The concrete reservoir in Kansas City’s Kessler Park has been abandoned since 1931.
Over the course of his career, George Edward Kessler created 26 separate park and boulevard systems, encompassing 49 individual parks. His work stretches across 100 cities and several countries. This park, renamed after him in 1971, was part of the master plan he created for the Kansas City area. However, he probably didn’t plan that the reservoir would ever look like this.
That being said, in its current state, the reservoir holds its own kind of charm. Two old water towers stand rusting in the center, weeds have sprung up in its many cracks, and graffiti has spread along the basin walls. The entire space runs about the length of a football field. It’s sparse, eerie, and its own little world—entirely different from the park that surrounds it.
Just west of the weedy reservoir, the park is home to a some much more stately flora: the largest living tree in all of Missouri. It’s an eastern cottonwood near Lookout Point on Cliff Drive. The tree boasts a 344-inch circumference and has a trunk diameter of more than nine feet.
The calculation for tree size (at least in Missouri) goes like this: the height in feet + the circumference in inches + ¼ of the crown spread in feet. For this tree, that works out to be 125 + 344+ 30, a final score of 499.
Shockingly, the largest tree in Missouri is only about 70 years old—a mere toddler by arboreal standards. Cottonwoods develop unusually quickly. This one grows like a weed, even though the real weeds are down the road.