Like in many cities across the United States, The Bottoms was an area that grew from segregated Black citizens and from Mexicans who came here for work and a better life. Topeka was outgrowing its downtown, and parts of the 100-year-old city were starting to age. The federal Housing Act of 1954 introduced the term "urban renewal" and provided federal funds, as did the building of the interstate system. These funds were too tempting for some cities to pass up.
By the time Keyway's construction finally came about in the early 1960s, dense businesses districts like Keyway and downtowns across the United States were starting to lose commercial businesses to the burgeoning suburbs. Montgomery Wards went up as part of Keyway and moved to the mall after two decades. Read about this and much more about The Bottoms and how communities can properly revive their downtown districts.
The Keyway district - and many other urban renewal projects in the United States - did not become what was promised, and now it is a desolate, forgotten area – an area with industry important in our city, but industry that could have been put somewhere else without uprooting a community. This area will remain like this and continue to deteriorate until the next big idea comes about. I’m already seeing that with current talks of moving the interstate as it winds around the core of downtown, and the ongoing dream projects of improving downtown, NOTO and the riverfront area. Between those areas sits the forgotten area once called The Bottoms.