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 Landing Mall: A History of Redevelopment (Part II)

(originally published 1/30/20) Last week’s post told the history of The Landing, 1897 – 1950(ish). This week, we look at the property in the hands of the J.C. Nichols Company, which purchased it in 1946, but didn’t get around to developing it for quite some time. We concluded the last post with the official companyContinue reading “The Landing Mall: A History of Redevelopment (Part II)”

The Landing Mall: A History of Redevelopment (Part I)

(originally published 1/23/20) This is the first of a two-part look at the The Landing Mall, beginning with its history before the center was built. The site spent 50 years supporting a business, taking advantage of a natural setting that has long since been covered in pavement. But its fate would change with the arrivalContinue reading “The Landing Mall: A History of Redevelopment (Part I)”

From Trash to Treasure: Kansas City’s 1940 Tax Assessment Photos

(originally published 7/18/19) On the home front, we’re in the midst of a taxpayer revolt in Kansas City/Jackson County over what appears to be at a minimum a poorly administered property assessment. That event took my thoughts to the story of another tax assessment that almost 80 years after its completion has turned into aContinue reading “From Trash to Treasure: Kansas City’s 1940 Tax Assessment Photos”

Remembering Betty Tillotson

(originally published 7/4/19 In June 2019, I posted an excerpt from The Waldo Story, a piece on Betty Tillotson, a Waldo icon. In May 2020, passed away May 19, having reached her 97th year. That’s all I know, and all I need to know. The causes of death are never as interesting as the livesContinue reading “Remembering Betty Tillotson”

Finding Waldo’s Shadier Side

(originally published 6/20/19) A quick bit of backstory – The southern city limits of Kansas City moved from 47th to 77th Street in 1909, taking in the northern part of today’s Waldo. But Waldo as a community had been around since 1841, so there were already many businesses along Wornall Road, at least as farContinue reading “Finding Waldo’s Shadier Side”

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”

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”