When you drive down Independence Avenue, you’ll see how fast life moves around you. It’s not the type of fast that you’ll see in New York City, but it’s the way in which you see that everything is always changing and evolving as the year goes by. The Ave, as some like to say, is a permit driver's worst nightmare -- small and busy. For outsiders, the Historic Northeast as gentrifiers prefer to refer to it as is nothing more than an area that is crime-ridden and old. Though crime is an issue, it must be noted that the state of urban neighborhoods east of Troost are the byproduct of racism and discrimination, particularly towards Blacks. Even with this realization in hand, many don’t dare to give this area in chance. At the end of the day, that’s their loss because when you drive through the six neighborhoods that comprise Northeast, you’ll see the tight knit community that exists, the stories that lie in each of its residents and the beauty of its diversity.
For starters, Northeast comprises six neighborhoods: Independence Plaza, Indian Mound, Lykins, Pendleton Heights, Scarritt Renaissance and Sheffield, all placed between downtown Kansas City and the city of Independence. Whether you’re driving, walking or biking, you’ll find that every house is unique. You’ll find houses in variant colors, others styled with Spanish columns and sometimes even Victorian mansions, all on the same street.
Along two of the major streets that connect the neighborhoods, Independence Avenue and St. John Avenue, restaurants and food trucks from all over the world leave a trace of the racial and ethnic diversity of its residents. Throughout the years, Northeast’s demographics changed with its series of immigration waves, welcoming Italians to Vietnamese and most recently, Somali and Sudanese individuals. Mexican grocery stores and Somali marketplaces are available to get lost in. After you’re done eating samosas at Yasmeen Cafe, stop by the Concourse. Walk around and enjoy the sun or sit and listen to the sounds of children playing in the fountains to cool off during the summer heat. If you listen closely, you’ll hear people speaking in Arabic, Spanish, Vietnamese, Swahili and Lao as they play soccer or futsal. For those who like to be physically active, the options are endless. Go for a run along Gladstone Boulevard, walk your dog at Budd Park or even play Disc Golf at Kessler Park. Additionally, the Kansas City Museum is also in Northeast with a few traditions of its own such as pictures with the Fairy Princess around the December holidays.
Apart from the different activities and food you can taste, you can also enjoy the art of local artists. Murals and street art cover the walls of many local businesses to add more color and showcase one of the many talents of its residents. You’ll meet people who have been living there for generations and others who just immigrated to the United States. So many stories ready to be told and luckily with the help of community journalism, Northeast News is able to report on all the exciting things happening in the area.
I’m not here to convince you that you should stop by Northeast, rather affirming and writing about its underappreciated qualities. It’s more than just a place, it's a home. It’s Kansas City’s gem, whether it realizes it or not. So the next time you want to support your local restaurants and shops, go biking or for a run, go to Northeast, it won’t disappoint!