Donald J. Hall, president and chief executive officer of Hallmark, and Lynn Bauer, president of Crown Center Redevelopment, discuss the shape of the future in the late 1960s. The 85-acre complex of offices, shops, hotels and theaters has been one of the nation’s top urban renewal projects.
A quiet day at the Kansas City Stockyards. The facility never recovered from the 1951 flood, which drowned stock and damaged the yards and area businesses. At its peak, 16 railroads serve the yards, which straddled the state line. In 1974, Kemper Arena was built on former stockyard property, and the remaining stock holding operation finally closed in 1991.
The caption on this undated photo says “Creative department, Hall Brothers.” Overflowing at 26th and Walnut streets, Halls moved their card business in 1936 to the Willys-Overland Building (from which Parkards and Dodges had been sold) that stretched from Grand Avenue to McGee Trafficway at 25th Street. The building, six stories on Grand and four on McGee, and now a re-facaded part of the Hallmark complex houses Kaleidoscope among other things. This room still exists, although the artists and designers have better quarters today. The company did not change its name to Hallmark until 1954.
This is the second home of what we know today as Commerce Trust Company, then known as the Kansas City Savings Association, founded by Francis Long, who arrived by stagecoach in 1865 with $10,000. The bank started at Second and Main streets amid the raw cuts on the bluffs, leading his wife to declare the town “The most Godforsaken place I’ve ever seen.” At this Fourth and Delaware location, the bank was upstairs, above the Magnolia saloon — handy during bank panics. Long’s nephew, R.A. Long, got backing from the back to amass his fortune in the lumber business. The name was changed to the National Bank of Commerce in 1882; by 1900, it was the largest bank west of Chicago.
When Isaac and Michael Katz bought two cigar stores, one here on the northeast corner of 8th Street and Grand Avenue, during World War I, they had no idea their future was in pharmacies. They first made their mark by selling cigarettes cheaper than anyone else, but when the government decreed early war-time closing times that would cut into their market, they added a few medicines to qualify as Katz drug stores, complete with the kitty logo. A Kansas City institution was born.
No more soiled petticoats! Everything is getting up to date on Walnut Street south of Fourth Street as Colorado granite is laid in tight blocks. The pavement signified real urban sophistication in a town used to mud and dust churned up by horses and wagons. To the right is the massive City Market building.
Muehlebach Brewery 18th and Main.
The Kansas City Library
Priest of Pallas Parade, Date Unknown. The Priests of Pallas was a week-long festival held annually in Kansas City from 1887 until 1912, and revived briefly from 1922 to 1924. Festival supporters set out to promote Kansas City’s image as the “Athens of the West” and to parallel other celebrations such as New Orleans's Mardi Gras and St. Louis’s Veiled Prophet. Pallas Athene was the patroness of the festival and motifs were based loosely on figures from Greek mythology. Festivities included three parades with ornate floats, and numerous concerts and other performances. Nightly parties culminated with an elegant masked ball where guests received an official annual souvenir. Examples of some of these souvenirs can be seen in the Missouri Valley Room. In 2005, several local historical groups combined to re-create the Priests of Pallas masked ball at Union Station.
The Kansas City Library
Priest of Pallas Parade, Date Unknown. Nothing says Kansas City like a giant lobster float. Perhaps this is why we haven’t seen a Priest of Pallas Parade since 1924. The Priests of Pallas was a week-long festival held annually in Kansas City from 1887 until 1912, and revived briefly from 1922 to 1924. Festival supporters set out to promote Kansas City’s image as the “Athens of the West” and to parallel other celebrations such as New Orleans's Mardi Gras and St. Louis’s Veiled Prophet. Pallas Athene was the patroness of the festival and motifs were based loosely on figures from Greek mythology. Festivities included three parades with ornate floats, and numerous concerts and other performances. Nightly parties culminated with an elegant masked ball where guests received an official annual souvenir. The early floats, decorated by solemn maidens, were pulled by horses; here, the later parade has graduated to street car chassis.
Date Unkown. Priest of Pallas Parade
In September 1971, serious work was underway to shape “Signboard Hill” overlooking Union Station into the Crown Center Hotel (now the Westin Crown Center). The nine-story Hotel Plaza occupied the spot earlier, surrounded by huge signs for Muehlebach Beer, tires and gasoline.
In this view the boom appears ready to hoist the Liberty Memorial shaft. The equipment is operated by one man seated at a console which can be moved on or off the machine.
