In The Loop: October 30, 2022
Your connection to Downtown Kansas City
See the web version of this newsletter here
It’s the one year anniversary of The Loop!
It was Oct. 29, 2021, that we published our first issue of the KC Downtown Loop. Since then we’ve published 53 “In The Loop” email newsletters plus a combination of 28 cartoons, photo galleries, breaking news reports, and special features including a look at Downtown dwellers’ cool homes, humor from Becky Brown, a list of haunted places Downtown from Jomel Nichols, and a teen’s perspective of First Fridays from Hannah Schuh.
In the coming year, we’ll be adding to our content with more special features, humor, and expanded coverage of Downtown. We’re also investigating other content platforms, and will keep you posted on that.
Special thanks to our amazing Founding Members and to everyone who has supported The Loop as a paying subscriber or as a loyal, free reader. Please spread the word, share the emails, follow us on social media @kcdowntownloop, and — if you haven’t done so already — consider supporting The Loop through a paid subscription.
Mayor Wheeler passes away
Charles B. Wheeler Jr., who served as Kansas City’s mayor from 1971 to 1979, died on Tuesday, Oct. 25. He was the first mayor I ever knew, leading the city from when I started Kindergarten to the end of my junior high school days. But after he left office, he continued to maintain a presence around town. Many people have stories of seeing him around the city — I often saw him at the former R.T.’s Deli at 31st and Oak — and he continued to champion causes for our city and for Missouri, such as building a bullet train between St. Louis and Kansas City (I liked the idea back then, and still do). I’m not sure why, but I always considered Mayor Wheeler our town’s version of Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City: A popular, quirky mayor with a sense of humor, grand ideas, and a real connection to the people of his city.
2012 photo of former Mayor Charles B. Wheeler by Mike Regnier.
And now, on to the The Loop….
Union Station opens; Union Depot closes
On this date in 1914, Union Station opened at Main and 24th Street (now Pershing Road). A celebratory parade was launched at 8th and Central that afternoon with plans to arrive at the station around the time of the 2:30 pm opening, when President Woodrow Wilson would press a button in Washington, D.C., that would unlock the station doors in Kansas City. Estimates were that 8,000 to 10,000 people showed up for the grand opening. Later that night, a fireworks show and “burning of old depot in effigy” were scheduled for 11 p.m.
Oct. 30, 1914, Kansas City Star
And speaking of the old station, Union Depot in the West Bottoms would close the next evening, Halloween 1914. A “ghastly” celebration on Union Avenue, where the old depot had resided since 1878, was mentioned in the Star with the headline, “OLD DEPOT WAKE TONIGHT,” adding that “…Union Avenue will make a night of it with bands and lights and liquids and a parade.”
Even in 1914, many in the city knew that the vibrance of the area around the old depot was threatened by the old station’s closing (not to mention the occasional flooding in the area). “When the depot is deserted, the Union Avenue it created is bound to go, too,” the Star wrote that day.
The last train to leave Union Depot was an 11:30 p.m. Frisco train headed to Joplin, Mo., and then on to Oklahoma. The depot was razed in 1915.
Union Depot, shown here in 1880, was opened in 1878 in the West Bottoms. Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Mo.
Mainstreet theater anniversary
Also on today’s date, in 1921, the Mainstreet Theater opened at 14th and Main. In 1985, the building was threatened by a developer with plans to demolish it and leave only the dome, but after years of remaining vacant and decaying (I recall trees growing on its roof), the city bought the landmark in 2004 in order to preserve it for an owner who would save the Downtown icon. In 2009, a development group that included AMC Theatres reopened the renovated building as the AMC Mainstreet Theater, part of the Power & Light District. Today, the venue is owned by B&B Theatres, a local movie theater chain, and is known as the B&B Theatres Mainstreet KC.
The seven-year-old Mainstreet Theater in 1928 (top) and the vacant, boarded up theater in 1995. Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Mo.
Jimi Hendrix performs in Downtown KC
Tuesday of this week marks the date in 1968 when The Jimi Hendrix Experience appeared for the first and only time in Kansas City, at Municipal Auditorium. Kansas City Star writer Peg McMahon reported that the show was unlike all others she had seen.
“All the standard concert rules were thrown away,” she wrote. “People were invited to smoke during the performance, to crowd the stand when Hendrix performed. By the end, thousands had left their seats and found themselves sitting or kneeling in front of the bandstand. There was no pushing or disorderly mess. They just wanted to get close.”
Jimi Hendrix at Municipal Auditorium, Nov. 1, 1968. Photographer unknown.
