Kansas City’s Best Alleys Part 5: Reader Picks

In light of the City’s recent decision to vacate yet another Downtown alley, Urban Angle is examining some of Kansas City’s most interesting in-between spaces, and why they are worth preserving.  Every day this week, we will visit a different alley, each with its own unique contributions to the experience of the City.  This is Part Five of Five. For an introduction to the series, check out Part One here. We’re curious to know which alleys are your favorites and why. Let us know in the comments and we’ll add it to the list!

For our final day exploring Downtown Kansas City’s best alleys, we have a three-for-one special, with two great reader suggestions and a bonus pedestrian connection.

Bunker Building Alley


In the historic heart of Downtown, this pedestrian alley off Baltimore leads to a great interior courtyard.

Tucked behind the Bunker building on Baltimore and surrounded by some of the best remnants of downtown Kansas City’s historic legacy, there is a great pedestrian alley that leads to a delightful, tree-lined courtyard. By circumstance of history and design, several businesses front this rear space of the block rather than the street, and it would have been all too easy to abandon this interior space to the ravenous parking lot monster. Instead, this alley makes it possible to access the interior of this block directly, and enjoy it as a genuine public space.


This modest but delightful courtyard brings together trees for shade, a fountain, and seating to make a great urban public space. There are parking and service functions adjacent, but you hardly notice.

18th Street


Several stores and galleries now make this 18th Street alley their front door in the Crossroads.

In its infancy as a great public space, this north-south alley off of 18th Street between Wyandotte and Baltimore hosted ad hoc programming from live bands to interactive art exhibits to First Fridays dance parties. Surrounded on all sides by creative people and businesses, and the Crossroads’ eclectic charm, this alley has evolved into something more permanent. Arts, crafts, and retail businesses now make the alley their front door. Lighting strung above the alley tells you that this is a space people cares about, and a place where people want to be.


This sign points intriguingly to the “Coal Bin Clu,” an otherwise unremarkable doorway in this 18th Street alley.

Folly Theater


Walking beneath this sculpture is really the only reason to take this pedestrian path next to the Folly Theater, but it does a very good job of making you want to do that.

This private pedestrian connection doesn’t really go anywhere, and it is probably a little bit too stark and narrow to be pleasant, but who could pass up an opportunity to walk beneath the rearing hooves of…whatever that thing us. This is a parking garage entrance, but it works alright for people too.

This is the fifth and final part of a five part series, exploring a different alley each day this week.  You can start from the beginning here.

  • Andrea’sBuzzingAbout

    But are the lovely courtyard and Folly Theater walkway accessible?
    Are there ramps for wheelchair users, strollers, people with difficulties walking, or small people?
    Do the stairs having lighting, or contrast-colored edges?

    • Thomas Morefield

      Most of the alleys are accessible. Many have lighting. All could probably be better designed. It seems like the first step to getting great alleys is making the case that alleys can be great spaces. What are your favorite examples?

  • Ashley Winchell

    Bunker and Folly are vacated. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    • Thomas Morefield

      It’s up to the City to improve public alleys, which it has never really done, so I don’t think it’s surprising our best examples today are private. I do think they demonstrate the value of alleys as public spaces, regardless of ownership.