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Lewyn Addresses America

A little politics, a little urbanism- I also blog 100 percent on urbanism at and

The area north of the Missouri River is mostly suburban sprawl developed in the last few decades, even though most of it is as close to downtown as Brookside is.

Some photos of the city’s Northland neighborhoods here (though actually, I think some of these are within the city limits of Gladstone).

Also photos of Oakwood (a small suburb next to Gladstone) and North Kansas City (the part of the Northland closest to downtown, and probably the least sprawly part).

I finally found time to visit Kansas City, Kansas (a depressing industrial suburb- not quite as bad as Gary or Camden, but similar in that it is a poor town bordering a major city).

I also visited Lee’s Summit (a somewhat affluent suburb on the Missouri side) and the city’s industrial West Bottoms neighborhood.

There is a great deal I don’t understand about what, if anything, the US should do about ISIS (or ISIL or whatever their names are).

1.  To hawks: if we couldn’t beat the Taliban or al-Qaeda with tens of thousands of American troops, what makes you think we can beat ISIS (which seems to be richer and more powerful, according to what I’ve read) even if we do bring in ground troops?

2.  To doves: if we wait for ISIS to attack us, what’s your strategy for fighting back? How is it any more likely to succeed than the strategy discussed in my last paragraph?

I rented a car for this weekend (partially to go to Selichot in the suburbs, partially to visit friends in Lawrence KS). Last night  I forgot to turn on my lights and was stopped by the police.  The police didn’t ticket me so I’m grateful  tor that.  And today, when I parked my car in the condo parking lot, it seemed to the staff that other cars might not be able to get through, so they could have towed me and didn’t- again, I’m grateful to avoid punishment for my own carelessness.

Tonight I am invited to someone’s apartment in my building for Shabbos dinner.  Given that I don’t live in a part of Kansas City with much Jewish activity*, it has been hard getting Jewishly plugged in.  But I have the afternoon downtown minyan and now I have this too, so that’s something.

*All there is within a one-hour walk is 1) a Chabad house that is only going to start having minyans with the High Holy Days and (2) a Reform congregation that doesn’t meet on Saturdays.   All the more traditional congregations have moved to the Kansas suburbs.

I had my first physical in Kansas City, and got numerous recommendations for follow-up appointments and appointments with specialists.  Even though some of this is annoying, I am grateful that most of the medical issues mentioned were (a) things I already knew might be issues and (b) things that are not medical emergencies, but could just as easily be dealt with a year from now.

PS If anyone is reading this, he/she may be asking: why don’t I mention health more?  It seems to me that mentioning something that is happening every day (general good health, or at least not knowing otherwise) is kind of cheating.

When I visited Omaha, the neighborhood that reminded me most of Kansas City’s Brookside was Dundee (Warren Buffet’s neighborhood!)- a rich area with big 1920s houses, street grid, and sidewalks.  But even though Dundee’s residential areas are reasonably walkable, Brookside on balance is much nicer.

Here’s why: in Brookside, the main commercial streets (around 62rd and 63rd) are (a) pretty close to my building and (b) is pretty walkable- the main shopping street isn’t quite as wide or as fast as most Kansas City commercial streets.  In addition, they have utilitarian stuff like groceries. By contrast, in Dundee, most of the shopping (especially things that really matter like groceries and pharmacies, as opposed to restaurants) is on a speedway with huge parking lots.  That’s true even for neighborhoods closer in than Dundee.

So even though Kansas City is defective in some ways, I’m glad that it has kept some walkable neighborhoods and that I live in one of them.

NOTE: to see what I am talking about, go to Google Street View and look at 300 N. Saddle Creek in Omaha, then look at 317 W. 63rd Street in Kansas City.


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