PhotosbyRaVen's avatar

Union Ave and Union Depot 1902

239 Favourites
24 Comments
1K Views
Kansas City’s West Bottoms, on Union Avenue looking easterly towards the Union Deport railroad station. I created this rendering from an original photo. The colors are suggestive and “not“ historically correct, but are intended to enhance spectator visual experience and ambiance. Circa 1902. My family arrived in Kansas City (Kansas, Wyandotte County and Missouri, Jackson County) working in the West Bottoms through the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. And my art is intended to share their world during this period when the Union Depot was the City’s primary railroad station (1878 -1914).

At the right forefront of the rendering is “Dick’s Bros. Brewery” that was on the corner of Union Avenue and Mulberry Street ( the freight side was on 1300 W. 10th street and Mulberry ). Also, I discovered a window washer standing on a scaffold ( to the left of the building entrance). Dick Brother’s home was Quincey, Illinois, and became the first “out of town” brewer to arrive in Kansas City. Completion of the Hannibal bridge (1st of 17 bridges crossing the Missouri River - 1869 ) and major Railroad development created financial opportunities that encouraged Dick Brother’s and many other industries to expand beyond their local communities.

As Union Avenue curves, once stood the Union Depot Railroad Station. Standing like an imposing "384 ft.long" brick wall, it’s many office windows dominated the landscape. Deemed a sprawling monstrosity during it’s construction, by 1890 regional population and service demands exceeded station resources. In this photo, the south end / express offices of the station are visible. The signs of the original photo were blurred and otherwise obscured. From a previous photo showing the opposite side of the building (platform - yard) , “2” signs were visible; “EXPRESS” and “ PACIFIC UN.” I took the liberty of using them to emphasis that portion of the structure. Again for aesthetics and not strictly historical accuracy.


On the horizon is Quality Hill perched like a throne atop the West Bluffs, once a neighborhood of mansions and wealth prior to heavy industrialization from the West Bottoms. Those of position and affluence left, whilst their homes are converted for commercial use. By 1890 large ugly billboards replaced the terraced landscapes. In the center, is Hell’s Half Acre, with a predominately African neighborhood. The community increased significantly during completion of the Union Depot, also suggesting that migration corresponded with the Exodusters movement throughout the Panic of 1873. From Union Avenue, journalist described the neighborhood as a “shanty town”, structures comprised of salvaged and improvised materials. Then in 1892, the “City Beautification” axe fell, as the City used eminent domain to reclaim the Bluffs. A highly controversial court battle ensued through the lower courts. Eventually the Missouri Supreme Court (1896 -1898) upheld the previous ruling compensating claimants identified and entitled in 1896. But, "no" alternatives or possibilities for future compensation are allowed for anyone not already named. Unfortunately the well publicized court decision was ignored by some. Payments began in 1900. The West Bluff was forcibly cleared of “squatters” during August 1904. Afterwards work began building the West Terrace Park to properly showcase KC to arriving railroad passengers. The “Taxpayer’s League” fought strenuously against such expensive tax dollar improvements, after all the railroad station was abandoning the West Bottoms.

On May 31st, 1903 a devastating flood ended future capital improvements for the Depot, as plans for building the new Union Station began. The Depot also survived the 1908 flood, but thereafter, people commonly described the structure becoming “dingy”. The last scheduled train departs on October 31st 1914. A farewell Halloween party closed the Depot hosting a celebratory “36” year goodbye. The Depot was razed in early in 1915, eventually followed by much of the Avenue. Had Union Depot survived the wrecking ball then, the 1951 flood would certainly have submerged the old station again. Fate and nature decided the outcome. 

~R.
IMAGE DETAILS
Image size
4000x3203px 5.39 MB
Published:
© 2019 - 2020 PhotosbyRaVen
Comments21
anonymous's avatar
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
gabimendes's avatar
gabimendesProfessional Digital Artist
wooooowww!! I don't have words to express how wonderful this is!  
PhotosbyRaVen's avatar
PhotosbyRaVenProfessional Photographer
I really appreciate your reponse. Thank you🎩
Olga17's avatar
Olga17Hobbyist Photographer
Wonderful!Huggle! 
PhotosbyRaVen's avatar
PhotosbyRaVenProfessional Photographer
Thank you🎩
Olga17's avatar
Olga17Hobbyist Photographer
You are welcome! next wave remake by nillemotes  
Aforestare's avatar
AforestareHobbyist General Artist
It's Scenic.
PhotosbyRaVen's avatar
PhotosbyRaVenProfessional Photographer
I really wanted to convey the experience of walking about Union Ave., towards the Union Depot. Thanks🎩
Aforestare's avatar
AforestareHobbyist General Artist
You're welcome.
PhotosbyRaVen's avatar
PhotosbyRaVenProfessional Photographer
Thank you 🎩
wawyyyy's avatar
wawyyyyHobbyist Artist
cool
PhotosbyRaVen's avatar
PhotosbyRaVenProfessional Photographer
Thanks. Please visit often, more to come 🎩
wawyyyy's avatar
wawyyyyHobbyist Artist
All right :D
JacobPotts1836's avatar
JacobPotts1836Hobbyist General Artist
Nice!
PhotosbyRaVen's avatar
PhotosbyRaVenProfessional Photographer
Thank you🎩
Pisiprens's avatar
PisiprensProfessional Digital Artist
Cool I like it. 
EpicheDraws's avatar
EpicheDrawsHobbyist Digital Artist
The attention to detail tho o.o
PhotosbyRaVen's avatar
PhotosbyRaVenProfessional Photographer
Thank you. Exploring the original photo, I was able to recover many details that became obscured. The posters tacked to a utility pole and window washer on the scaffolding give a glimpse into Union Avenue street life. 🎩
CreeperEndie's avatar
CreeperEndieHobbyist Photographer
Amazing! ^^
L-MASTER's avatar
L-MASTERHobbyist Artist
Great work
PhotosbyRaVen's avatar
PhotosbyRaVenProfessional Photographer
Thank you 🎩
anonymous's avatar
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In