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”

From Farms to Families: The Story of Early Prairie Village

(originally published 1/16/20) A few years ago I discovered this wonderful book on the history of Prairie Village. “Wait,” you say. “Prairie Village has a history? Isn’t it just a shopping center surrounded by tract housing?” No, not at all. In fact, a lot of the communities that today blend together as one big swathContinue reading “From Farms to Families: The Story of Early Prairie Village”

The Independence Day Popsicle Parade

(originally published 6/27/19) On the surface, history and tradition might seem opposites. History is the record of the past, static and fixed. Tradition continues and evolves. But the truth is, traditions are history as performance art. Tradition brings history into our lives, connecting who we once were to who we are today. In some cases,Continue reading “The Independence Day Popsicle Parade”

Another Refugee’s Story: Leon Goodhart and the Country Club Shoe Store

(originally published in 2010 in The Brookside Story: Shops of Every Necessary Character, and in the original KCBackstories FB page, 5/23/19. The following is adapted from the book version) The Country Club Shoe Store – A Family Enterprise This bit of history is not distant to me, though it grows more distant with each passingContinue reading “Another Refugee’s Story: Leon Goodhart and the Country Club Shoe Store”

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”

Step into Spring: The Plaza Walking Tour

(originally published 3/21/19) A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of working on a project to create a “walking guide” for the Country Club Plaza. Historic Kansas City led the efforts of a group that included journalists, academics, architectural experts, HKC leadership… and me, and created a beautiful full-color booklet, with something forContinue reading “Step into Spring: The Plaza Walking Tour”

Keeping the Past in the Present: The Brookside Shops

(originally published 2/21/19) With this post, KCBackstories began the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Brookside Shops. In 2010, the shops were the subject of my first KC history book, and there had been sufficient and significant changes in the subsequent decade for my publisher, Arcadia Publishing/History Press, to support a revised special anniversaryContinue reading “Keeping the Past in the Present: The Brookside Shops”

Corrigan House – A Kansas City Gem

(originally published 2/7/19) Kansas City is home to a number of beautiful homes. And by beautiful, I mean jaw-droppingly stunning. Out-of-town visitors are without exception surprised to find the large number of massive, imposing and architecturally breathtaking houses in town, many of which are, of course, in the oldest parts of the Country Club DistrictContinue reading “Corrigan House – A Kansas City Gem”

Camp Nichols on Ward Parkway

(originally published 12/6/18) With the 100th anniversary of the first Armistice Day still in our rearview mirror, I wanted to share once more this sketch of a local regiment and the small camp it occupied for a few critical months in 1917. The Third Missouri Infantry Regiment was first organized in 1888, and spent theContinue reading “Camp Nichols on Ward Parkway”

J.C. Nichols’ “Don’t”s for Salespeople

(originally published 12/4/18) Just because it’s the shopping season… In 1933, J.C. Nichols circulated his “Don’ts for Salespeople” list among the Country Club Plaza businesses to be shared with their employees. The list is a microcosm of Nichols’ most defining characteristics. He was hands-on with every aspect of his vast, vertically integrated real estate empire,Continue reading “J.C. Nichols’ “Don’t”s for Salespeople”