Kansas City History | KCUR

Kansas City History

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

In the annals of Wild West lawmen, you may not know Thomas Speers, the first police chief in Kansas City, but he was a legend in the late 19th century.

“He was contemporaries with 'Bat' Masterson, Wyatt Earp, 'Wild Bill' Hickok," says his great-grandson Clay Speers. "They would hang around when he was town marshal at the City Market square."

Segment 1: Germany's prisons emphasize rehabilitation and resocialization for their inmates.

Germany is doing a lot of things differently than the U.S. when it comes to criminal justice, and they've got a lower inceration rate to show for it. In prisons there, staff are trained in things like psychology and communication, and they're paid just as much as police officers. This is all to promote a reintegration approach, which focuses on returning inmates back into their communities. 

Segment 1: Jackson County legislators answer questions of current budget, property tax and working with county executive Frank White.

Jackson County lawmakers say recent budgeting and property tax issues have caused county residents to distrust their local government. Legislator Jalen Anderson attributed the root of the problem to a lack of transparency and communication between the legislative and executive branches. "The time for talking is done. There needs to be change now," Anderson said. 

He brings us local news highlights with his primetime public affairs TV program each weekand his journalistic experience spans from the BBC to Kansas Public Radio. Nick Haines is rarely the one answering the questions, but today he shares an exclusive look at what makes KCPT's Kansas City Week in Review happen every Friday.

Segment 1: A new documentary explores the life of abstract expressionist painter Albert Bloch.

Albert Bloch lived the final decades of his life in Lawrence, Kansas. But at the height of his career, he was a member of a band of artists that helped create modernism in Europe.

White Castle Dreams

Sep 16, 2019

If fast food is an American ritual, the hamburger is our "secular wafer." That's according to the author of a new book, Drive Thru Dreams. He says the story of fast food begins with the invention of the hamburger in Wichita, Kansas.

Segment 1: "All genocides ... begin with words," says one Emory professor concerned about a rise in anti-Semitic rhetoric. 

Anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world, concerning scholars and Jewish communities. Money that could be spent in programming and outreach is being redirected to security measures for area Jewish Centers. "The fear in the community is palpable," says Gavriela Geller, executive director for Jewish Commuity Relations Bureau-American Jewish Committee.

Segment 1: Mahatma Gandhi's grandson reflects on his family legacy.

As the world begins celebrating Gandhi's 150th birthday, Park University brings the iconic leader's grandson and biographer to town for celebrations and talks. The elder Gandhi sought to attain purity as a way of leading entire nations to peace; his grandson believes that we can contribute to that greater good, even while falling short of perfection in our lives.

Segment 1: New distilleries revive the past, with a twist.

Why was 9th street, in the West Bottoms, once known as the "wettest block"? Why did a spirits industry thrive here in the 19th century and then fade even before Prohibition? And what's it like to ride the slide at the new East Bottoms facility for J. Rieger & Co.?

Segment 1: The Kansas City Public School Board prepares for a new school year

Both new and returning school board members are preparing for the start of the school year next week. They talked about the timeline for accreditation, the inefficiency of charter schools and how the Jackson County reassessment issues are making an impact on the district. 

Segment 1: Kansas City Classics

Among the new and noteworthy restaurants populating Kansas City, let’s not forget those that came first and have stuck around for a while. We talk about the classic restaurants of Kansas City, which have set the standard for diners across the metro.

Segment 1: Busing to desegregate schools: then and now

For some, busing throughout the 1970s, '80s and '90s held a negative connotation. But education professor Erica Frankenberg and reporter Lynn Horsely say it ultimately benefitted students and communities, including Kansas City, Missouri.

Segment 1: As the tourism industry grows, so do questions about the impact of travel.

Are there ways to enjoy greater acess to travel while also treading more lightly on the destinations we visit? Or do we simply need to cut back?

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

The night of his high school graduation, Daniel Edwards and his friends looked out at Kansas City from a fourth-floor window at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy on 21st and Woodland. They could see vacant property in every direction, and as they prepared to head off into the world, they joked about coming back as grown-ups to buy an empty block and start their own neighborhood.

That's basically what Edwards and his wife Ebony are doing right now.

Portrait Session: Ebony And Daniel Edwards

Jun 21, 2019

They're both from Kansas City's East Side, but the couple met at a conference in Cincinnati, and they've been dreaming of making things happen for their community ever since. Their plans for a new neighborhood on a vacant lot are so ambitious that just getting a shovel in the ground to start building would be an achievement of national significance. Hear why.

