72, 75–7. ISBN 978-0826217691.
  10. Sherry Lamb Schirmer (2002). A City Divided: The Racial Landscape of Kansas City, 1900-1960. University of Missouri Press. ISBN 978-0-8262-1391-4.

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