March 24, 2009

Historic Downtown Overland Park, KS

Since I spend so much time on the road, I thought it might be nice to take a very short trip to a place nearby. I pass the historic downtown area of Overland Park every day but I never really stop to look at it.

A little geographical explanation - the Kansas City metro area spreads across the Kansas and Missouri state border and includes several small cities, towns and suburbs. Overland Park, or the OP as it is commonly referred to, is in the south part of the metro area.

It was late Sunday afternoon and the streets were empty except for the occasional car passing through. There was no one in the Farmer's Market or eating in the restaurants along the street. It gave me a chance to observe that all of the historical monuments - the clocktower plaza and the statue of Overland Park founder William B. Strang, Jr. - are all new contributions. The historic downtown seems to be more of a modern embracing of the past but there doesn't seem to be much left of the past that they're embracing. The restaurant and buildings look newer, the only particularly ancient-looking building is the very retro Rio Movie Theater.

The first place I stopped along the historic street was the clocktower plaza, a large covered sitting area with a giant clocktower next to the Farmer's Market. I found it somewhat confusing in its architectural design. The sloping roofs seem to be more Eastern-inspired than an appropriate homage to Overland Park's actual sister city of Bietingheim-Bissingen, Germany.

A few steps away from the clocktower plaza is a large statue of William B. Strang, Jr, Overland Park's founder. Like the clocktower, this seems to be a belated homage to the past. The statue was erected in May 2006. The city founder and railroad magnate looks out of the empty streets sternly but blankly, like he is passively observing everything. He seems to be judging us as he is frozen with one foot forward, like he is ready to take action, but his face does not betray his motivation.

My visit to the Historic Downtown of Overland Park was a quiet trip, but I don't think I really gained anything "historical" about Overland Park from my visit. I plan to go back next month when the Farmer's Market is open, maybe a few people will make my next visit more interesting.

Total Travel Distance: 18 miles
Total Travel Time: 40 minutes
Soundtrack: "Sexless Demons and Scars" - Jack Off Jill

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