McMahon continued, writing about the near-religious experience that included about 10,000 in the audience.
“Remember the story of the Pied Piper? After last night, it was believable. Jimi Hendrix could have led that crowd down Main Street if he had wanted to…. It was like a revival meeting. There were no non-participants.”
Garth Brooks sells out nine shows at Sprint Center
This was also the week that Garth Brooks began his series of nine sold-out shows at T-Mobile Center (then known as the brand-new Sprint Center) in 2007. The first of the nine shows was held Nov. 5.
Brooks initially planned to do only one show in Kansas City, but ticket demand was so great that he added eight more. If not for previously scheduled obligations, Brooks probably could have added even more shows to sell out at that time.
The former Sprint Center, now T-Mobile Center. Public domain image.
In total, almost 160,000 tickets to the nine shows sold out in less than two hours. Brooks performed every night from Nov. 5 to Nov. 12, took a night off, then performed his final concert of the series on Nov. 14, which was simulcast live at more than 300 movie theaters nationwide.
Everything you need to know about voting on Nov. 8
The Kansas City Public Library has put together an excellent page of information related to the upcoming election: How to vote early, which ID is required to vote, links to help you research candidates and questions, and more.
Trick or Treat on the KC Streetcar
Trick-or-Treaters of all ages are invited to hop on board any streetcar tomorrow, Oct. 31, from 3 p.m to 4 p.m. for Halloween fun. KC Streetcar team members will be on board every streetcar, giving out candy to riders. Costumes are a plus, but not mandatory to participate.
World Cup watch parties will return to Downtown next month
Sporting Kansas City and the Kansas City Power & Light District are partnering to host official FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 watch parties! Watch parties will be hosted at KC Live! and No Other Pub for the entirety of the World Cup. Fans of all ages are welcome to cheer on their country in the Soccer Capital of America! Tickets are free and available to reserve now! More info here:
Final days of Ulysses Grant's Missouri: Exhibit closes after Nov. 2
Before Ulysses S. Grant led Union forces to victory in the Civil War and moved on to the White House, he spent six of the most formative years of his life in Missouri. That crucial period and Grant’s legacy are spotlighted in the exhibition Ulysses Grant’s Missouri, created by the Missouri Humanities Council and displayed at the Central Library as part of the bicentennial celebration of Grant’s birth in 1822.
The highway version of the “Downtown Loop” turned 50 last week
And, other than the Missouri Department of Transportation, nobody on Twitter seemed to be in a celebrating mood….
If you’re interested in diving deeper into the issues with the highway loop, check out this article from StrongTowns.org:
The American Legion Parade on Nov. 1, 1921, stretched from Ninth Street to 19th Street along Grand, and may have been the largest crowd ever gathered in Kansas City up to that time. News reports of the day estimated the number of spectators to be 250,000 or more. There were so many people on the sidewalks and in the streets that the parade was not able to proceed through Downtown until the police — and even Gen. John J. Pershing himself — convinced the crowd to make way. (The police used force; Gen. Pershing simply stood up in his car and made a pronouncement that nobody could hear, but it apparently worked.)
The tribute to veterans of the world war included dignitaries and visitors from around the world. Pictured here, the parade passes the reviewing stand near the Kansas City Star building, far left. On the far right, you can see the Firestone building, along with the Coca-Cola building — later to become the Western Auto building. (If you click this image on some devices, the photo will expand, or go here for larger versions.) Library of Congress
Artful City: One weekly selection with a Downtown connection
Warren “Stylez” Harvey, Peace Abound, 36” x 36” acrylic on canvas. Part of the artist’s “Texture: New Orleans Collection” exhibition opening this First Friday at 2000 Vine near 21st and Vine Street.
Downtown Lens: A single image depicting the urban aesthetic
If you’re visiting the Coffee Pot Forest across the street from the Roasterie Factory Cafe, head south to West 27th Terrace between Mercier and Holly streets and check out this cool mural entitled Friendship by artist Key Detail. You can even buy prints of this artwork on Etsy. 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….
Last day, Kansas City Symphony presents Symphonie Fantastique, Brahms and Mendelssohn with the KC Symphony Chorus at Kauffman Center
Kansas City Bridal & Wedding Expo, today at Bartle Hall
The Kingston Trio, tonight at the Folly
MONDAY the 31st
THURSDAY the 3rd
Kevin Hart at T-Mobile Center
FRIDAY the 4th
SATURDAY the 5th
Gloria Trevi at T-Mobile Center
23rd Annual Burning Sands Step Show at the Folly
Lyric Opera of Kansas City presents La traviata through Nov. 13 at Kauffman Center
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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