  • Ebony Edwards, CEO, Movement KC
  • Daniel Edwards, architect, Movement KC

Segment 1: How conservative ideology could be bad for white Americans' well-being.

Sociologist Jonathan Metzl discussed how rightist policies for health care, guns and racial hierarchies could mean more health problems for whites. 

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

Updated, 11:15 a.m. Thursday: On Wednesday, the Kansas City council's finance and governance committee recommended that the the street name restoration measure, which would restore the Paseo name, be placed on the November 5 ballot. The full city council is expected to vote on the measure in two weeks.

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Micheal Logan remembers a time when blacks in Kansas City, Missouri, weren’t allowed to go south of 27th Street.

Seg. 1: The North Loop | Seg. 2: Molly Murphy

May 20, 2019

Segment 1: The North Loop

The creation of the North Loop redefined downtown Kansas City in the mid 1900's. How has this region of the highway system impacted our city's past, present and future?

Macjohn4 / Public Domain

When George Kessler drafted plans in 1893 for a parks and boulevard system in Kansas City, he created a model for cities throughout the world. From Mexico City to Denver and Indianapolis, Kessler had a hand in hundreds of projects.

Segment 1: Kansas City mourns the death of second major philanthropist in a week. 

Morton Sosland, who rose to run the publishing company that bears his family's name, died on April 25, just two days after he lost his friend and fellow city patron Henry Bloch. Friends recalled Morton's personality, generosity and legacy.     

Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library

Inasmuch as Detroit relied on automobiles, or Pittsburgh on steel, Kansas City once relied on a meatpacking industry that, in turn, depended on a multi-ethnic, low-wage, but organized labor force.

Segment 1: Concerns linger regarding Lake City Army Ammunition Plant.

The largest manufacturing plant for smaller caliber rounds is in Independence, Missouri. It suffered an accidental explosion in 2017 causing the death of one person and injuring four more.  Chris Haxel explained what contributed to the fatal event and the operation's questionable safety record under the current contractor.

Segment 1: Weird Weather Words.

Bomb Cyclone. Polar Vortex. Snowmageddon. If you've listened to weather forecasts as of late, there have been some really strange words. Why is that, and what do they mean?

  • Al Pietrycha, science and operations officer, National Weather Service

Segment 2, beginning at 15:23: KC's Culinary DNA

Google asked the question: where has Kansas City's food scene been and where is it headed? In this conversation, we find out how a local food critic answered.

The owner of Kansas City's oldest independent movie theater talks about his decision to close.

Jerry Harrington has been a boon to independent, documentary and foreign filmmakers for devoting the screens of The Tivoli to their work for 35 years.  He explained how he managed to grow the audience for these types of films, added innovative content over the decades and gifted Kansas City with the opportunity to see many of the greatest films ever made.

Historic Preservation Awards

Apr 8, 2019

Historic Kansas City recently gave out their annual awards to celebrate projects that preserve important pieces of our city's architectural past. On this episode, we learn more about what goes into preserving local history and meet one of the award winners, who turned a 128-year-old church in KCK into a boxing gym for kids.

Guests:

Segment 1: An iconic KCK neighborhood teeters on the brink of change.

Strawberry Hill overlooks the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, I-70, the West Bottoms and downtown. It's maintained its identity as a Croatian neighborhood, despite several waves of new arrivals and teetering on the edge of gentrification for more than a decade. Could that accelerate? And what would that mean?

Chicken & Egg

Mar 22, 2019

In a riff on the age old question about what comes first, this is a food show about chicken and eggs. Eggs come first, with a lesson on making Mexican-style eggs using the secret ingredient, which is love. Then the food critics lead a search for the best chicken dishes in town, whether you like it fried, roasted, broasted, boiled, in a sandwich or tamale, biryani or pot pie. 

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

A little more than a week after 10 longtime journalists took their leave from the Kansas City Star in what was seen by some people as a blow to local journalism, former police and courts reporter Tony Rizzo was enjoying his new-found free time.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Phil Glynn says he wants to be Kansas City mayor because he'd done as much as he could as an activist.

Today, we learned why Phil Glynn thinks his background in business and activism has prepared him to make improvements throughout Kansas City as mayor. "Too much of the focus has been on luxury developments downtown, not on our neighborhoods," the candidate said.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Marvin S. Robinson II has been trying for years to get some appropriate national recognition for the Quindaro Ruins. The site in Kansas City, Kansas, was originally a stop on the Underground Railroad, a network that assisted slaves in escaping to freedom.

Robinson and others have been pushing for the site to be named a national historic landmark. This week it received a slightly less prestigious designation as a national commemorative site, but Robinson says he's still happy.

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