On July 3, 1869, more than 40,000 people lined the banks of the Missouri River in Kansas City to witness the opening of the first bridge to span that major waterway.
As the ceremonies came to an end and the first train crossed the new bridge, the Kansas City Spirit was officially born.
That spirit has been in evidence for more than 150 years, as Bruce Mathews, photographer, author, and editor of The Kansas City Spirit: Stories of Service Above Self, explains on Thursday, October 4, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
Appearing with Mathews are his co-authors: Mamie Hughes, charter member of the Jackson County Legislature; Andrew Kaplan, executive vice-president of Commerce Bank; Christopher Leitch, area artist and curator; Lynn Mackle, writer and art historian; and Carol Powers, former arts and entertainment editor of The Kansas city Star.
Also participating is Library Director Crosby Kemper III, who wrote the forward for the book.
The Kansas City Spirit chronicles numerous defining moments for the city.
For example, on April 4, 1900, the city's magnificent new convention hall burned to the ground. The citizenry rallied to rebuild it in a mere 90 days, in time to host the scheduled
Democratic National Convention in July. The new building was dubbed "The Ninety-Day Wonder."
The Kansas City Spirit has often been in evidence during floods, when residents have shown the resiliency to come together and rebuild. Following the historic flood of 1951, Joyce C. Hall, founder of Hallmark Cards, commissioned the artist Norman Rockwell to illustrate our community's legendary spirit. His words to the artist were: "Paint a picture of The Kansas City Spirit that will forever symbolize that thing in good men's hearts that makes them put service above self and accomplish the impossible."
Published by Star Books, The Kansas City Spirit not only recalls some of these defining moments but examines the contributions and personal stories of a few of those whose lives exemplified that spirit.
Mathews and his colleagues maintain that The Kansas City Spirit should not be read merely as a history book. It is also a how-to book for future generations of Kansas Citians, giving examples of how to give back and make this community a better place in which to live.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th and Baltimore. RSVP online  or call 816.701.3407.
This event is underwritten by Gerald and Anita Gorman, Jim and Dana Bartimus, Morton Sosland, John and Mary Hunkeler, Mary Davidson Cohen, Steve Noll,
Bob and Lynn Mackle, Don and Adele Hall, Jim and Judy Heeter, John and Nancy Dillingham, Bob and Barbara Unell, Henry Bloch, Kenny and Ann Baum, Rick and Betsy Solberg, Bruce and Melanie Mathews, the Kansas City Public Library, Star Books, and the Kansas City Museum.