Natural and Cultural Features of Kansas City, Part 7: West Bottoms

West of downtown, in the river floodplain at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, was the early industrial heartland of Kansas City. Following the construction of railroad bridges across the Missouri River, the businesses that established here were most railroad-related, providing manufacturing and warehouse space for goods that were available across the western United States.

Riverfront Heritage Trail is a 15-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail connecting Berkley Riverfront Park of Port KC (N39⁰7’5” W94⁰34’20”), City Market (N39⁰6’35” W94⁰34’57”), Westside (N39⁰5’15” W94⁰35’34”), Huron Park in Kansas City Kansas (N39⁰6’51” W94⁰37’31”), and the West Bottoms (N39⁰6’35” W94⁰36’50”). The trail continues in Kansas City, Kansas, as Jersey Creek Trail from 5th Street (N39⁰7’24” W94⁰37’18”) west to Westheight Park (N39⁰7’24” W94⁰39’41”). The trailhead at 8th Street and Madison Avenue (N39o6’22” W94o35’41”) provides access to the Lewis and Clark Viaduct, which the trail follows across the Kansas River. Exhibits at the trailhead describe the Western U.S. transcontinental rail routes and the role of Kansas City. Kansas City was the beginning of the Kansas-Pacific route via Denver. Competing was the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad route via Albuquerque. Also at the trailhead is the Exodus Family public art exhibit, describing a hypothetical group of slaves crossing the West Bottoms on their way to the free state of Kansas. An electric vehicle charging station completes the trailhead.

Near the trailhead are two buildings on the National Register.

  • Faultless Starch Company Building, 1025 West 8th Street between Madison and Santa Fe Streets in the West Bottoms (N39o6’19” W94o35’44”), dates to 1903. The company still operates at the building today. Faultless Starch Company grew to be one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of dry white starch. The company was helped in its marketing by attaching primers for learning to read to its products in Texas and by hiring Huey P. Long as a salesman in the Southeastern States. This was prior to his more famous career as governor of Louisiana.
  • Sewell Paint and Glass Company Building, 1009 West 8th Street between Santa Fe Street and Madison Avenue in the West Bottoms (N39o6’20” W94o35’43”), dates to 1903. The 5-story brick building with Romanesque Revival features was the home of one of the major manufacturers and distributors of industrial paints, varnishes, and lacquers in the early 20th Today it is the Faultless Event Space.

A spur of the Riverfront Heritage Trail begins at North James Street (N39o6’38” W94o36’52”) and connects to the trail just east of the Lewis and Clark Viaduct. The trail is managed by Kansas City River Trails, Inc. ( The trail passes adjacent to the West Bottoms-North Historic District.

West Bottoms-North Historic District (N39o6’10” W94o36’15”) consists of buildings dating to 1880. The buildings are brick, from one to seven stories. This area became a hub of activity after the completion of the Hannibal Bridge in 1869, which funneled railroad traffic to the floodplain at the junction of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. The district reflects the growth of Kansas City as a manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution center in the late 19th and early 20th century. Kansas City began as a hub for wholesale and warehousing since it was an outfitter for the western trails. It continued in these roles as a railroad hub. The area was devastated by, but recovered from, disastrous floods in 1903 and 1951.

West 9th Street buildings in the historic district:

  • Kemper-Paxton Mercantile Company, 1427 West 9th Street, dating to 1901
  • Abernathy Furniture Company, 1501-1523 West 9th Street, 910-912 Liberty Street, and 915-925 Wyoming Street, dating to between 1880 and 1917, now the West Bottoms Flats

St. Louis Avenue buildings in the historic district:

  • Fire Insurance Patrol No. 2, 1310 St. Louis Avenue, dating to 1890
  • Police Station No. 2, 1312 St. Louis Avenue, dating to 1901
  • Samuel Freeman Livery, 1316 St. Louis Avenue, dating to 1880
  • Seavey and Florsheim, 1317 St. Louis Avenue, dating to 1902
  • Multi-tenant building, 1321 St. Louis Avenue, dating to 1909
  • Bliss Syrup and Preserving Company, 1329 St. Louis Avenue, dating to 1897, now Rangel Distributing
  • Sherwin-Williams Paint Company, 1400 St. Louis Avenue, dating to 1903, now Dynatron Elevator, Inc.
  • Swift and Company, 1401 St. Louis Avenue, dating to 1888
  • 1404 St. Louis Avenue, dating to 1967
  • Security Building, 1405 St. Louis Avenue, dating to 1909, now occupied by Cook Brothers Insulation
  • McManus-Heryer Brokerage, 1408 St. Louis Avenue, dating to 1922
  • Biggs and Koch Company, 1415 St. Louis Avenue, dating to 1885, now occupied by Cook Brothers Insulation
  • Newby Transfer and Storage, 1422 St. Louis Avenue, dating to1900
  • Trumbull and Company, 1426 St. Louis Avenue and 925 Liberty Street, dating to 1899
  • Ryley, Wilson and Company, a Romanesque Revival grocery warehouse, 1502 St. Louis Avenue, dating to 1887
  • Bayles Vehicle Top and Trimming Company, 1522 St. Louis Avenue, dating to 1903, now operating as the Wood Lot
  • Hogue Mercantile Company, 1600 St. Louis Avenue, dating to 1930

Union Avenue buildings in the historic district:

  • G. Peppard Seed Company, 1400 Union Avenue, dating to 1889, now Doc’s Caboose
  • Geiser Manufacturing, 1408 Union Avenue, dating to 1900

Wyoming Street buildings in the historic district:

  • Imperial Casket Company, 920 Wyoming Street, dating to 1928, now TRX Great Lakes
  • Bemis Brothers Bag Company, 921 and 937 Wyoming Street, dating from 1904 and 1920, respectively
  • Dehoney Hay and Grain Company, 938 Wyoming Street, dating to 1913

Other West Bottoms buildings outside the historic district are on 12th Street, Hickory Street, Mulberry Street and Union Avenue.

