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Broadway & 8th Street
Broadway & 8th Street
TitleBroadway & 8th Street
DescriptionPostcard view of Broadway & 8th Street
Historical ArticleThe four buildings at the intersection of 8th and Broadway in this 1907 post card looking east originally were those of Swofford Bros. Dry Goods Company built in 1899 on the northeast corner; Burnham, Hanna, Munger Dry Goods Company built in 1901 by Washington University of St. Louis, on the southeast corner; Faxon Horton Gallagher Company built in 1903 on the northwest corner; Harvey-Dutton Dry Goods Company built in 1903 on the southwest corner.

Today the sites, recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places, are occupied respectively by Folger Coffee Company, H.T. Poindexter & Sons, Eisen Buildings and the Kansas City Carnival Supply Company.

The cable car tracks shown slope down to the opening of a tunnel which pierced the west bluffs (sometimes called the Kersey Coates bluff) and carried the heavy traffic between Kansas City's business district and the West Bottoms, Union Depot and Kansas City, Kansas. The Intercity Viaduct had not yet been built.

The tunnel, built in 1888, was the project of Robert Gillham, to get people from the West Bottoms uptown and back again, a cause to which he devoted much of his life. It was about a fourth of a mile long and 18 feet wide, 12 feet tall and 900 feet long. A powerhouse for the original cable cars was located at the opposite or west end of the tunnel. The original cost was $500,000.

Arriving at the far side of the tunnel at the depot, a long winding ramp resembling a cattle chute served as the pedestrian access to the streetcar station at the depot. Its wooden walls, painted red, resounded to the echoes of hurrying feet and eager voices, raised high in the excitement of arrival and departure, in farewells and greetings, wrote an early-day journalist.

The tunnel was used extensively by cable and later electric streetcars until 1923. The only other connecting links to the West Bottoms were cable cars operating on steeper grades at 9th and 12th Streets.

The tunnel was closed in 1923 because of the dangerous conditions of the old L structure at the west end. It had served the public for 35 years.

Businessmen demanded repairs and five years later it was re-opened for use. On Feb. 19, 1928, a luncheon was held to celebrate the re-opening with an attendance of over 200. Powell G. Groner of the Kansas City Public Service Company was the speaker at the event held at the Hotel Muehlebach.

An honored guest was J.H. Kerby, a banker from Clay Center, Kan., who as a boy had driven a dappled team and a clumsy wagon all the way to Kansas City. The lure was a report that men could make as much as $4 a day by using their teams to haul earth out of the new tunnel. Young Kerby had driven out with the first load of dirt. He recalled adventures and incidents of the day.

Today the tunnel is closed and only a blank stone retaining wall remains at the rear of a parking lot at 8th and Washington. The west end of the opening is also blocked.

Concrete perimeters of the old tunnel, as pictured in the foreground of the post card picture, have been removed and 8th Street, now widened, graded and refinished, extends west from Broadway to Washington.

Kansas City Times
April 18, 1980
AuthorRay, Mrs. Sam (Mildred)
Item TypePostcard
CollectionMrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection (SC58)
See finding aid: http://localhistory.kclibrary.org/u?/Local,36981
Local SubjectBroadway Boulevard
8th Street Tunnel
8th Street
Digital FormatJPEG
RepositoryMissouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri
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