In The Loop: October 16, 2022
Your connection to Downtown Kansas City
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This week, our Almanac section commemorates two events in Downtown history that both happened on today’s date in 1949….
Downtown gets a Macy’s
The department store at 11th and Main known as John Taylor’s since 1881 was re-dedicated as a Macy’s department store on this date (also a Sunday) 73 years ago. A 15-month, $7 million expansion and remodel doubled the size of the John Taylor store, and an estimated 300 people showed up to celebrate the event.
The John Taylor Dry Goods Company pre-1949. Detail of photo from Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Mo.
The Sunday edition of the Kansas City Star devoted an entire 24-page section that day to the opening of Kansas City’s version of the New York-based retail chain.
The actual grand re-opening of the Downtown location — when customers were invited to enter the store formally known as “Macy’s Kansas City” — would be the next day.
The new Macy’s Kansas City, date unknown. Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Mo.
The opening of Macy’s Kansas City earned a story in the business section of the Oct. 16, 1949, New York Times.
TV hits the air in KC
Later that evening of Oct 16, 1949, more history was made in Kansas City when WDAF-TV, then owned by the Kansas City Star, began broadcasting at 6 p.m. (In addition to test broadcasts beginning on Sept. 11 of that year, the station informally went on the air — for one night — on Sept. 29, 1949, when President Harry S. Truman’s speech was broadcast from Municipal Auditorium. Regular programming, however, didn’t begin until Oct. 16.)
The Star put it straight and simple in the one-sentence lead paragraph of its front-page story that afternoon: “Television starts tonight.”
In addition to a brief dedicatory program at the beginning of the broadcast that evening, the station also went live to the American Royal Livestock and Horse Show, aired a 10-minute salute to the new station from NBC, and ran a 30-minute program entitled “The Story of WDAF-TV.”
Following that, a special episode of “Arthur Godfrey and His Friends” was broadcast specifically to celebrate the new Kansas City station — the second TV station to sign on in Missouri (the precursor to KSDK-TV in St. Louis being the first, in 1947).
WDAF-TV studio facilities — now known as FOX 4 — have remained on Signal Hill on the south edge of Downtown since 1949.
The first local sports broadcast — aired the next evening — was an hour’s worth of amateur boxing from the World War II Memorial Building at Linwood and the Paseo.
Because not everyone owned a television at the time, it was predicted by the Star that many of the TV sets that did exist “in homes, offices, restaurants, taverns and other places” would be surrounded by 20 to 30 viewers each.
WDAF-TV, Channel 4, would have no commercial competition until 1953.
October Surprise of 1996
Although not limited to Downtown, it was 26 years ago this Saturday that Kansas City experienced an unexpected snowstorm that brought up to 6.5” of snow to some areas of the metro. The typical October snowfall averages .02” for the entire month. Oct. 22, 1996, remains the snowiest October day on record for our town.
Oldest building on Main gets a 3-year stay
The City Council voted unanimously to give historic designation to the buildings at 31st and Main this week, providing the buildings protection from demolition for three years. Among the buildings is the 1888 Jeserich Building. The buildings’ owner, Doug Price of Price Brothers Management Co., says he will make no improvements on the buildings during the three protected years — and then will tear them down. Price is the same person who in 2016 tore down historic apartments on the Country Club Plaza designed by renowned architect Nelle Peters (the space remains an empty lot used as a dog park), and just this summer tore down a building near Walnut and 31st. KCUR 89.3 FM tells more:
18th & Vine Progress
KC beer history intersects Downtown history
To help celebrate KC Oktoberfest, the Kansas City Public Library and Missouri Valley Special Collections highlighted the city’s German-American and beer brewing history, much of which happened in the greater Downtown vicinity. Read more here:
Bavarian Brewing Co., c.1884, 14th and Main streets, Downtown Kansas City.
Two Downtown beers among nation’s best
Beers from City Barrel Brewing Co. in the Crossroads and River Bluff Brewing in the River Market join BKS Artisan Ales in Brookside as winners at the Great American Beer Festival competition held in Denver earlier this month. Details from the Star:
River Bluff Brewing (left) and City Barrel Brewing Co.
Advertisement in the Oct. 16, 1899, Kansas City Times, promoting the National Hereford Exhibition — in a tent at the Kansas City Stockyards. The show was the very first event of what would become the American Royal. Today, the American Royal Livestock Show is still held in the West Bottoms at the American Royal Complex, but the organization plans to move its headquarters and build new show facilities in Wyandotte County, Kan., in the coming years. The 123rd American Royal Livestock Show is currently happening Downtown through Oct. 23.
Artful City: One weekly selection with a Downtown connection
Adams Puryear, Wizard Tower, 2022. 108" x 28" x 28," ceramic, lighting hardware, enamel paint. Part of the Lamplighters exhibit at Vulpes-Bastille, 1737 Locust. Gallery hours from 1-4 today and Sunday, Oct. 23. Closing reception Saturday, Oct. 22. from 6-8 p.m. Photo: Max Wagner
Downtown Lens: A single image depicting the urban aesthetic
Modern Communication, a bronze sculpture by artist Terry Allen, was first installed in front of the City Communications Center in 1995, but is now located between Kansas City Police Department headquarters and the Municipal Court (near a newer Communications Center entry) across the street from City Hall. The Loop
Who are all these people?
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….
Kansas City Ballet presents Giselle today, then Oct. 21-23 at Kauffman Center
Man of La Mancha through Oct. 23 at Music Theater Heritage
FKJ at the Midland
Violinist Maxim Vengerov at the Folly
American Royal Livestock Show through Oct. 23 at the American Royal Complex
MONDAY the 17th
Oracle Cerner Health Conference, today through the 19th at Bartle Hall
TUESDAY the 18th
WEDNESDAY the 19th
THURSDAY the 20th
World Ballet Series: Swan Lake at the Folly
SATURDAY the 22nd
Harriman-Jewell Series presents Scottish Chamber Orchestra With Nicola Benedetti, Violin at Kauffman Center
Highly Suspect at the Midland
A New World: Intimate Music from Final Fantasy at the Folly
Maya the Exhibition: The Great Jaguar Rises, most days through January 1, at Union Station
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
For live Kansas City Jazz performances, visit LiveJazzKC.com
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
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