It’s been more than 30 years since Union Hill was given a facelift.
For those familiar with how the Union Hill revival came to be, it first began when President Ronald Reagan was in office. The transformation would then take about three decades to shape up.
In the end, a rundown 19th century neighborhood turned into a thriving node of new and renovated apartments and single-family homes.
It turns out a curious Kansas Citian by the name of Bill Taft lives in one of those homes built in 1985.
“What did Union Hill look like before everything was torn down?” Taft asked, specifically wondering about the areas near Main and 30th streets.
Before we get to the “show” portion of this show-and-tell, here’s the abbreviated “tell” on how the development plan unfolded.
In the 1970s through early ‘80s, city leaders and developers grew concerned as, right down the street, Crown Center began to boom in stark contrast to the old Union Hill neighborhood.
The area was first established in the late 1890s with ornate Victorian-style homes. But from the 1940s through 1960s, crumbling buildings and blight set in.
As former Kansas City Star reporter Kevin Collison wrote, “the late-19th-century housing stock of the neighborhood was in bad shape.”
So Bob Frye and his brother, with the assistance of city-approved tax incentives, began their journey to revitalize “the heart of the neighborhood — one of Kansas City’s oldest,” as the late Kansas City Business Journal reporter Rob Roberts wrote in 2014.
Now it’s time for the show. Take a virtual tour of Victorian-era Union Hill and the neighborhood’s evolution. The majority of the images below were provided by Kansas City Public Library’s Missouri Valley Special Collections with additional information provided by Kansas City Business Journal, the Kansas City Star, Midtown KC Post and archived news clips.
A Union Hill Slideshow
Vicky Diaz-Camacho covers community affairs for Kansas City PBS.
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