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Cliff Drive
Cliff Drive
TitleCliff Drive
DescriptionPostcard of Cliff Drive
Historical ArticleThe cliffs along the south bluff of the Missouri River in northeast Kansas City were a challenge to George E. Kessler, early-day landscape architect and city planner. His dream was to develop Kansas City's natural terrain and rugged beauty. His plan was for great boulevards encircling the city.

Kessler had the backing of the 1899-1900 Board of Park Commissioners, appointed under article 10 of the city charter adopted Feb. 27, 1892. They were August R. Meyer, president; Adriance Van Brunt, William Barton, James K. Burnham, Robert Gillham and J. V. C. Karnes.

By 1900 the first section of Cliff Drive was completed and opened to the public. Its rugged course meandered through the wooded hills of the 308-acre North Terrace Park, Kansas City's second largest park at the time. The area abounded with dogwood, redbud, wild blackberry, gooseberry and hawthorn. Foxes, deer, opossums and raccoons roamed the area. Early pictures show the tremendous job accomplished by laborers with pick and shovel and with horse and mule equipment in constructing the road.

When completed, Cliff Drive was treated regularly by horse-drawn water sprinklers to settle the dust. Later, oiling improved the road surface and helped protect it from freezing and thawing.

The lighting of Cliff Drive was a major improvement. Natural gas lights, installed in 1908, were spaced 100 feet apart for the length of the drive and its approaches.

During the first years after its completion Cliff Drive was used only by horse and buggy traffic. Automobiles were forbidden by city ordinance, lest they frighten the horses and endanger lives on the high scenic drive.

Today North Terrace Park is George E. Kessler Park, little enough honor to the originator of Kansas City's boulevard plans. In a letter to the park board Kessler wrote: We are charged with the duty of developing a plan that shall not only meet present, but future wants.

The photographic post card in black and white published by the North American Post Card Company, Kansas City, was mailed from Rosedale, Kan., to Arthur Nohden, Chapman, Kan., in 1910 with a one-cent stamp.

Kansas City Times
January 18, 1980

AuthorRay, Mrs. Sam (Mildred)
Item TypePostcard
CollectionMrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection (SC58)
See finding aid: http://localhistory.kclibrary.org/u?/Local,36981
Local SubjectCliff Drive
Digital FormatJPEG
RepositoryMissouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri
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