Last Sunday, we celebrated our two-year anniversary by dropping off Ro-Dog at my folks’ and scoring a sweet suite at The Hilton President hotel. What a gorgeous bit of KC history. We were hoping for ghosts, but all we got was fantastic service. We ate our anniversary meal at The Drum Room, where the Executive Sous Chef came out and chatted with us for about a half hour after we asked our server about a discontinued melon-avocado soup. Nothing finer than chatting up food with a world-class chef.
The hotel itself is interesting in that it’s obvious Hilton enlarged the rooms (this was confirmed in a fact sheet we saw that told us the hotel now has 200-some-odd rooms down from 400-something) but the elevators are still very compact by any contemporary standard. If you’ve ever visited the Hotel Phillips, it’s the same thing there. The restoration as a whole, though, is stunning and I’d recommend taking a visit just to see what’s been done.
After the grub, we decided to walk around downtown. The weather was nice and I wanted to show Sarah my office. So we walked into the eerie emptiness that is downtown KC on a Sunday night. We strolled past all the P&L re-development and imagined the future with the help of detailed posters showing what’s to come. Street construction, city-block construction, a facelift looms for our city.
I’m writing this while 25 floors above 12th and Walnut. Directly below me is a big hole in the ground that will someday house a downtown supermarket and fitness center. Will any of it bring people back to KC for a Sunday night out? Goddamn, I hope so. I hope people come to feel the breeze blow between the high-rises. I hope people come to hear the late-night buses running lonely down the streets, beastly machines, fuming and loud, looking to fill empty bellies. I hope people come to smell hints of coffee and river water and the surprising lack of weekday exhaust. I hope people come to speak with those working in servile solitude in downtown bars and ask them for a favorite drink only to hear, “We ran out last night,”…which is a good thing. We live in a city to be proud of, a city to take a chance on, a city to spend time with, a city to get lost in, a city to learn, a city to criticize, a city to watch, and a city to watch out for.
We had breakfast in The Walnut Room, which featured on one wall a huge, black and white photo of old-time 11th and Walnut, in front of Jenkins Music, behind which now sits Town Pavilion parking. But then, instead of a host of vehicles, a throng of pedestrians filled the street. Maybe they’ll soon do so again.