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1890s to 1940

Pendergast era The Pendergast era, under Democrat big city bosses James Pendergast and Tom Pendergast from 1890 to 1940, ushered in a colorful and influential era for the city. Pendergasts presided over an era when many outsize personalities shaped the city and contributed to the whole country. During this period, the Pendergast's ensured that national prohibition was meaningless in Kansas City; the Kansas City boulevard and park system was developed; the Country Club Plaza, Country Club District, and Ward Parkway were created; TWA made Kansas City the hub of national aviation; most of the downtown Kansas City buildings were built; its inner city culture blossomed with contributions to the Negro League (baseball), Kansas City jazz (music), Kansas City-style barbecue (cuisine), the stockyards and train station (industry and transportation) was second only to Chicago; and Harry S Truman, from nearby Independence, became President. Much of the construction during these "wide open days" used Pendergast Readi-Mix Concrete, and the era was marked by considerable violence and corruption. Pendergast was ultimately defanged with a 1940 income tax evasion charge. [edit]Prohibition See also: Alcohol laws of Missouri Kansas enacted statewide prohibition on February 19, 1881. In Kansas City, however, residents on the Kansas side of who wished to drink simply went across the state line to Kansas City, Missouri, to the many saloons and taverns there. 12th Street in Downtown Kansas City was known for its large number of taverns.[3] Despite the ongoing temperance movement, however, Missouri never enacted statewide prohibition.[4] In fact, Missourians actually rejected statewide prohibition in three separate referenda in 1910,[5] 1912, and 1918, all of which were brought by citizens' initiative petitions.[6] In April 1901, famous temperance crusader Carrie A. Nation came to Kansas City and began to enter the saloons on 12th Street and smash liquor bottles with her hatchet.[7] When she entere

Flynn's Saloon on April 15,[8] she promptly was arrested, hauled into Police Court (today the Municipal Court of Kansas City), fined $500 ($11,500 in 2006 dollars), and ordered by a judge to leave Kansas City and never return.[9] When prohibition finally was imposed on Missouri in 1919 by means of the 18th Amendment and the subsequent Volstead Act, Kansas City remained essentially unaffected, mostly due to the Pendergast machine.[10] Thanks to Pendergast, prohibition simply "never existed in Kansas City": Pendergast kept the bars open and the liquor flowing, and Kansas City's federal prosecutor (who was on Pendergast's payroll) never brought a single felony prosecution under the Volstead Act.[11] Dr. George Miller, the editor of the Omaha Herald, even remarked, "If you want to see some sin, forget about Paris. Go to Kansas City."[12] So, when prohibition finally was repealed in 1933 by means of the 21st Amendment, very little changed in Kansas City. [edit]World War I memorial The Liberty Memorial, which houses The National World War I Museum, was dedicated on November 11, 1926, by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge. In attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony on November 1, 1921, were Lieutenant General Baron Jacques of Belgium, Admiral Lord Earl Beatty of Great Britain, General Armando Diaz of Italy, Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France and General John Pershing of the United States. In 1935, bas reliefs by Walker Hancock of Jacques, Beatty, Diaz, Foch and Pershing were unveiled. [edit]Union Station massacre Violence and gangster activity proliferated during this time as well. On June 17, 1933, three gangsters attempted to free Frank Nash from FBI custody, but wound up killing him and four unarmed agents. This is known as the Union Station massacre. The gangsters had spent the prior evening at the Hotel Monroe, adjacent to Pendergast's office, and had received assistance in eluding a bribed police force from John Lazia, a major underworld figure with connections to Pendergast.