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Kansas City History

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Segment 1: Some residents say big, new homes on small, old lots are changing the nature of the Kansas suburb.

Home teardowns are not a new problem in Prairie Village, but the issue is receiving a lot of new attention. Today, we asked city leadership how they would strike a balance between property owners' ability to build what they want on their own land, and preserving the look and feel of what's long been known as a modest, affordable community.

Segment 1: A talk with Kevin Willmott about his new film.

"BlacKkKlansman" just won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. It's based on the true story of a black cop who infiltrated the KKK in the 1970s. We catch up with the KU professor who collaborated on the film with Spike Lee.

Segment 2, beginning at 17:09: Looking back at the filming of "Kansas City."

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: From 2001 to 2013, more than 1,300 phone calls to attorneys from prisoners at a Leavenworth detention facility were improperly recorded.

Considered a bedrock of the American justice system, KCUR reporting has uncovered what appears to be repeated attorney-client privilege violations at a privately-run detention facility in Leavenworth, Kansas. Today, we discussed the ongoing investigation into the improperly recorded phone calls, some of which were shared with federal prosecutors, and considered the implications of the alleged breaches.

Italian Food In Kansas City (R)

Jun 4, 2018

Hear the story behind a classic Kansas City restaurant, then visit a new cafe that's located inside an antique mall. Plus: we revisit our Food Critics' search for the best Italian food in and around KC, from beloved old-school favorites to interesting new takes on the cuisine.

Guests:

Segment 1: From Abilene to KC: The history of Sprint.

It's a multi-billion dollar company with thousands of local employees. But did you know that Sprint got its start in Abilene, Kansas? Over a century ago, a farmer-turned-businessman started stringing lines through town and bought up local independent telephone companies. Hear how the company grew from there.

TIMELINE: Sprint's 120 Years In Kansas City

May 11, 2018
Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri.

The Sprint campus in Overland Park, Kansas, was inaugurated in the late 1990s. It's a collegial brick complex surrounded by lawns and trees, and built to house about 14,000 employees. Today, more than 6,000 Sprint workers occupy the company's headquarters, and some of the space is leased to other businesses.

Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Segment 1: Douglas County voters are deciding on a contentious tax increase for jail and mental health services.

Image from the National Register of Historic Places application.

First off, breathe easy Kansas City history buffs.

The inner sanctum of the Savoy Grill, that 1903 time-capsule of dark oak woodwork, terrazzo floor, Old West murals and Harry Truman’s Booth No. 4, returns when the $47.5 million renovation of the Savoy Hotel is completed this summer.

Yes, the adjoining dining room — a 1960s addition, by the way — is getting a contemporary upgrade, although the original columns, ceiling and floor will remain.

Tim Amundson / Turkey Creek Institute for Phenomenology

The Central Avenue Bridge, erected a century ago, is only 22 feet wide. The level that remains open to traffic sits in the shadow of the deck above, another 22 feet away. Driving across it, from Missouri into Kansas or Kansas into Missouri, feels like an act of loud levitation.

Paul Sableman / Flickr - CC

Segment 1: Schools in the Shawnee Mission district have been accused of stifling expression during student demonstration.

During last Friday's national school walkout, parents and students at several Shawnee Mission schools reported that administrators attempted to curate and censor student speech. These complaints have spurred an investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas. Today, we asked what happened during the demonstrations, and how the school district is responding.

Segment 1: How people in the Midwest cope when they have a fear of storms.

Spring in the Midwest means blooming flowers and warmer weather ... and also tornado siren tests and scary storms. What is it like for someone with a phobia of severe weather?

Meet a Leawood fifth grader who is one of five finalists in a nationwide contest for her invention, The Storm Sleeper. However, kids aren't the only ones afraid of storms; we hear about astraphobia and the adults who suffer from it.

Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

When Alvin Brooks told his father that he wanted to be a police officer, his dad’s first response was, “Why do you want to get into that mess? You know how they treat us.”

Brooks was determined. He became one of Kansas City's few black officers in 1954.

Carolina Hidalgo / File/St. Louis Public Radio

Segment 1: The processes threatening, and protecting, Missouri's governor.

Tensions are high in Jefferson City as lawmakers continue calls for Eric Greitens' resignation but, as the governor faces possibly career-ending felony charges, ensuring fairness is paramount. Today, a veteran journalist discusses the systems in place to guarantee justice for the governor, and for the state of Missouri.

Segment 1: The National School Walkout In North Kansas City.

A check-in with our reporter, who covered today's National School Walkout from Oak Park High School.

Segment 2, beginning at 5:41: A Portrait Session with Alvin Brooks.

The Old Quindaro Township in Kansas City, Kansas, finally may be getting the recognition it deserves.

