Kansas City History

The DLC / Flickr -- CC

Why is the Paseo Boulevard named after a street in Mexico? And how did this road help shape our city? We explore the history of what some people consider KC's first boulevard, and we find out what's in store for the future of this picturesque roadway.

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Sports fans in Kansas City and beyond are generally a forward-thinking bunch — “There’s always next year,” goes the rallying cry. But what keeps fans coming back for more is a healthy sense of history and, as commentator Victor Wishna explains in “A Fan’s Notes,” an occasional blast from the past. 

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

When Issac Logsdon moved to Kansas City for art school four years ago, he didn't know the Missouri and Kansas rivers flowed through town.

"It seems like that should be such an important understanding of this city," Logsdon says. "The Missouri’s where we get all of our drinking water. Ecologically, it's incredibly important to this city and this region. But as someone who’s living in the city, I can go most days without ever really recognizing that it’s here."

Courtesy Historic West Bottoms Association

It’s hard to tell the story of Kansas City’s West Bottoms without lapsing into a folksy, fairytale-quiet voice: Once upon a time two rivers met in a place that was both Kansas and Missouri…

Yes, and long ago it was called the French Bottoms because that’s where the French and Native Americans traded.

Two hundred years later, “trade” is one of the newer components being reintroduced to the four square-mile tract that makes up the West Bottoms, about 30 percent of which is in Kansas. Dining is already well-established.

With its short brick buildings and narrow alleyways, Westport is one of the iconic places in town — it's where the city began. But two new proposals have people worried: there's one for a six-story apartment building, and there's also talk of privatizing some Westport streets at night.

What is the character of Westport, and to whom do those streets belong?

Guests:

Claire Tadokoro / KCUR 89.3

Since its establishment in 1997, the Charlotte Street Foundation has distributed over $1.1 million to provide resources for Kansas City artists, including unrestricted grants and free exhibition and studio space. Today we examine what impact the foundation has had in strengthening and maintaining existing local talent, and in attracting it from around the country.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Missouri historic tax credit program, a development tool that’s revived scores of landmark buildings, is facing its most serious challenge in years, putting such major projects as the redevelopment of Kemper Arena in jeopardy.

Celeste Lindell / Flickr — CC

In February, the beloved Prairie Village card shop Tiffany Town closed after 52 years. Central Standard's Gina Kaufmann remembered the store as the "aesthetic of childhood in the '80s," and as the place to get birthday gifts for classmates.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

It's been nearly 30 years since six Kansas City firefighters were killed in an explosion after responding to a call about a truck on fire. A few weeks ago, Bryan Sheppard, one of five sentenced to life in prison, was released, because juvenile sentencing laws have changed since the time of the then 17-year-old's conviction. We check-in with Sheppard on life after prison.

A local musician on the surprisingly complex history of the trumpet, then a look at the iconic stores that defined a time, a place and a way of life in Kansas City.

Then, remembering the life of local historian Joelouis Mattox.

Guests:

Joelouis Mattox, one of Kansas City's most prolific and recognized historians, was found dead of natural causes Tuesday morning at his home, according to friends and colleagues. He was 79.

Mattox held the title of historian for many local agencies and organizations, including Kansas City's Historic Preservation Commission and the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center. He wrote and spoke frequently about Kansas City's history, as well as local and national African-American history.

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

The long-running effort to recreate the Kansas City Museum as a major local history museum entered a new phase Monday with the announcement of $1 million in private commitments pledged toward a total of $15 million in private and public money city leaders say is needed to restore the property to "its former glory."

Doug Kerr / Flickr -- CC

It runs from Baltimore to Provo, Utah, and the 1985 World Series was nicknamed after it. And did you know that they started building the very first stretch of it in Missouri, but the first section to be completed was in Kansas? A look at how Kansas and Missouri have been shaped by I-70.

Plus, we hear from a woman who has driven a stretch of I-70 so much that she wrote a song about it.

 

Guests:

Courtesy of Sherie Randolph / sheriemrandolph.com

One day, about 20 years ago, Sherie Randolph was sitting on her couch, flipping through TV channels, when she saw something unusual.

It was footage from the 1960s or 1970s of a black woman in a cowboy hat chasing Daniel Patrick Moynihan and "calling him a racist sexist bastard," Randolph recalled.

"Of course, I knew who he was, but I didn't know who she was," Randolph told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

Rob Shenk / Flickr -- CC

A look at how Missouri deals with its Confederate past. Plus, the reaction to a newly-published Confederate memoir by a Clay County soldier.

