a charlotte street 15 year anniversary project considering the history and future of artist-driven pioneering in Kansas City and the changing nature of the city's "frontiers"

Emily Henson on Kansas City Power and Light

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Sure, Power and Light District just isn’t my scene. Honestly, the place totally grosses me out and generally, I avoid it altogether. When I visited the “Kansas City Live!” section of P&L on a packed Saturday night, it seemed many people opted to leave their inhibitions “in the minivan” as one of their slogans suggest. According to the dress code, men can’t wear sweatpants or bandanas – but female bartenders are excused from having to wear any pants at all. On a weekend night, it’s a couple blocks of concrete boxes inundated with short dresses and wrinkled khakis dancing the night away into a drunken fervor. And on a Monday afternoon, it’s virtually empty. 

I left at the end of the night on Saturday thinking more and more about how anonymous this bar-with-some-bars-in-it really feels. Despite the space being full of generic national chains, it is touted as being a main tourist attraction to Kansas City. I’ve been photographing P&L using my hands to crop out the signs of the businesses that occupy the space because I am not convinced that they really say anything substantial about Kansas City. Instead, I think the fact that we are willing to bulldoze original shops and restaurants to absorb a prefabricated entertainment district with asphalt to park our cars on – and call it a “Downtown Renaissance” – does.

-Emily Henson

All  photos by Emily Henson


One comment on “Emily Henson on Kansas City Power and Light

  1. Excellent writeup. You’ve managed to call out the emptiness of the physical place. Now you should follow up with some research into just how bad the place is for KC from an economic standpoint. The agreement with the Baltimore company who owns most of that district even stipulates that if it fails to generate as much business as was promised, KCMO has to pay out of tax coffers to make up the difference. We’ve paid millions so far.

    Think about that for awhile.

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This entry was posted on April 10, 2012 by in Exhibition, Phase I Projects, Power and Light.
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