Tearing down the Troost Wall: Students, long-time residents call Troostwood neighborhood home

Kate Baxendale

The Troostwood neighborhood is home to many UMKC and Rockhurst students.

Located between Troost Avenue, The Paseo, Volker Boulevard and Rockhurst’s campus, this area shares the stigma of crime and neglect that plagues many neighborhoods east of Troost.

Those who have negative opinions of this area usually have never set foot on the other side of the Troost Wall.

Since becoming a resident the summer of 2011, I have come to appreciate my neighborhood’s historic beauty. Troostwood was born in the early 20th century around the time the Plaza was developed.

Many homes in this neighborhood are surrounded by beautiful stone retaining walls, and many feature exquisite exterior detailing and architectural accents. Beautiful paned windows and stained glass can be admired from the outside, while beautiful woodwork and crystal chandeliers adorn the inside. Most houses are well-maintained and have undergone remodeling and restoration, although rent is significantly less than comparable neighborhoods west of Troost.

The homes come in a variety of styles and sizes, and the neighborhood has become  one of the most diverse in Kansas City.

Troostwood was home to a strong middle class and a number of thriving businesses until the area suffered a stifling economic decline in the 1970s and ’80s. It was during this time that the stigma of Troost Avenue serving as a dividing line between both race and class was intensified.

In the 1990s, Troostwood fought to revive its attributes. A dedicated team of local politicians, community agencies and residents invested time and money to restore the neighborhood to the condition it is in today.

For me, Troostwood is a safe haven bustling with college students. During the day, the quiet residential streets are filled with students walking to and from the two campuses.

I often pass the same people every morning. As  my neighbor heads home from his 10 a.m. class, I am on my way to my 11 a.m. class.

Increased police presence in surrounding high-crime areas has helped reduce violent crime and has made Troostwood one of Kansas City’s safest urban neighborhoods.

Although the occasional gunshot can be heard in the distance, I have noticed a steady decrease in the occurrence of these startling blasts in the years that I have been a Troostwood resident.

With the efforts of the Kansas City Walkability Plan and the Troost Corridor Action Plan, new sidewalks have made the neighborhood more pedestrian-friendly, a much-appreciated improvement for students.

The influx of student residents has been a positive change for Troostwood, and its close proximity to UMKC and Rockhurst ensures that young people will continue to proudly call the neighborhood home.

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