The early 1800s saw the arrival of French fur traders who constructed spartan cottages along the Missouri River. This is when Kansas City first began to take shape. In 1838, the town of Kansas was constructed, and in the nearby town of Westport, a trail from the river landing to the Santa Fe Trail was built.
A few years later, businesses started to spring up along the river bluffs. Due to the fact that Kansas was a free state and Missouri was a slave state at this time, Kansas City saw tension and bloodshed. The site of the Battle of Westport, one of the deadliest conflicts west of the Mississippi, is now Loose Park and Forest Hill Cemetery. The city remained split even after the Union gained victory. On the west side of Main Street, on the streets known as Pennsylvania, Broadway, and Washington, Northerners preferred to reside; on the east side, on the streets known as Oak, Walnut, and Locust, Southerners preferred to reside.
Following the Civil War, the city’s population exploded as a result of the completion of several railways and the first bridge over the Missouri River. The wealthy constructed their mansions on Quality Hill along with the growth in downtown. The bustling cattle business, which included stockyards, warehouses, and packing houses, was centered in the West Bottoms, while trading and gathering places for people to buy and sell commodities were the City Market at 4th and Walnut.
A number of prominent Kansas City structures were constructed during the prosperous last decades of the 19th century, including the Board of Trade Building (1888), the New York Life Building (1890), the Emery Bird Thayer Building (1890), and a Convention Hall (1899). To capitalize on the construction boom, architectural companies from New York, Chicago, and Boston opened offices in Kansas City. The Garment District at 9th and Walnut, Quality Hill, and Independence Avenue were popular places to visit at this time, and a lot of affluent business owners were constructing mansions there. Kansas City had more cable roads than any other city outside San Francisco and Chicago. By 1895, George Kessler had created the system of parks and boulevards as a result of the City Beautiful Movement, which had started in 1884.
The R.A. Long building at 10th and Grand, the Scarritt Building at 8th and Grand, and the Commerce Bank at 10th and Walnut are just a few of the contemporary skyscrapers that were built in 1906. At 47th and Paseo in 1907, a lavish amusement park called Electric Park opened in honor of electricity. The City expanded in 1909, leading to the construction of numerous additional homes, shops, roadways, and boulevards as far south as 77th Street. The original “curtain wall” design was incorporated into the Louis Curtiss-designed Boley Building the same year the Kansas City Zoo opened in Swope Park. Many working-class people relocated to residential districts made up mostly of bungalows and straightforward four-square houses that were reachable by the cable car because they had more space to spread out. J.C. Nichols planned shopping malls to serve these midtown residential communities and created the County Club District in the region south of Brush Creek for more affluent inhabitants. The 1920s saw impressive commercial growth downtown, notably the Professional Building at 11th and Grand and the President Hotel at 12th and Baltimore, as well as even greater development of residential suburbs in the city’s southern regions. Burlesque was no longer popular at this time, and a number of downtown and neighborhood theaters were built in its place.
The development of amusement facilities like Fairyland Park at 75th and Prospect coincided with the expansion of the city southward.
In 1923, the Country Club Plaza with a Spanish flavor debuted. The Plaza, created by J.C. Nichols and Edward Buehler Delk, was the world’s first planned suburban shopping complex.
Its profusion of gas stations and free parking were intended to facilitate and entice shoppers arriving by car. The commercial area, which served the Midtown and Country Club District communities, quickly gained popularity and held its first annual Christmas light display in 1925.
Jazz achieved its artistic and cultural zenith in the 1930s, with Kansas City at the epicenter of the action. Nightclubs started popping up on 12th Street and at 18th and Vine, and they quickly became well-liked gathering places for prominent and avant-garde performers. Jazz and baseball met in especially at the segregated 18th and Vine neighborhood. Within a half-mile radius are the Mutual Musicians Foundation, Blues Stadium for the Negro National League, and well-known establishments including the Blue Room at the Streets.
While most other communities were struggling during the Depression, “Tom’s Town” grew. The 29 story City Hall, the former Jackson County Courthouse, Fidelity Bank and Trust, and Municipal Auditorium are just a few outstanding examples of Art Deco design that were supported by Mayor Tom Pendergast’s 10 Year Plan and kept the City’s economy afloat. Taxes were half as much as in comparable communities, and the city manager at the time admitted to deceit in how the money for these initiatives was handled.
Under Mayor Pendergast’s administration, corruption was pervasive and Kansas City gained a reputation for its vices.
More land to the south was annexed by Kansas City in 1947. The White middle class relocated in large numbers to newly constructed suburbs like Prairie Village, which is located just across the Kansas state line, in the 1950s and 1960s. Black people could no longer only live north of 27th street; many moved south to the residential areas east of Troost. Today, neighborhoods like City Market and the Crossroads Arts District are well-liked and hip.
Kansas City has made progress in the last ten years to establish itself as a desirable destination to live and work.
The development of the downtown Power and Light District and Sprint Center has greatly aided in promoting trade and urban core regeneration.
The Bloch addition to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, both of which have remarkable and award-winning designs, are two further projects that have brought the city prominence on a global scale.
To sum it all up, Kansas City is awesome and is full of rich history to be explored. A good way to explore this history and get your hands on some of the antiques that represent our heritage is to come to Estate Sales in Kansas City.
We are an Estate Sale and Auction Company in Kansas City. We would love to see you at our sales to let you put your hands on some of Kansas City’s most historic items.
Or if you have awesome items that you need an auctioneer in Kansas or Missouri to sell, we would be happy to help!
Give us a call with any questions: (816) 820-1124