  • Ridenour-Baker Grocery Company, 933 Mulberry Street, bounded by Mulberry Street, St. Louis Avenue, Santa Fe Street, and Union Avenue in the West Bottoms (N39o6’10” W94o35’56”), is separately listed on the NRHP and is adjacent to the historic district; it dates to 1910. The building was a commercial office and warehouse property and was an early example of reinforced concrete construction. The company was a wholesale distribution business that operated in the West Bottoms beginning in 1858 and continuing until 1936. In addition to wholesaling, the company also manufactured and packaged coffee, spices and peanuts. It sold products under the label FFOG, for First Fruit of the Garden.
  • A. Murdock Manufacturing Company Building, 1225 Union Avenue at Mulberry (N39o6’8” W94o35’58”), dates to 1887. The building is significant for its contribution to the expansion of the railroad freighting industry in Kansas City. The Romanesque Revival building was built for a company that manufactured and distributed coffee, tea, and spices. Due to a sprinkler system, it was the only building in the vicinity to survive a devastating 1918 fire. It operates today as the Murdock Lofts.
  • Perfection Stove Company Building, 1200 Union Avenue at Santa Fe Street (N39o6’10” W94o35’55”), dates to 1919. It is listed on the National Register as an intact example of the commercial distribution office and warehouse associated with the railroad-related historic resources of Kansas City. The Cleveland Metal Products Company built the building as a warehouse and regional distribution center for its line of oil stoves and heaters. Perfection Oil Cook Stove was the company’s signature product. The building is currently vacant. To the east of the Perfection Stove Company building was the site of Union Depot. A historic marker on Union Avenue near Forrester Road describes the train station, which opened in 1878 and connected the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroads. It was the largest building west of New York at the time it opened; it featured a clock tower 125 feet high. Over 180 trains per day arrived. It was nearly destroyed with the 1903 flood; it was replaced in 1914 with present-day Union Station on Pershing Road.
  • Crane Company Building, 1105 Hickory Street in the West Bottoms (N39o6’5” W94o36’4”), dates to 1905. The six-story building is listed because of its association with the railroad freight industry in Kansas City. It was designed by Louis Curtiss. From 1905 to 1951, the building was occupied by the Crane Company as a warehouse, used for storing industrial grade plumbing supplies used in water treatment and the power industry. It also housed valves and fittings for the rail and airline industry. According to an article in Fortune, July 1936, “you can’t run a railroad or build a dam, operate a paper mill or lay a sewer, dig an oil well or heat a hospital, or launch a battleship or even take a shower without using one of the more than 40,000-odd products that are made by Crane Company.” The building is currently occupied by Tekki Web Design, Blue Bands Apparel, Christina Koski Art, and Christ the King Church, an independent Catholic parish.Creamery Package Manufacturing Company Building, 1408 West 12th Street, West Bottoms (N39o6’4” W94o36’7”), dates to 1886. The four-story, Romanesque Revival style building featured spaces for offices, machinery, and warehousing. The building is significant in commerce, related to the Kansas City railroad freight industry. The building was the first branch office for the Chicago-based Creamery Package Manufacturing Company, which occupied the building from 1887 to 1895 and from 1921-1964. The company manufactured containers for dairy products—creameries, cheese factories, milk dealers, ice cream, refrigeration, and egg cases. A fire in 1895 caused the company to leave. It then rented the building to other railroad-related businesses before returning in 1921. In 1964, the company was sold to St. Regis Pulp and Paper Corporation. The building is currently occupied by Fillmore Vintage, selling antique clothing and furniture.

    Albert Marty Building, 1412 West 12th Street, West Bottoms (N39o6’4” W94o36’8”), dates to 1886. The five-story Romanesque Revival style structure was built by a real estate developer and was first occupied by agricultural implement companies. These were the first companies to arrive in the West Bottoms when it became a railroad hub. By 1878, Kansas City dominated the agricultural implement market. From 1914 to 1961, the Gustin-Bacon Manufacturing Company, a supplier to rail and automotive industries, occupied the building. The company produced pipefittings, valves, rubber hosing, and fiberglass including insulation. It was said that every railroad relied on their products in the 1950s. It is currently occupied by an antiques business.

  • Charles Frances Adams Jr. Building, 1311 West 13th Street, West Bottoms (N39o5’58” W94o36’2”), dates to 1894. The 5-story, Commercial Style, Two-Part Vertical Block building is between Hickory and Mulberry Streets. The building served agriculturally related companies as warehouse space and manufacturing. It was adjacent to railroads that could ship goods throughout the West and Southwest. The first occupant was the Buford and George Manufacturing Company, which made the Browne Sulky Plow. This plow was popular because it could be ridden on instead of walking behind a team of horses. The company also manufactured saddles and harnesses and horse-related supplies. In 1903, Buford and George was purchased by John Deere Plow Company, which expanded the business to include a harness factory. In 1907, the John Deere Company spun off the Velie Saddlery Company, and the building was used for saddlery and harness manufacture. Velie discontinued operations in 1913, but other agricultural companies continued in the building until 1964.
  • Central Industrial District/West Bottoms Green Infrastructure Project, Liberty Street at 14th Street south of I-670, includes a boardwalk with native plants, permeable paved multi-event space, and public walking trail.