Main Streets 2017: Missouri
Broadway Boulevard runs east to west through the heart of Sedalia, connecting residents and thousands of annual visitors to this small city’s history, culture, commerce and more.
Coming into town on Broadway from either east or west, you’ll travel past land that has been farmed for generations, plus modern manufacturing facilities that drive the community’s present-day growth. In Sedalia’s boom years after the Civil War, stockyards flourished as cattle were driven to the local railhead for transport to other parts of the country. This plus a U.S. Army installation brought travelers, traders and merchants to this town 90 miles east of Kansas City. And even though Sedalia’s economy has shifted to manufacturing and service industries, its connection to those rail roots are clearly visible today.
Running across Broadway is the 225-mile Katy Trail, the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad line. You can follow the “Katy” north to the Katy Depot, built in 1896 and now the city’s Welcome Center. The old station is home to railroad heritage exhibits, the Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce and the Sedalia Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Broadway runs right through the central business and cultural district, which Sedalia Downtown Development, Inc. has branded The Avenues. This National Commercial Historic District hosts a rich array of community events and activities. In May, the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival attracts more than 6,000; in March, teams of bed-racing crews sprint through the historic downtown district for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, bed races and pub crawl; in August, hundreds of cyclists take to the streets for the Sedalia Criterium and Otterville Road Race.
There are also arts festivals and craft fairs, the Thanksgiving Lighting & Fireworks Extravaganza, Chocolate Crawl and Wine and Brews on the Avenues. In late summer, head a little south of Broadway to experience the sights, sounds and tastes of the Missouri State Fair, a tradition in Sedalia since 1899.
Just north of Broadway is the restored, 1927-vintage Hotel Bothwell, with a rich history and a reputation for being haunted. Next door is the Pettis County Courthouse, where in 1940 then-Missouri Senator Harry S. Truman gave a significant civil rights speech in which he declared his belief in “the brotherhood of all men before law.”
For its 24,000 residents and its visitors, Sedalia is a place with a strong sense of community that continues to build on its history and strengthen its economy and culture. And Broadway runs right through it all.
All photos courtesy of Michael Edwards.