In The Loop: July 10, 2022
Your connection to Downtown Kansas City
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It was on today’s date in 1934 that “political leader” and Pendergast Machine ally Johnny Lazia was shot and killed in the driveway outside his apartment home near Armour Boulevard and Gillham. Attackers with machine guns and a sawed-off shotgun were waiting for Lazia when he and his wife Marie, along with Lazia’s driver and bodyguard Charles Carrollo, returned to the Park Central Hotel apartments around 3 a.m. on that Tuesday night. The gunmen opened fire as Lazia stepped out of the back seat of the car.
Lazia, who had so much influence over the Kansas City Police Department that he supposedly had an office at police headquarters Downtown (in addition to his North Side Democratic Club office at Fifth and Grand), was reportedly shot eight times and died later that afternoon from a loss of blood. He was the only one harmed, as Carrollo heeded Lazia’s instructions to drive Marie to safety. (Many accounts of the evening claim that Carrollo’s wife was also with the Lazias, but a grandchild of the Carrollos claims that her grandmother was not there.)
The murder was never solved, although some believe that Lazia’s alleged involvement in the Union Station Massacre—bringing national scrutiny to the Pendergast political machine in Kansas City—may have been cause for Boss Tom to want to “eliminate” the source of that problem. Another theory (perhaps better characterized as a rumor) was that Lazia, a figure in bootlegging alcohol, had had a recent dispute with local beer tavern operators and was targeted after that conflict. Some believed that out-of-town gangsters wanting a piece of Kansas City’s market could have been the culprits. There were other theories as well. It’s also of note that Carrollo took control of Lazia’s crime syndicate following the hit, so maybe there was a motive there, too?
In any case, thousands of mourners lined the funeral procession and attended Lazia’s services at Holy Rosary Church in Columbus Park. The July 13, 1934, Kansas City Star suggested that, in total, as many as 20,000 people may have viewed the body at Lazia’s sister’s home, along the funeral procession, at the church, and at the burial. It was considered by many to have been the largest funeral in Kansas City history at the time.
This week marks the week in 1951 when the Great Flood of 1951 reached its crest in the Kansas City area, flooding over 40-foot levee walls toward the Argentine and Armourdale districts in Kansas City, Kan., and the West Bottoms district on the Missouri side (then known as the Central Industrial District). Flooding on Southwest Boulevard led to tanks of flammable liquids dislodging, floating, and exploding.
Almost every one of the 400-plus businesses in the West Bottoms received extensive damage. Witnesses observed livestock—dead or alive—floating throughout the district or stranded on structures that stood above the water. The Kansas City Stockyards, second in size only to that of Chicago at the time, never fully recovered, dwindled in stature over the following decades, and closed in 1991.
Although more than 5,000 head of livestock drowned at the Stockyards, only five people in the Kansas City area were killed by the flood. However, thousands of residents, particularly on the Kansas side, lost their homes—and their jobs—due to the flood washing both away.
Today, an improved levee system has been built and continues to be enhanced, allowing more safety and development in the West Bottoms and elsewhere.
See the “Archive” section below for photographs of the Great Flood of 1951.
The Kansas City Fringe Festival, showcasing the work of local, national, and international artists who work in theater, dance, film, music and visual arts, begins this Friday. The two-week-long festival’s 277 performances at 13 venues are non-juried and non-censored.
Downtown venues this year include:
Bird Comedy Theater, 103 W. 19th
The Black Box, 1060 Union Avenue
The Black Box Outdoor Stage, 1060 Union Avenue
Bolender, 500 W. Pershing Road
City Stage, 30 W. Pershing Road
Stray Cat Film Center, 1662 Broadway
Union Station Grand Hall, 30 W. Pershing Road
Upside Bungee, 1101 Mulberry
Non-Downtown (but nearby) venues include:
The BOT (BlackBox On Troost), 4001 Troost
Center for Spiritual Living, 1014 W 39th
Sparkle Room, 817 Westport Road
Unicorn Theatre, Jerome Stage, 3828 Main
Westport Bowery, 817 Westport Road
Westport Coffee House, 4010 Pennsylvania
To look up a show, check out this link:
General information about the 2022 KC Fringe Festival, including how to get tickets to shows and attend parties, can be found here:
Big thanks to KC Parks for returning our green spaces to places that we can all enjoy following the Fourth of July weekend.
Sharing a cool skyscraper concept posted on KCRag.com, an online forum for urban development nerds like me (and maybe like you?):
From an essay at Sothebys.com, written by Dr. Henry Adams, regarding Missouri artist Thomas Hart Benton’s attempt to get more relief for victims of the Great Flood of 1951:
“Thomas Hart Benton's painting Flood Disaster, also known asHomecoming—Kaw Valley, was painted in response to [the Great Flood of 1951], in a conscious effort to enlist popular and Congressional support for a flood relief program.”
The artist produced 531 hand-signed lithograph copies of the painting to hand out to every member of Congress to illustrate the disaster and emphasize the need for a major expansion of the flood relief program.
Amazingly, despite Benton’s fame, many copies ended up in Congressional wastebaskets, and the expanded relief package that Benton had envisioned was not passed. Missouri Representative Richard Bolling retrieved a number of the discarded prints and auctioned them off to support victims of the Kansas City flood. For the whole story, visit this Sotheby’s link:
It was a hot July night in 1970 when The Who performed at the former Pla-Mor facility, by then renamed the Freedom Palace. In addition to the air conditioning not fully functioning, the show was apparently interrupted by several power outages, and supposedly an extension cord was eventually run across the street to a building with more reliable power. I appreciated, among other things, that the threatened historic buildings at 31st and Main could be seen in this photo, distant right (best viewed on a larger screen).
Artful City: One weekly selection with a Downtown connection
Quick Clip: The city in motion—just a few seconds at a time
Downtown Lens: A single image depicting the urban aesthetic
Answering the question “Who are all these people and where are they going?”, The Loop brings you a list of some of the biggest events happening Downtown each week. Please give a friendly Downtown-Kansas City welcome to audiences and attendees of….
Dino and Dragon Stroll at Bartle Hall
THURSDAY the 14th
FRIDAY the 15th
Nelly at KC Live! Block
SATURDAY the 16th
The Champagne at KC Live! Block
For a more exhaustive list of everything happening Downtown, go to the VisitKC events page and use the “regions” function to search for Downtown, Westside/Southwest Blvd, West Bottoms, River Market, Power & Light, Crown Center, Crossroads, 18th & Vine—or anywhere you want to go in the KC Metro
Until next week—enjoy the city!
Got a tip or question about Downtown KC?
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Kevin Worley, Co-Publisher/Editorial
Joe Nichols, Co-Publisher/Business
Hannah Schuh, Intern
107 W. Ninth Street, Suite 210
Kansas City, MO 64105
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