Kansas City civil rights activist Alvin Sykes first encountered former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn in 2007, when Coburn was stalling the Sykes-backed Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act.
Sykes sought and got a meeting. The two men talked. And Coburn dropped his opposition, opening the door to the Till Bill’s passage in September 2008. He paid tribute to Sykes as a difference-maker on the Senate floor.
Coburn left office at the end of last year. He and Sykes, who educated himself and still does much of his research in local libraries, recall their history and Sykes’ lifelong work in a public discussion moderated by Library Director Crosby Kemper III. The event is part of the Library’s Scholar-in-Residence Lecture Series.
The proposal to add a new 800-room hotel to Kansas City’s convention-hosting amenities reaches a critical juncture on the afternoon of Thursday, July 23, when the city council is expected to vote on whether to move the $311 million project forward. Would it be good business, boosting the city’s convention prospects? Or is the cost, including tax incentives, too high and the return on investment too iffy?
Hours before the council meets, the Library hosts a public forum on the much-debated issue. Among the participants: Heywood T. Sanders, one of the country’s foremost experts on urban development and author of the cautionary book Convention Center Follies: Politics, Power, and Public Investment in American Cities. He maintains that heavy investment in convention facilities across the country—including the expansion of Kansas City’s Bartle Hall—mostly has failed to deliver promised new jobs, private development, or tax revenues.
Current and newly elected council members have been invited to attend.
Can a recently announced, 800-room Hyatt hotel, scheduled to open in 2018, boost Kansas City’s convention prospects when it opens? The city has invested heavily in its downtown convention center – from Bartle Hall’s $144 million expansion in the 1990s to a $150 million upgrade completed in 2007 – and yet business has lagged.
Heywood T. Sanders, one of the country’s foremost experts on urban development, notes that KC is not alone. In a discussion of his book, Convention Center Follies: Politics, Power, and Public Investment in American Cities, he notes a nationwide surge in convention center development in the past two decades amid promises of new jobs, private development, and tax revenues. In Boston, Orlando, and elsewhere, the returns have similarly been limited. So why does the building continue?
Sanders is a professor of public administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
From its earliest days as a fur-trading outpost to its heyday as a livestock center and current configuration as a city of pet lovers and barbecue aficionados, animals have been central to Kansas City’s identity and landscape. In fact, KC can more accurately be described as a “zoopolis,” a multi-species urban location, than a standard metropolis.
Local geographer Julie Urbanik lends new a new way of looking at our city, examining the web of past and present connections between its human and animal inhabitants and recasting the traditional, human-centric stories that portray people as the only principals. In essence, she says, Kansas City would not be Kansas City without its animals – cattle, horses, mules, and even the zoo’s popular polar bears, Nikita and Berlin.
In July 1974, an estimated 100,000 members—and probably more—of the Woodstock generation descended on the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia for a weekend of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Amid the sweltering heat and the sounds of such popular bands as the Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and REO Speedwagon, they effectively overwhelmed the beleaguered town.
While considered the era’s “forgotten festival,” the episode still stirs both hard feelings among locals and fonder memories for its (then) youthful concertgoers.
PGAV Architects’ Mike Schaadt and Kimberlee Ried of the National Archives at Kansas City explain how the Federal Historic Tax Credit and adaptive reuse technology allowed the Adams Express Building, previously a freight storage structure, to be converted into an archival facility used by the National Archives.
The Library’s annual summer Off-the-Wall film series takes filmgoers Down the Rabbit Hole, celebrating movies about people cast into strange, through-the-looking-glass lands. In Labyrinth, a girl (Jennifer Connelly) braves a magical maze of muppets to rescue her baby brother from a glam-rock Goblin King (David Bowie.)
Matthew Christopher has spent the past decade documenting the ruins of one of the greatest civilizations the world has known: our own. The Pennsylvania photographer catalogues abandoned structures in pictures and words, lending a haunting beauty to factories, theaters, churches, and prisons now vacant and left to the elements and vandals. They are places that once helped define communities’ identities.
Christopher, who features the images in his new book, Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences, discusses his work and its underlying importance. “I am dismayed,” he says, “at the prevailing blindness … that prizes a handful of nails or pottery fragments from an early colonial settlement but ignores sites that are still above ground and critical to preserving the accounts of accomplishments and missteps over the last century.”
Lyndon Johnson had the misfortune of following the handsome, martyred John F. Kennedy into the White House and then miring his country in
Vietnam. Driven, compulsive, occasionally crude, he was an easy target for his many critics.
He also was the architect of a lasting economic and social revolution, pushing through Medicare, the Voting Rights Act, and other reforms as part of an ambitious Great Society agenda that reached high tide 50 years ago. Joseph A. Califano Jr., Johnson’s chief aide for domestic affairs from 1965-69 and later Secretary of Health Education and Welfare in the Carter administration, delivers an inside look at our 36th president in a discussion of his book The Triumph & Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson: The White House Years. The New York Times Book Review says “Johnson leaps out of the pages in all his raw and earthy glory,” while The Washington Post calls it “a joy to read [and] of what anecdotes.”
From Hyde Park to Westwood, Troostwood to Crestwood, Sunset Hill to Center City, Kansas City’s Midtown neighborhoods boast a unique charm born of their development as the streetcar suburbs of an expanding city. In a discussion of her new book, Kansas City’s Historic Midtown Neighborhoods, Mary Jo Draper of the Midtown KC Post uses vintage photos in examining the history and character of the area stretching from 31st to 55th streets and State Line to The Paseo.