Tuesday, February 26, 2008


A wonderful story in Sunday's Kansas City Star inspired me to investigate the Quindaro area of Kansas City, Kansas. I'd known of the town's history as a beacon of black independence, but I'd never heard of Western University.

The Star's feature prepared me for Quindaro's decrepit condition, but it was still shocking to see the extent of the decay. This weathered sign bears witness to the area's unfillfilled promise.

I really wanted to see the ruins so ignored this "no tresspassing" notice. Although the area seemed completely abandoned, I half expected to see a team of archeologists working at the site.

Two clearly agitated policemen jumped out of their car as I admired this scenic overlook. They stared me down and seemed annoyed by my apologetic wave. But instead of hassling me, they ran into a nearby abandoned building.

One of the creepiest structures I've encountered, it's an ideal location for a climatic scene in a horror movie. And based on the policemen's behavior, I'm guessing that bad stuff regularly goes down here. I'm not easily frightened, but I began to realize that I was putting myself in harm's way. I didn't shake the willies until I navigated back to Quindaro Boulevard thirty minutes later.

The policemen sped off without talking to me. I sensed that they made a mental note to recover my bullet-riddled body later that day. I began to feel sorry for this battered sculpture of John Brown.

The Star notes that it's "all that's left" of Western University. These two close shots don't really tell the story.

A wider angle photograph more accurately depicts the area's status.

This informative site claims that this historic building is a "community center," but it sure looks abandoned to me.

The Star notes that much of the area's history now lies beneath 635.

I couldn't locate the Quindaro cemetary. I'll call this number before my next visit; I'd love a guided tour.

I explored the area's side streets. It has a rustic feel reminiscent of the Ozarks.

While many of the buildings have official "not fit for habitation" notices posted on them, a handful of hardy souls apparently reside in the hills. And they own horses.

Sadly, the area also serves as a dumping ground. It's a tragically symbolic image of Quindaro's unrealized potential.