Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

Starting with this post and continuing here, I promise this is the last one using the set of photos from 1938 Kansas City. There are many reasons why I do this, but the main two are: I enjoy it and I feel like somewhat of an explorer, possibly drawing attention to the photos that haven’t been seen for many years if ever. Any old photos of this quality are fun to browse through but I especially enjoy finding the ones related to this area or to my previous life in the USSR. You may find all my previous photo-posts here.

Just like the previous batch, this one ends with some vintage NSFW, not that I am trying to compete with TKC, but the fact that a Life Magazine photographer even submitted these in the end of the 1930’s is in itself amusing. Interestingly enough, this is not a unique occurrence in the Life Photo Archives, I had few more shared in my post about the Persephone.

All the photos are linked to the larger images, feel free to click and look at the detail.

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert

Old Photos: Even More of 1938 Kansas City

© Time Inc. William Vandivert ffff

  • http://donna-justme.blogspot.com/ Donna W

    I’m not so surprised at the last ones. Didn’t you ever watch an old Mae West movie made in the early ’30’s? They were pretty raw!
    I wish I knew the locations for some of these shots.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4JFADVLK3ZDWZVFMXH6CKWVDJE Brian

    It’s interesting. The pictures of Kansas City back in 1938 made the city seem…bigger, better, more of a city. Maybe it’s the buildings, maybe its just photo magic. But, 1938 KC seemed like a city…not the giant suburb that it’s now.

    • http://kcmeesha.com kcmeesha

      Most of the cities looked like this around this time, from Moscow to NYC. I think it’s the amount of people on the streets, downtown crowds and street cars.

    • Janice

      If this is my Brian, your commit was right onthe nail. I remembe many of the buildings. The photo of the Jones Store was on the corner of 12th and Main St. My dad was on the detective on the KCMO police department. He had been with them as a young cop on the beat with a billy club in 1928 or 29. He was first on the fire department before joining the police department. Kansas City was pretty corrupt back in those days. The cars is what I remember the most. As a detective my dad was able to bring home the car overnight some times. If he did he would drive mom and me around the city on Sundays. Brings back a lot of memories especiall the photo of Katz. remember the one thecity had at Troost & Linwood Blvd. Sometimes I wish I could travel back to that time.

    • http://twitter.com/hikatie katie s.

      In 1938, it was.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/tacit.kc tacitus

    Nice work, once again. :)

  • ItravelforJOOLS

    Kansas City (and its suburbs) absolutely cannot let Union Station die. I think if more people would be exposed to what a landmark it is, they would be willing to help pay for its preservation. What is wrong with this town that they don’t promote and utilize this magnificent landmark?

    Really enjoyed the pics.

    • http://www.google.com/profiles/tacit.kc tacitus

      @Jools – The good news is Union Station is finally financially solvent: the bills are being paid, office space is rented out, restaurants are serving food, the trains are (usually) on time, and people are coming to the traveling exhibits. In this sense, Union Station has (finally!) been saved. And absolutely – additional promotion and ongoing utilization is critical.

      However, seeing the trend for so-called “Staycations” and the improving finances for Union Station, the city of Overland Park has moved to open a competing project in a strip mall at 135th and Nall. I hope Union Station continues to thrive: but it may be in spite of the suburbs, rather than together with the suburbs.

      • SuckaMahNutsYo

        suburbs will never have the style and nostalgia the real history of a location like Union Station has, you can’t fake honesty.

  • jjskck

    Thank you for this series. It’s great to see City Hall, P&L, and the Fidelity building (911 Walnut w/the twin turrets) in their youth.
    I wonder if the school in the 3rd photo is still standing…

    • http://kcmeesha.com kcmeesha

      you know I had an idea to contact Monroe Dodd, the author of Kansas City Then and Now books to comment on these, but couldn’t find his email (although I didn’t search too hard).

      • http://menstrom.tumblr.com/ Matt

        Dodd’s son is a friend of mine. He has a book out now about past crimes/investigations in KC that I’m really excited to read. The school in #3 looks very familiar. At first I thought it was the one I drive past on SW Trfcwy, but now I think that one is stone, not brick.

  • http://simplyjews.blogspot.com/ SnoopyTheGoon

    Interesting pictures. One technical point came to mind: it seems to me that the pictures of the beginning of the century made on glass plates and printed as contact prints were of higher quality than these of 193x… but I may be mistaken.

