100 Years ago in Kansas City: A Photo Time Capsule

(originally published 5/21/20) It doesn’t seem possible that 1920 is one hundred years ago. My parents were born within a few years of either side of that date, and so growing up, when I remember them best in the 1960s and 70s, 1920 was only about 40 or 50 years earlier. Now, I hate toContinue reading “100 Years ago in Kansas City: A Photo Time Capsule”

Harry Jacobs’ American Dream

(originally published 2/20/20) I first heard of Harry Jacobs while researching the old Brookside Theatre. That was Harry’s building, his “baby” as he called it, until 1978 when it burned to the ground and broke a piece of Harry’s heart. But Harry’s heart, his humor and his boot-strapping philosophy were all intact and in fullContinue reading “Harry Jacobs’ American Dream”

The Train Out of Westport: Part 3 – The Country Club Freeway

(originally published 11/21/19) For the past two weeks, we’ve been looking at the history of the Trolley Track Trail, the pedestrian and bike trail that runs from Brookside Boulevard and Volker, all the way south to Dodson at 85th & Prospect. What began as a freight line connecting Westport to south Jackson County in theContinue reading “The Train Out of Westport: Part 3 – The Country Club Freeway”

The Train Out of Westport: Part 2 – The Country Club Streetcar Line

(originally published 11/14/19) Last week’s post covered the first of four pieces on the origins of today’s Trolley Track Trail. The growth in Kansas City’s late 19th century gave rise to a small railroad that connected Westport to Waldo and beyond, a line that would continue to be influential for more than a century. ByContinue reading “The Train Out of Westport: Part 2 – The Country Club Streetcar Line”

A Wrong Made Right: In Honor of Yvonne Wilson

(originally published 10/17/19) Tuesday, October 15, 2019 – This morning, I woke to the radio telling me Yvonne Wilson had passed away. Wilson was a long-time local community leader who served in the Missouri State House for ten years, and during that tenure surely everyone living in Kansas City central has benefited from her hardContinue reading “A Wrong Made Right: In Honor of Yvonne Wilson”

The Speculators: Waldo, Wornall, Ward and Armour

(originally published 5/9/19) Four men and their descendants played significant roles in the development of the land south of Brush Creek, as well as contributed greatly to the larger story of Kansas City and its part in the American West. They were speculators. They came to make their fortunes, or came with fortunes to invest,Continue reading “The Speculators: Waldo, Wornall, Ward and Armour”

Faith and Trust Part I: The Case of the Missing Houses

(originally published 4/25/19) This week’s post is the first of two parts, but was originally a feature in my 2017 book on the history of the Greenway Fields neighborhood – the neighborhood just west of Wornall Road between 61st and 65th Streets. The piece looks at the often-times complicated relationships neighborhoods have with their institutionalContinue reading “Faith and Trust Part I: The Case of the Missing Houses”

Art in Search of a Home – “Man in Despair”: Part 1

(originally published 3/28/19) In Kansas City, it’s hard to tell what will spark a controversy, particularly around a subject like art with its landmines at the crossroads of individual tastes, cultural message, and societal norms. We loved it in 1979 when Cristo wrapped the Loose Park sidewalks in golden lengths of nylon, but when theContinue reading “Art in Search of a Home – “Man in Despair”: Part 1”

Brookside’s Big Fire: The Brookside Theatre Building

(originally published 1/24/19) Having a theatre in Brookside had been a big part of the dream of Harry Jacobs, the developer who, in 1937, built it on most of the east side of what is today Brookside Plaza, one block east of Brookside Boulevard. Jacobs called it the Brookside Theatre Building, because in addition toContinue reading “Brookside’s Big Fire: The Brookside Theatre Building”