City of Fountains Neighborhood Guide
Kansas City is home to more than 240 boroughs. They’re almost like mini-cities standing on their own, each with their own history, activities and unique vibes. Shaped by the recommendations of those who call each place home, these guidebooks will help you explore neighborhood by neighborhood. There are more on the way.
Tucked east of River Market lies a vibrant, historic residential neighborhood and its namesake, Columbus Park.
Offering a respite from the busy City Market shopping district just blocks away, this quiet area has been home to diverse immigrant communities from Italy, Vietnam, Russia and Western Europe for generations. Before it was called Columbus Park, the neighborhood was a hub for Italian immigrants known as “The North End” as early as the 1860s.
Columbus Park is a great place to walk your dog, visit the skate park, or sample international cuisine. Popular with longtime residents, it is an increasingly popular destination for visitors.
BEHIND OUR REPORTING
This is one of many upcoming KC neighborhood guides
The Star is working to create a series of neighborhood guides based on recommendations from Kansas Citians who call each neighborhood home. We’ll be adding more guides to this series over the coming weeks and months.
Do you have a favorite area that we’re dying to write about, or something about your neighborhood that we definitely need to include? Let us know at [email protected] or fill out this form.
Must eat or drink
Happy Gillis is the spot for brunch, while is the city’s most popular Vietnamese cafe Cafe Ca Phe has just opened its stationary location in the neighborhood. Residents told The Star they love it Cafe Vietnam‘s pho and Garozzo’s Old school Italian cuisine.
The neighborhood’s park of the same name offers shady trees, playgrounds, and lots of grass for strollers and picnickers alike.
And Kansas City skaters flock to Columbus Park in droves Harrison Street DIY skate park. This spot was built from 2014 by and for skaters on an empty urban lot. People of all ages meet on skateboards, scooters and roller skates in this welcoming area. While the land it’s on is now for sale from the citythe future of the park remains uncertain.
Iconic neighborhood thing
The iconic Holy Rosary Church has been a landmark and anchor of the neighborhood since it was founded by Italian immigrants in 1891.
Columbus Park is also home to the Don Bosco Centers, a large nonprofit organization that provides meals and resources to seniors and other community members. The organization coordinates food deliveries to seniors throughout Kansas City and is home to a school that teaches English to Kansas Citians from around the world.
The services of the Don Bosco Centers were one of the reasons the neighborhood became a haven for refugees arriving in KC.
Here’s how you can get involved
Local residents recommended checking it out sewing labs, a unique non-profit organization dedicated to teaching sewing skills on a variety of machines.
“You are a powerhouse when it comes to teaching people how to become industrial seamstresses,” said Kate Barsotti, the president of Columbus Park Community Council. There are also grants for sewing courses.
What it is known for
Many Columbus Park homes and split-level apartment buildings have front porches and balconies, and many neighbors know each other.
One reader told us through our callout form that he loves the close-knit, friendly atmosphere of the neighborhood and that he can sit on his porch in the evenings and chat with dog walkers and others on the sidewalk.
“Some nights end up with 8 to 12 people hanging out on someone’s porch,” he said.
A bit of history
Columbus Park was formerly the year-round storage facility for the Missouri Department of Transportation’s road salt. The neighborhood fought for decades to remove the salt mound, eventually getting State Representative Jolie Justice to intercede on her behalf, Barsotti recalled.
There is even more local history in the many families that have called Columbus Park home for several generations.
“Whole families lived within blocks of each other, and children grew up with their aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents (sometimes in the same household, or at least the same block),” new resident Torey Levine told The Star. “What fascinates me the most so far is the family history here.”
Did we miss something great about Columbus Park, or would you like to tell us about your favorite thing to do in your neighborhood? Let us know at [email protected] or using the form below.