    • http://kcmeesha.com kcmeesha

      I can just see a photographer coming back after a trip with a truckload of glass plates.

  • Anonymous

    Could that be Tom Benton in the last photo, painting the nude?

    Love the shot of the Plaza; look how much it has changed over the years, before the parking garage was built (and the other structures on that block) and before the Neptune apartments, Macy’s (now Pottery Barn and B&N), etc. were constructed.

    Great photos, thanks so much for posting.

  • http://twitter.com/thedlc TheDLC

    I’ll do what I can here, downtown is not my strong suit but there are some photos that are fairly easy to identify.

    #5 is of course the downtown airport. There’s another view of the TWA terminal here: http://www.kchistory.org/u?/Askren,230. I would assume #4 is the same.

    #6 is probably the NE corner of 8th and Grand. That’s what the 1939 city directory lists as the location of Central Business College above Katz’s drugstore. It doesn’t list Katz as being there but they had 6 or so locations downtown alone so there ciould have been one there. Here’s what 8th and Grand looks like today http://goo.gl/maps/V0ew

    Below that is the original Federal Reserve Bank building at 1925 Grand. It’s still there:http://goo.gl/maps/CgOC

    The eagle statue is on Ward Parkway at 67th street http://www.kchistory.org/u?/Montgomery,2670

    The boys playing stickball or whatever are in the Woodswether Industrial District which is basically the north end of the West Bottoms http://www.kchistory.org/u?/Sanborn,1431

    Beneath that, Price’s Grill & Candy Co was at 1000 Walnut where this beauty sits today http://goo.gl/maps/6pKK

    The door that reads “Fred Harvey” probably refers to the owner of the Harvey House restaurants and is probably his office or something.

    The Jackson Democratic Club was a Tom Pendergast-run organization that ran its business out the Hotel Monroe building near 19th and Main. It’s still there, and still has the ‘Hotel Monroe” sign.

    The photos of the mansion and the one beneath it feel like Ward Parkway and 55th street area.

    Then you have the Plaza with all the cars in the middle, then the South lawn of the Nelson-Atkins, the a view of Swope Park.

    Tom Pedergast’s liquor distribution house supplied all the bars in KC and was how he made his money. It was at 5th and Delaware but I don’t think that building is standing still. His corrupt ways caught up with him in 1939 which perhaps was why these photos were even taken.

    That’s all I got for now!

    • http://twitter.com/hikatie katie s.

      That Pendergast building is actually at about 20th and umm Central? Maybe 19th. But just a few blocks from that SW Blvd/Broadway intersection.

  • http://twitter.com/massagebyted Adam Walker

    Here are my thoughts:

    6th photo: Based on what I could find about the location of Katz Drugstores and the Central Business College, I think that building was at 8th & Grand. It’s not there any more. (DLC beat me to the punch. Damn.)

    The old Federal Reserve building is still there, of course, though the Fed has moved to a new bldg by Liberty Memorial.

    The old guy looking across downtown is, I think, Henry McElroy. He was the first City Manager of KCMO after the city charter was changed. He got the job as a crony of Tom Pendergast. My guess is that the picture was taken from atop City Hall, which, along with the Jackson County Courthouse and Municipal Auditorium (visible in the center of the photo, just to the right of the P&L Building) was built during his administration. He was later indicted for fraud and embezzlement, but got sick and died before the case went to trial.

    Two pics below the Union Station shot is the City Council chambers, which look much the same today, although the furniture is crappier and the varnish has all taken on an unfortunate greenish tint.

    The office door marked “Fred Harvey” was probably on the 2nd floor of Union Station. Fred Harvey was the owner of restaurants in railroad depots throughout the west, including Harvey House (as noted by DLC), which was a whole hell of a lot more elegant than the sad “diner” that has occupied the same space in recent years.

    The mansion belonged to Tom Pendergast. It’s on Ward Parkway, between 56th & 57th.

    The street scene with the Katz Drugstore sign in the upper right appears to have been taken looking west from the intersection of 12th & Walnut. You can see the Jones Store to the south.

    The Jackson Democratic Club was Tom Pendergast’s hangout at 1908 Main. The building is still there; it’s owned by the Art Institute. Pendergast supposedly had some sort of secret entrance through the adjacent Hotel Monroe building.

    That could be Thomas Hart Benton painting the nude, although he would’ve been about 50 by 1938 and quite famous and why would he be in an art class with a bunch of young guys?

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