It was 1934, and there were still things to build in Kansas City that needed Pendergast concrete. The corner stone for the municipal auditorium is being laid on Thanksgiving day with the help of several notables: The tall white-haired man is Henry F. McElroy, the corrupt city manager who resigned when Tom Pendergast was indicted. The smaller man to the right is Bryce B. Smith, mayor during the years of corruption. Framed by the cables is George L. Goldman, director of the Municipal Auditorium. Farther right, Matthey S. Murray, director of public works talks with the new U.S. Senator-elect, Harry S Truman. On the other side of the cameraman is Roger T. Sermon, mayor of Independence.
Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but his lips on Nov. 3, 1962, were in Municipal Auditorium for the 19th annual Katz Philharmonic concert. An estimated 10,000 listened to the crooner, three times the number that heard him at Carnegie Hall in New York earlier that year.
The Leeds water tower says Chevrolet, but the scene says U.S. Army. Interestingly, this photograph was taken Oct. 28, 1941, more than a month before Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor. The nation, however, was already trying to catch up in military preparedness. The rest of the General Motors assembly plant at this point was still producing civilian vehicles, but that wouldn’t last long. The plant was converted to production of artillery shells.
An aerial view from 1953 of General Motors Leeds automobile assembly plant. The building at 6817 Stadium Drive near the Blue River is still used for private warehousing, but the assembly lines closed in 1988. First operating in 1929, the facility served two divisions, Chevrolet and Fisher Body. At one point, more than 4,500 workers on two production shifts turned out 60 vehicles hourly. In the last years, the Chevrolet models were the Monte Carlo, Malibu and Cavalier, plus the Buick Skyhawk and Oldsmobile Firenza.
Edward J. Hille
September 27, 1978, Ewing Kauffman, owner of the Royals, jumped into the frivolity of the locker room after his team clinched its third straight American League West Division title. Here, Kauffman gives pitcher Marty Pattin a friendly slap for a dousing received moments earlier.
Charles Lindbergh, bona fide American hero, addresses a crowd at Muehlebach Field (Municipal Stadium) on Aug. 17, 1927. Lindbergh was famous for his May 21 solo Atlantic flight, landing in Paris after 33 hours aloft. While in town, he mused that Kansas City seemed a good location for an aviation hub and later recommended what would become TWA to headquarter here. This seemed like a good idea to Tom Pendergast, whose company would be pouring concrete for new runways before too long.
The Linda Hall Library is busy on this June day in 1957, about 11 years after this signature Kansas City landmark opened. It was built on the estate of Herbert and Linda Hall, who had amassed considerable wealth in the grain industry. They left $6 million for construction of a public library, and Herbert decreed that it be named after his wife who had died in 1938. Its trustees decided it should specialize in science and technology.
This June 1929 photograph centers on the former Federal Reserve Bank building at 925 Grand Ave. It had moved from its first location across the street when it was opened in Missouri’s tallest building in late 1921. The Institution has since moved south on Main to near the World War I Memorial. The domed building to the right was built in 1900 as a federal custom house and post office at 9th Street and Grand Avenue, only to be demolished in 1938 in a New Deal construction project. The United States Courthouse and Post Office that replaced it also was outgrown and has since been left behind by the federal courts here in 1998.
Boxcars await their turn to be filled with wheat in July 1926 in the Santa Fe rail yards in the Argentine area. The railroad, now known as the BNSF (earlier they merged Burlington, Northern & Santa Fe), first chugged into this district of Kansas City, Kan., in 1875 and built yards that would stretch nine miles up the Kaw River bottoms. The Santa Fe owned the elevator in the background; it grew to a 10-million-bushel capacity by World War II, one of the world’s largest. It was demolished in 1996. The BNSF, by the way? Owned by Warren Buffett’s outfit.
Hey! Hay wagon’s acomin’! This 1938 overhead view of the Kansas City stockyards represented just a few of the 15,000 head of cattle, railed in from as far away as Texas grasslands, on hand that day. Hard to find an Angus burger in this bunch, though.
Harry Truman paid a visit to his old haberdashery partner, Eddie Jacobson, at the Westport Men's Shop on a visit to Kansas City in June 1945, shortly after he had become President. White House records now at the Truman Library show that Jacobson was a frequent visitor at the White House during the period the Palestine issue was under study.
Another opening day, another bouquet for Muriel Kauffman. On this April 9, 1969, before the game began, she passes a carnation for her husband’s buttonhole. The bouquet was a gift from the players’ wives. It appears to have been a good day for baseball and for the Royals, who beat the Twins at Municipal Stadium, Brooklyn and 22nd Street. First known as Muehlebach Field, the stadium cost an unheard of $400,000 in 1923. The AA Kansas City Blues, owned by George Muehlebach, played there, as did the Monarchs, Spurs, Royals and Chiefs. It would be four more opening days before the new Royals Stadium, now Kauffman Stadium, opened.
