Kansas City History

courtesy: Kansas City Parks and Recreation

The controversy surrounding Confederate statues and memorials across the United States has officials in Kansas City, Missouri scrutinizing one here. And it's in a very prominent spot: right in the middle of Ward Parkway, just south of 55th Street.

Chris Dahlquist

What do you expect to find at a vending machine? Soda or chips? How about a full-blown history tour?

That’s the idea behind photographer Chris Dahlquist’s exhibit History Vendor, located at City Market Park on 3rd and Main Street through mid-October.

frankieleon / Flickr - CC

Just because court filings suggest illegal opioid use is down in Kansas' wealthiest county doesn't mean its residents are unaffected by rising usage nationwide. Today, we'll find out what opiate use looks like in Johnson County. Then, we learn what exactly makes sports fandom such a big deal in Kansas City, whether it's for the Chiefs, the Royals or Sporting KC.

Kansas City Royals

John Schuerholz, the Kansas City Royals general manager when they won the 1985 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame Sunday in Cooperstown, New York, but he finds himself in the peculiar position of not receiving the Royals’ highest honor.

A talk with the creator and director of two new shows that are premiering at the Kansas City Fringe Festival this weekend. One show was inspired by a box of old letters; the other by folk music.

Plus: there used to be a poor farm at 119th and Ridgeview Road; it was another time period's model for helping the homeless. The story of Johnson County's poor farm and the attitude towards poverty that it represents.

Guests:

Charvex / Wikipedia Commons

The J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain is named after a man who did great things for Kansas City. However, his achievements were accompanied by racist beliefs and policies that still divide us. Today, the Ethics Professors discuss whether we should rename monuments that honor historic figures whose standards don't pass contemporary moral muster. Then, we explore the gray area of political free speech for public educators.

News-Press & Gazette Company

The Northland’s Liberty Tribune newspaper, one of the oldest weeklies in the country, recently rolled off the printing press for the last time. Since 1846, residents had unfurled their own paper published under the motto, “Willing to praise but not afraid to blame.”

However, with circulation figures in slow decline, a merger with the Kearney Courier and the Smithville Herald allowed the owners, the News-Press & Gazette Company, to cut costs.

Three positions are gone, bringing total staff down to 15. The Smithville office has also closed.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

When Makeda Peterson was growing up, history was personal to her.

Her father, Horace Peterson III, founded the Black Archives of Mid-America. He also started Kansas City’s Juneteenth celebration in 1980.

As a current organizer and coordinator of Juneteenth KC, she is continuing his legacy.

Public Domain / Detroit Free Press

Five decades ago, social unrest gripped cities across the country, at one point even spilling into the streets of Kansas City. Today, we find out what the "long, hot summer" of 1967 can teach us about race relations and cultural diversity in present-day America. Then, host Steve Kraske brushes up on his Shakespearean script-reading skills with veteran acting coach and director Ian Wooldridge.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

Winding 10 miles north and south through the heart of Kansas City, Paseo Boulevard, or "The Paseo," is the longest and one of the oldest boulevards in the city. But before we had The Paseo, and all the other parkways and boulevards that have come to define the city, Kansas City was basically a congested metropolis that was hard to get around. 

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.

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