Finding a Public Stairway in an Unexpected Place While on a Road Trip


I apologize for taking so long to post a new entry in this blog. I have been on a road trip with my dog Petey and hope to have several new posts related to our trip over the next few weeks.

On the second day of our trip, while still driving across the country, I was able to put my wandering and seeing skills to use when I found a completely unexpected public stairway in Kansas City, Kansas.

We were driving north on I-35 into Kansas City. To our right was a bluff with development above and below it. I immediately thought that this would be a perfect location for a stairway and pulled off at the next exit.

As we drove along Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City, Kansas, I caught a glimpse in the corner of my eye of a stairway at the end of Hill Street going off to the right. We immediately turned, drove up to the stairway, and parked the car.

Two things were immediately noticeable: the sign saying that the steps were unsafe for pedestrians and the water flowing from the steps. The sign didn’t stop us from checking out the steps, and we never were able to determine if the water was coming from a natural spring or a broken water pipe.

The water was like a small stream flowing out of the steps and across the street. It was less than ankle deep and easy to splash through to the stairs. The stairs were a disaster.

They were completely overgrown with shrubs all the way to the top.

In some places the steps were eroded beyond recognition.

And in one place a tree had fallen over to block the steps.

We got around all of the obstacles and made it to the top. It took us behind a public building that was most likely a school.

We walked through the alley and parking area behind the building, went up a narrow passage way and ended up in the stands of an old football field.

We then walked across the field and saw this arch just beyond the end zone of the football field. We later learned that the arch was erected after World War I to honor the residents of the Rosedale neighborhood who fought in the war.

From the arch there was a commanding view of downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

When I had a chance to do some investigation on the Internet, I learned that the school was once Rosedale High School and is now the Rosedale Middle School and that the steps were called the High School Steps. One source said that there were 180 steps while another said there were 160. I counted 143 steps. Many of the steps were eroded and my count could be wrong. Regardless the stairs are substantial and have over 100 steps.

These steps are a throwback to when our communities were more walkable and kids walked to school. The steps would be a perfect way to tie a school on top of hill to the community down below.

As for finding these stairs, this little adventure is an excellent example of what The Gentle Art of Wandering is all about. That is, you will always find something interesting to see or experience no matter where you are if you only allow yourself to be connected to wherever you are.


  1. Stairs in Kansas City. I have relatives in Kansas City. I’ll have to let them know about this.

  2. I use to walk those steps to school in 1963.

  3. I walked up these stairs to high school in the50 . Thankful they were there . Thank you for the pictures.

  4. I walked the steps 40 some years ago when I went to school there in my schools days. Wow to see this is realy something for me to see again as a 54 year old man.

  5. we would have to run these stairs for our Gym Teacher Ms. Murray 1965/1972. Class of 1973 was the last class to graduate before it went to a middle school…

  6. Me and my brothers used those steps
    A lot of memories

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