The Westside is known for its diverse community, eclectic boutiques, and gourmet food and drinks, but did you know that it is home to plenty of lively and historic parks?
Mulkey Square Park, West 13th Street & Summit Street
Cruising down I-35 offers quite a peculiar sight: a giant floating cow. Bob (or “Bull on Building”) the Hereford isn’t actually a magical flying bovine; rather, he rests atop a 90-foot pedestal in Mulkey Square Park. Weighing in at a hefty 5,500 pounds, Bob originally resided outside the American Hereford Association Headquarters in the Quality Hill neighborhood. Bob is the product of Robert Manos, an associate architect for the American Hereford Association. Manos dreamed up the 20-foot long Hereford bull, and Bob was born in 1954. When the Hereford Association moved to a new location in 1997, Bob was moved to storage – where he remained for nearly 15 years. Finally in 2002, Bob escaped his long confine and found himself a new home on the west terrace of Mulkey Square Park.
The park takes its name from the original settler of the Westside himself, Mr. William K. Mulkey. He was a horse and Indian trader, and he and his wife, Catherine Drips, built the first brick home atop the bluffs in 1857. Alongside Bob and a busy baseball diamond, the picturesque, lush park resounds with the legacy of Mr. Mulkey, who also platted and sold land to virtually create the bluff-top neighborhood. Mulkey and Drips also donated part of that land for Kansas City, Mo.’s very first park at 16th Street between Belleview Avenue and Jarboe Street.
Jarboe Park, 17th Street and West Jarboe Street
Now home to a small ballpark and a colorful playground, Jarboe Park, located near 17th and Jarboe Streets, is more than 100 years old. Like many parks in the area, its namesake derives from one of the founding families of the Town of Kansas. Joseph Jarboe moved to the Town of Kansas with his wife, Lydia Ann, in 1834. At the time, the area consisted of only about 250 residents, most of French descent. The family built their first home the old-fashioned way – from logs — near what is now 18th and Madison Streets. The two lovebirds had 16 children together over the years. The large family owned 80 acres of the Town of Kansas. Within this land, you’ll now find Jarboe Street and Jarboe Park. Kansas City acquired the land for Jarboe Park in 1904. The 4.33-acre park debuted with a small playground, shelter and even a wading pool. In the 1950s, the original shelter and wading pool were torn out and replaced with a new public swimming pool. In 2011, the city built a brand-spanking new playground.
Andrew Drips Park, 16th Street and Jarboe Street
Named after Andrew Drips, a well-known fur trader with various fur companies in the Midwest, the park proudly displays a monument of limestone and granite depicting Drips alongside his wife, Mary. The sculpture pays tribute one of Kansas City’s first residents of the Kansas City. A Pennsylvania native, Drips meandered to St. Louis, Mo. in 1817. Developing a successful fur trade, Drips moved on over to a new Town of Kansas in the early 1840s with Mary, who was of the Oto Nation. Drips’ name appears on some of the earliest known maps of the area. In 1882, Mr. Drips’ daughter, Catherine Drips Mulkey, and her husband, William K. Mulkey, gifted the city a lot of .162 acres. This land became the city’s first public park. The park’s original name was Westport Prospect Triangle; in 1951 the name officially changed to the Andrew Drips Park.
The following inscribes the Drips Monument:
Celebrated in the fur trade of the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains. Catherine, daughter by his wife, Mary, of the Oto Nation, was born at the Historic Battle of Pierre’s Hole, July 18, 1832. Kansas City was their home from 1839.
Observation Park, West 20th Street & Holly Street
Observation Park provides Kansas Citians a fantastic view of the city skyline. Whether by day, as the sunlight glistens on the Kauffman Center, or by night, the city shining, it is truly breathtaking. Originally called Gaston Park, the area held a reservoir containing an impressive 8 million gallons of water for the West Bottoms, just down the hill. Kansas City’s Fire and Water Commission utilized the modest four-and-a-half acres, while a public park arose next to the reservoir. In 1909, renowned Kansas City architect Van Brunt erected a bandstand and comfort station.
Unfortunately, this bandstand faced a bleak future – destroyed by vandals and rebuilt three time within its 20 year lifespan, any plans of rebuilding again were abandoned by the city. In 1953, the reservoir was packed with dirt, planted and replaced by a baseball diamond.
Westside Community Gardens
The Westside revolves around its thriving, diverse community. The Westside Community Action Network on Jefferson Street is an organization striving to create a safe, fun and community driven neighborhood for its residents. As an effort to further unite the Westside denizens, the WestCAN group facilitated a large community garden on 20th Street, a previously vacant lot prone to heaps of illegal dumping. The lovely green garden boasts 30 plots, and local families are allowed to grow a variety of veggies or fruits – from leafy spinach to carrots, to watermelon and pungent herbs. Oftentimes, chickens are likely to be seen clucking and picking their way about the garden.
The Westside is friendly to all communities — hundreds of butterflies dot the neighborhood with brightly colored wings. The Monarch Waystation #1750, located just outside the Westside CAN building, attracts the tangerine-winged beauties with butterfly-friendly plants such as Swamp Milkweeds and Mexican Sunflowers. These gardens bring splendor and strong community ties within the eclectic Westside.