The oldest park in Kansas City, MO

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Tucked away in a quiet downtown neighborhood — where the streets end in a triangle between private homes, an elementary school, and the cliff above the West Bottoms — is KC’s oldest park. This 0.162-acre patch of grass may not look like much, but its roots predate Kansas City itself.

Andrew Drips Park

Andrew W. Drips was born in 1789 and later worked as an American Fur Company agent. He married a woman called Mary of the Oto Nation, and they settled in 1839 in Kansas City — or rather, the uncharted “town of Kansas” as it was known at the time.

When Andrew died in 1860, his estate ultimately fell to his daughter, Catherine Drips Mulkey. In 1882, she deeded this parcel of land — known as the West Prospect Triangle — to the city. That was seven years before the town was renamed to “Kansas City,” and at least eight years before the KCMO Parks Board was founded.

Today, the park — at 16th Street + Belleview Avenue — is marked with a single stone monument. The etchings of Andrew and Mary have faded over time, but the inscription remains: “Kansas City’s first park. The keystone of our park system.”

Photo of the park

The small park connects to a pedestrian bridge overlooking I-670. | Photo by KCtoday

Kessler Park

But wait, there’s more. A recent story points to Kessler Park as the city’s first park. While some might leaf this alone, we dug in.

Apparently, the park board first gained funding and power in 1895. That same year, it acquired 302.87 acres along the northeast cliffs. Famed architect George Kessler was selected to design the space, which was called North Terrace Park (renamed Kessler in 1971).

Ultimately, it depends on your definition of a “city park.” In Kessler’s case, this is the first park owned + designed by the city. But for Andrew Drips Park, it will always be the first plot of natural space dedicated to KC.

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