April 8, 1970, Mrs. and Mr. Ewing Kauffman.
Tables are set March 6, 1964, at the Four Winds restaurant on the second floor of the rotunda of the Kansas City Municipal Airport Terminal. Reached by escalator from the central lobby, the restaurant sat 166, with private dining rooms for 88 more. Joe Gilbert, long before the creation of Gilbert/Robinson, took it over in 1940 when it was in the earlier terminal, foreseeing the coming boom in aviation traffic. Although the previous operator had leased it for $1 from the city, it lost money, a situation Gilbert had no trouble correcting. Ernest Hemingway is said to have done some work on a piece of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” sitting in a booth in the previous restaurant while passing through in 1949.
A store-closing sale has customers lined up outside the Katz Drugstore in the Argyle Building at 12th and McGee streets. The photograph was taken on Jan. 16, 1923, after 53 years in operation.
Amid flag and flowers, Jackson County Clerk Edward Becker swears in Harry S Truman as the county’s presiding judge, an administrative post, on Jan. 1, 1931. Flanking Truman are Eugene I. Purcell, as Eastern District judge and William O. Beeman, for the Western District. Truman would continue to rebuild Jackson County’s roads, but a Pendergast-backed bond issue in coming months would allow him to lead the building of a county courthouse Downtown -- complete with the statue of Andrew Jackson out front -- and to modernize the old courthouse located on the Independence Square, where his office was.
“The Kid Brother,” one of Harold Lloyd’s best comedies, showed in Kansas City in 1927. It had everything, comedy, romance, drama, and character development — but alas no sound, unless you count the pipe organ and 10-piece orchestra to accompany the silent films. When the Theatre Royal was built in 1913 at 1022 Main Street, area retailers were upset that it would distract Kansas Citians from spending money in their shops for two hours. Then they saw it for the Downtown draw that it was. It closed in 1936.
In 1869 the view looking north.
The latest rage in transportation, circa the late 1890s. W.D. Womack, a Kansas City bicycle baron, draws cyclists to his store, on the east side of Walnut Street just south of Ninth, for a prize tournament. The event was sponsored by Dixon's Salon, one of about 350 that flourished in the city about this time.
Main Street about 1880, as the town begins to grow away from its riverfront beginnings. The Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad Bridge had been finished 11 years earlier, setting Kansas City apart from all other Missouri River towns. The population this year was 55,000, but would reach 130,000 by the next census
Folks are always wanting to build new airport terminals in Kansas City. Here in 1958, a $4 million upgrade to what was then known as the Municipal Air Terminal. The white-roofed restaurant at lower left was linked by concourses to the unseen south terminal building — which was slated for a later upgrade — and the new north structure.
A spring day in 1948 greeted patrons of the Country Club Plaza, who could grab lunch at one of the Putsches restaurants before wandering into the Plaza Theater to watch Eddie Cantor in “If You Knew Susie.” It was a different place then, with the only chain store, a Kresges. This was before even Macy’s and the building that today houses the Cheesecake Factory was built. Just one store seems to have survived from that day: Patsy’s, which soon became Topsy’s.
It’s a good bet that these men at this moment knew the price of a ton of hard red winter wheat down to the penny. The picture depicts the Kansas City Board of Trade in July 1927 when it was located at 10th and Wyandotte Streets, its third location. It had begun in a dingy room across from the Union Depot down in the West Bottoms. The 10th Street building has been converted into condos. Last year, the board, which had moved to Main Street just south of The Country Club Plaza, shut down after 157 years in the city.
The thirsty eventually had to go elsewhere than S. Liebman’s for their Muehlebach Beer, brewed just two blocks west. The buildings seen here in 1909 at 18th Street and Grand Avenue were razed a year later for the new Kansas City Star and Times building. Jarvis Hunt designed the newspaper plant and offices, as he did Union Station.
To great excitement, the famous “Spirit of St. Louis” touched down on the soggy “Peninsula field,” on Aug. 17, 1927. Perhaps 25,000 were there to hear its pilot, Charles Lindbergh, and city officials dedicate a new Municipal Airport, what we know today as the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport. Lindbergh, who had made his solo Atlantic hop just three months earlier, was on a cross-county tour to promote the excitement of commercial aviation. One hopes that none of the 25,000 were asked to take off their shoes.
Returning soldiers under the arch.
Union Station was always a busy place, especially around Christmas when people took trains to get back home. Here in an undated photograph, a band, complete with two tubas, offers seasonal tunes as a master of ceremonies stands atop the ticket booth. Was it a sing-along? Many seem to have music sheets in their hands.