Guests:

Clay County Museum & Historical Society

The American Civil War ended more than 150 years ago, but those old divisions still affect us today. There’s perhaps no better example of this than Missouri, a border state claimed by both the Union and the Confederacy. The ongoing struggle to deal with this history recently came to light when the Clay County Museum and Historical Society in the town of Liberty, published an old diary.

Mid-Continent Public Library / http://www.nelson-atkins.org/calendar/film-step-plaza/

You've probably driven through this cute little neighborhood between Westport and the Plaza, with its bungalows with stone porches. But you may not know that this neighborhood used to be called Steptoe — and it's where freed slaves built new lives for themselves. Hear more about this historic area and the project to collect and preserve its oral history.

Also: Remembering Latino civil rights leader Gilbert Guerrero.

Guests:

Kansas Collection / The University of Kansas

The Chiefs’ latest loss in the NFL playoffs began another year of collective waiting for Kansas City – and for the entire region that wears red and lives and dies red, too.

Dies? Consider the obituaries in The Kansas City Star, where a remarkable number list as one of a deceased’s noteworthy attributes “avid Chiefs fan.” In this part of the world, following the fortunes of the Chiefs has ranked as one of the great pleasures. It has been that way more than half a century.

David Jones / Flickr -- CC

Before you pack away your Chiefs gear: A look back at the history of the team and how they helped shape KC.

Plus, Question Quest discovers why people keep leaving little bird figurines around a statue in Brookside.

Guests:

  • Monroe Dodd, KCUR's resident historian
  • Joel Thorman, Editor, Arrowhead Pride

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Why do you get one Tater Tot in your order of fries at Winstead’s?

According to Kathy Fern, the general manager at the Winstead’s near the Plaza, that’s not a mistake.

About five years ago, they started adding the lone tot as a promotional thing, but then it stuck. It’s something they strive to do with each order, she said, though that renegade tot doesn’t always appear.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Actor and Late Night Theatre director Ron Megee says he isn't out to change the world.

His troupe, where men often play women and vice versa, performs campy spoofs on popular television shows and movies. And camp, he says, "is a frame of mind."

"We're putting something up on stage and twisting it to the point of humor," Megee says.

When Anthony Ladesich found his father's youthful correspondence with an old Navy friend on a stack of reel-to-reel tapes, he also found so much more: a portal into Kansas City's jazz history, and a way of keeping his dad with him a little longer.

Plus, for the first time ever, a student was admitted to UMKC Conservatory's composition program using the computer as his instrument.

This is an encore edition of Central Standard.

Guests:

Kansas City has made quite a name for itself as a foodie town. We're internationally known for our barbecue, and our chefs are getting nominated for James Beard awards.

But it wasn't always this way. We used to call ourselves a cowtown, back when steakhouses were our specialty, and only vacations held the promise of 'adventurous' food. So how did we did make it onto the map as an emerging food town, up on, even ahead of, the latest trends?

Guests: 

A lot of people see Black Lives Matter as today's civil rights movement ... but not necessarily the Kansas Citians who actually participated in the civil rights movement. Is there a rift in KC between an old guard and new in black activism?

Guests:

The Gay & Lesbian Archive of Mid-America/Labudde Special Collections, University of Missouri-Kansas City

A common misconception about the history of American gay activism is that it began on June 28, 1969.

That date was the beginning of a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by the gay and lesbian community in New York City after a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Those much-publicized riots are considered a catalyst in the fight for LGBT rights.

But an equally potent gathering took place three years earlier — in downtown Kansas City.

Kansas Citians love their Chiefs. But the game of football has been harshly criticized, for the slew of injuries and the enduring mentality that causes them. We hear from a few people working to change the game, including one UMKC professor who has designed a new football helmet.

Also, ahead of an event at the Black Archives of Mid-America, a local historical tour guide shares stories of the late Felix Payne, an influential man who transformed the political identity of black Kansas Citians in the early 20th-century.

Jessica Spengler / Flickr

The food of Kansas City has a life story to tell. Author Andrea Broomfield tells it. The origins of Kansas City chili, tamales and tailgating, an affinity for dining al fresco and cinnamon rolls, and what local beer has to do with our sports teams and stadiums. Every food tradition can be explained through the lens of history.

Guest:

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

This story first appeared on KCUR's Question Quest. You can find the episode here or wherever you download podcasts.

Lots of people have stores they remember going to when they were a kid— for you maybe it was the video store, the arcade, a comic shop, an ice cream stand or corner store.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

This story first appeared on KCUR's Question Quest. You can find the episode here or wherever you download podcasts.

The DLC / Flickr -- CC

How do you tell a city's history? We talk with the head of one of the city's largest and most important historical collections on his last day on the job.

Guest:

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