September 8, 2009

Giant Sewing Needle and Button - Kansas City, MO

My first attempt to find the giant sewing needle and button in Kansas City almost turned into a disaster but my second attempt, as you can see, was quite successful. I had assumed from the description of giant sewing paraphernalia that something like this would be easy to find. That's not the case. They actually blend into the urban surroundings quite well and are located in a small plaza so it isn't easily visible from the main streets. It's something you have to really be looking for and I can't really say the effort is entirely worth it.

The steel sculpture was erected in 2002 in the urban park to remind people about the history of Kansas City's garment district. While it may be a reminder, it is not particularly awe-inspiring. At about 19 feet tall, it is not the largest needle or button in the world. It isn't even the largest such commemoration of a garment district. In the Fashion District of New York City at W. 39th St. and Seventh Avenue, you can find a much larger button and needle. It marks the Fashion Center Information Kiosk. Built in 1995, the sculpture has a 31' long needle and the world's largest button. Comparatively, the Kansas City version is dwarfed both in size and appeal.

As far as the park goes, it is more of an open concrete space than anything I would traditionally consider a park. Beyond the fountain, a few trees and a bit of shrubbery, it seems more like a place you would sit to grab a quick lunch then really linger for any extended period of time.

The district was placed in the historic registry in 1973. The urban park is meant to be a reminder of the garment industry's glory days as an important part of Kansas City's development. But the structure is not very informational. There's not much to learn about the history of the garment industry beyond a few plaques with some names and dates. Not being familiar with the garment industry, those names didn't really resonate with me as to who they were or what they might have done. To really learn something, you would need to make an appointment with the Historic Garment District Museum located at 801 Broadway. The museum is only open by appointment.

Total Trip Time: 45 minutes
Total Travel Distance: 44 miles
Soundtrack: "Rockferry" Duffy



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