go to content go to search box go to global site navigation

Kansas City

History

KC began life in 1821 as a trading post but really came into its own once westward expansion began. The Oregon, California and Santa Fe trails all met steamboats loaded with pioneers here.

Jazz exploded in the 1930s under Mayor Tom Pendergast’s Prohibition-era tenure, when he allowed alcohol to flow freely. At its peak, KC had more than 100 nightclubs, dance halls and vaudeville houses swinging to the beat (and booze). The roaring good times ended with Pendergast’s indictment on tax evasion and the scene had largely faded by the mid-1940s.

KC was a bustling farm-distribution and industrial center for generations – a serious cowtown, though its giant stockyards closed in 1991.