Thursday, April 21, 2011

8th St. Tunnel - 9th St. Incline

I had the chance today to see something not many people even know exists. A hundred-plus years ago when Kansas City's west bottoms was a more happenin' place than it is even today, getting in and out of it wasn't easy. That is, until the 9th Street Incline was opened in 1888. The idea was to build a tunnel beginning just west of Broadway and angle it down through the bluffs into the west bottoms, creating a direct rail link to downtown and Quality Hill. It worked quite well, albeit a bit scary for those first passengers, some of whom bailed off as the train began to descend.

(Below photos courtesy of the Kansas City Public Library's photo collection.)

You can see streetcars coming in and out of the tunnel in the lower center of this photo (above), and the track as it emerges from the bluffs. (below)

Fast forward to today . . About 100 yards of this tunnel still exists and is occasionally opened for private tours. For an architectural photographer and history buff like me, it was a REAL thrill!