Why are Kansas towns so pretty?


Yesterday I wrote about our visit to wonderful Riverside Park in beautiful Independence, Kansas. All along our route we noticed well-kept, attractive towns.

Ottawa has a picture perfect courthouse and a well preserved Main Street. (A 1999 series in the Ottawa Herald indicates concerns about their downtown, but it appears that the community has acted to save what they have.)

Garnett is another town with an intact Main Street and tree-lined residential streets.

Lawrence is set beautifully on hills overlooking the Kansas River. Massachusetts Avenue is the main drag -- a bustling Main Street serving both town and gown.

Here's an observation and a question: I am a proud Oklahoman, and yet I can't help but notice a quality and pride in these Kansas towns that I don't see in towns of similar size in Oklahoma. These Kansas towns seem to be surviving and thriving, while many similar towns in Oklahoma are on the wane, with Main Streets falling into disrepair, storefronts vacant or filled with sub-optimal uses and public spaces showing signs of neglect. The pride I've observed in Kansas I've also seen in many parts of Texas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Arkansas, and Illinois. What accounts for the difference? I have some theories, but I'd love to see some of your ideas first.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 28, 2003 1:12 AM.

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