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Street Names by Bill Worley PDF  | Print |

November 1981 Hyde Parker, reprinted with the permis sion of the author.

In the Hyde Park neighborhood not all the east-west streets measure the distance south from the River at Main Street—Linwood and Armour Boulevards are notable exceptions—and all of the north-south streets except one carries a bit of Kansas City or Hyde Park history in its label.

Linwood Boulevard was named in 1893, when George E. Kessler laid out the parks and boulevard system. He included a portion of what the City of Westport called Linwood Road (though sometimes spelled it "Lynwood") in the boulevard planned to connect North Terrace Park with Penn Valley Park. This first portion of Linwood Boulevard included only the present portion between the Paseo on the west and Benton Boulevard on the east—a distance of less than ten blocks.

Armour Boulevard was originally known as "Commonwealth" in old Westport. Then Kessler included that portion running from the Paseo on the east to Broadway on the west in his proposed system as "South Boulevard." As the street was being widened and surfaced in 1899, one of the first members of the Board of Commissioners of Parks and Boulevards, S.B. Armour of the packing company, died. To commemorate his memory the Board renamed South Boulevard as "Armour Boulevard." While two of his nephews and one niece lived on the roadway at the time, S.B. Armour never lived on the street that would bear his name; he still resided on Quality Hill at his death.

Gillham Road is also part of the parks and boulevard system, though it is a later addition to the plan. By 1900, seven years after Kessler had laid out the initial scheme, Westport was officially a part of Kansas City after its second annexation in 1897. Westport´s most outspoken citizen, William Rockhill Nelson of the Star lobbied strenuously for more boulevards in or near his real estate holdings around where the Nelson Gallery is located today. Whether the extension from Oak at about 21st to 47th Streets was projected by the Park Commissioners simply to keep the editor off their backs or to elaborate on Kessler's rather Spartan initial plan is not clear.

What is plain, however, is that Robert Gillham Road was built so that its right-of-way south of 39th street would include all of an old creek bed and form a substantial barrier to encroaching smaller homes from the east (south Hyde Park). As a result, Nelson went ahead with his development scheme for his Rockhill neighborhood which, in turn, served as a pattern for J.C. Nichols' later development of the Country Club district to the south and west across Brush Creek.

Gillahm Road was named for Robert Gillham, another early park commissioner, who, like Armour, died in 1899. Gillham had been the primary engineer who designed the first cable car system for Kansas City in the 1880s. The capstone of this cable road system was a long, sloping inclined plane built of wood scaffolding which ran down 9th street from the bluffs of Quality Hill onto a platform connected to old Union Station, then located a few blocks from the Stockyards in the west bottoms. The naming of the roadway was more to honor his Park Board service than his engineering prowess.