18th and Vine

Credit Neil Nakahodo for KCUR

  

In this ongoing series, KCUR 89.3 explores the past, present and future of the historic 18th and Vine District. 

C.J. Janovy

Kansas City's 18th & Vine Jazz and Blues Festival filled the air behind the American Jazz Museum with music and barbecue smoke from early in the afternoon until late at night on Saturday, Oct. 11. The jams also went on all day inside the Gem Theater and the Blue Room. 

Although the American Jazz Museum brought in national talent including Roy Hargrove, Meshell Ndegeocello, Lucky Peterson, Jessica Care Moore and Midnight Star, plenty of area acts had stage time as well.

What Is That? Kansas City's Vine Street Castle

Jul 24, 2014
Esther Honig

If you’ve ever driven around the historic 18th & Vine neighborhood in downtown Kansas City, Mo., you might have noticed what looks like a castle. It appears as though it housed Missouri royalty, but in fact this four-story structure, chiseled out of yellow limestone, was originally designed as the city jail.

Built in 1897 with the title of “workhouse castle,” it held mostly petty offenders, vagrants and debtors. As a part of their sentence these inmates were required to work. Female prisoners sewed prison uniforms and the men labored for the city’s Public Works Department.

Terance Williams / Facebook

When Glenn North read a poem at the grand opening for the American Jazz Museum in 1997, something clicked.

From that moment on, the poet and the museum grew in tandem.  In 2004, North officially joined the museum's staff, establishing a nationally recognized spoken word scene at the museum's Blue Room.

North recently left his post as education manager and poet-in-residence. He plans to finish his master's degree and focus on his poetry.

Upon his departure, Central Standard invited him to sit down for a talk. Among the highlights:

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

For years, the old YMCA building was an eyesore at the entrance of the 18th and Vine District. But over the last few years, the façade has been restored and the windows replaced. And, on the south wall, a giant mural has gone up of the legendary baseball player, coach and keeper of the Negro Leagues flame Buck O’Neil. 

The Negro Leagues got their start in Kansas City, when eight independent black baseball teams met at the Paseo YMCA in 1920. Buck O'Neil played for the Kansas City Monarchs, and had a major role in opening the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

For more than eighty years, the small two-story building at 1823 Highland Avenue has been the heart of Kansas City jazz. 

Singer Myra Taylor was one of the last living links to Kansas City's jazz heyday of the 1930s. Taylor died Friday, December 9, 2011 at the age of 94.

According to The Kansas City Star:

Taylor had been under hospice care at the Swope Ridge Geriatric Center, 5900 Swope Parkway, for more than three months, said her manager, Dawayne Gilley. Her final performance was July 24 at Jardine’s, 4536 Main St., where she performed with the Wild Women of Kansas City, a jazz vocal quartet.

    

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