GAZELLE STL NOVEMBER 2017 - Page 86

COMMUNITY & CULTURE MEET ME IN… Kirkwood B y T r i s h M u y c o - To b i n I t’s difficult to imagine Kirkwood without thinking about the historical landmarks - the Train Station, City Hall, the downtown business district and even a few residential homes - that dot the approximately 9 square miles of suburbia recognized as being the first municipality established outside of St. Louis City boundaries. Kirkwood’s growth through the years can be tied directly to the railroad. Founded in 1853, it was an early commuter train suburb, named after Missouri Pacific Railroad engineer James P. Kirkwood, who was in charge of locating, surveying and building the railroad. The Kirkwood Train Station, built in 1893 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is in the heart of the downtown area. Since 2003, the city of Kirkwood has owned and operated the site, which currently serves as a stop for Amtrak passenger train service. The city negotiated the purchase of the station from Amtrak in 2002, after the company announced plans to close the facility as part of a cost-cutting move. These days, the station is staffed by volunteer 84 GAZELLE STL Kirkwood residents who answer questions, help passengers embark, issue parking passes, you name it - everything but sell tickets. From the station, walk toward Kirkwood Road and the heart of downtown, and you’ll agree it could have been a prototype for Main Street, U.S.A. à la Norman Rockwell. From the storefront signs (Spencer’s Grill’s neon sign contains the oldest working clock west of the Mississippi) to the street lamps and the imposing Georgian Revival structure of Kirkwood’s City Hall, there are hints of a bygone era, holding their own against the newer landmarks: Station Plaza, which - with its delightful fountain and popular concert series - has assumed the role of town center, as well as the always popular Farmers’ Market. The Farmers’ Market is a bustling place every weekend, especially this time of year, for finding all sorts of holiday cheer. It was founded in 1976 as a bicentennial project by the city, and is owned by the City of Kirkwood.