Between 1857 and 1862, Quindaro was a busy commercial port on the Missouri River. It was a mecca for abolitionists and settlers and considered a melting pot of Indians, European-Americans and freed slaves.  New England progressives came in the hopes of making Kansas an anti-slave state. It's best known as an important stop on the Underground Railroad.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of KCUR — and we're celebrating by sharing the story of how our station came to be. From humble beginnings in a house to the nationally-respected news outlet we are today, we pause to remember all the interesting quirks, bizarre oddities and colorful characters that comprise our station's history.

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

On April 9, 1968, five days after the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., civil unrest in response to long-standing racial tension broke out in Kansas City. But what really happened 50 years ago? Last week, KCUR hosted the panel "Reaction or Riot?: Understanding 1968 in Kansas City" for community members to share their own experiences and recollections. Today, we revisited that conversation about the ways our city has — and hasn't — changed in the last half century.

Segment 1: A new art exhibit encourages people to write down their wishes.

A group of local artists has created a public altar at the Kansas City Public Library, where visitors are invited to write down their wishes and leave objects of personal significance. One of the artists behind this project shares his vision for it.

Segment 1: A Screentime show on Love, Simon.

Love, Simon is the first big-budget romantic comedy for teens where the central love story is between two boys. We hear what the movie means to Kansas Citians.

Segment 2, beginning at 36:43: A new coloring book features women from KC history.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

At Union Station Tuesday morning, city and community leaders unveiled the official logo for Kansas City's "Creative City of Music" designation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Designed by Hallmark artist John Wagner, the logo features a trombone, with the letters 'KC' formed out of a drum and drumsticks. The image was inspired by James Weldon Johnson's poetry book 'God's Trombones,' which he wrote after being moved by a church sermon during a 1918 visit to Kansas City.

LaBudde Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library / UMKC

The photographs tell a story in themselves: images that feel familiar because we recognize our city in the background, and all too familiar because we still see agitated people, most of them black, fleeing through clouds of tear gas or standing alone in front of police lines.

But the photographs don't tell nearly enough of the story. That's because the images in the 1968 Riot Collection at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Library don't have enough information.

LaBudde Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library / University of Missouri-Kansas City

He was murdered almost 50 years ago, so fewer Kansas Citians these days might know the name Leon Jordan. But he was one of Kansas City's most important civil rights leaders, and at one point his homicide was the Kansas City Police Department's oldest cold case.

Chr. Barthelmess / Library of Congress

Anyone who has even a hazy memory of Bob Marley's song "Buffalo Soldier" knows the broad historical brush strokes of the African-American soldiers.

"Stolen from Africa, brought to America," the song goes. "Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival."

The full history is more complicated.

Courtesy of the Kansas City Public Library

Henry Fortunato, a charismatic shaper of Kansas City's intellectual and history communities, died on Monday. He was 62.

Fortunato's most high-profile role was as public affairs director at the Kansas City Public Library from 2006 to 2015. During his nine-year career, the library said in a statement, Fortunato "revolutionized library programming" and, working with Library Director Crosby Kemper III, helped the library earn local, regional, and national attention.

On our First Friday arts show: a local artist has been keeping a dream journal for over 40 years. In his new exhibit, he's brought recurring objects from his dreams to life through sculpture. Then, we talk to the star of a one-woman show about fashion icon Diana Vreeland, and a band conductor on how his group keeps the Kansas City sound alive ... and how they're taking a step to address the gender imbalance in jazz.

Guests:

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Lonnie and Ronnie McFadden, of Kansas City's McFadden Brothers, grew up at 19th and Euclid, on Kansas City's east side. They've been a tap-dancing duo for as long as they can remember. But it wasn't until long after the art form went out of style that they made it their own — and made it cool

"We grew up in a household that was probably about as close to Norman Rockwell as I've seen to this day," says Lonnie, remembering the elaborate hot meals his mom used to make before working evenings at a country club.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

While Kansas City has a long tradition of black artists, their work tends to get overlooked, says textiles artist Sonié Joi Thompson-Ruffin. Today, we learn about a community project that's giving these local creatives online posterity. Then, we hear excerpts from a conversation with Democratic Missouri Rep.

Shawn CMH / Wikimedia Commons

At the turn of the 20th century, two sisters who were determined to provide medical care to Kansas City's underserved kids founded what became a local institution. Today, we learn about the women behind Children's Mercy Hospital. Then, jazz vocalist Deborah Brown reflects on her Kansas City roots and a music career that's led her around the world.

Sunflower Development Group

An old Kansas City Public Schools building that’s been sitting empty since 2010 will be soon be repurposed into affordable housing for seniors.

Sunflower Development Group broke ground Monday on the Blenheim school site at Gregory and Prospect. Director of Development Mark Moberly says old schools can easily be converted into residential housing because they’re already subdivided into classrooms. Sunflower has already completed one KCPS renovation, the Faxon School Apartments.

naturalflow / Flickr -- CC

What makes a song a Kansas City song? We revisit the classic "standards" that once defined the KC sound. Plus: a local writer takes us on a tour of the nearby breweries, distilleries and vineyards on both sides of the state line.

Guests:

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