The very words "Kansas City" evoke images of barbecue, jazz, or perhaps the Chiefs. But ours is also a constantly changing community.
Prize-winning geographer James Shortridge examines nearly 130 years of change and how Kansas City came to look and function the way it does Kansas City and How It Grew, 1882-2011 on Sunday, November 11, 2012, at 2 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
Proximity to Great Plains ranches and farms encouraged early and sustained success for Kansas City meatpackers and millers, and Shortridge shows how local responses to economic realities have molded the city's urban structure. He explores the parallel processes of suburbanization and the restructuring of older areas, and tells what happens when transportation shifts from rivers to railroads, then to superhighways and international airports.
He also reveals what historians have missed by tending to focus attention only on one side or the other of State Line.
Shortridge's book is a virtual Who's Who of KC progress. Without selective law enforcement under political boss Thomas Pendergast, Kansas City would not enjoy its legacy of jazz. Without the gift of Thomas Swope's namesake park, upscale residential expansion likely would have gone east instead of south. Without J. C. Nichols, Johnson County suburbs would have developed in a less spectacular manner.
Kansas City and How It Grew offers insights into important city fathers, among them nearly forgotten names such as William Dalton, Charles Morse, and Willard Winner, plus important figures from more recent years including Kay Barnes, Charles Garney, and Bonnie Poteet.
Moreover, the volume is unique in treating the entire metropolitan area instead of just one portion. With coverage ranging from ethnic neighborhoods to development strategies, it's an indispensable touchstone for those who want to try to understand Kansas City as both a city and a place.
Shortridge is a professor of geography at the University of Kansas and author of five previous books including Cities on the Plains: The Evolution of Urban Kansas and The Middle West: Its Meaning in American Culture, winner of the American Association of Geographers' John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize.
Admission is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th & Baltimore.
This presentation is part of the Missouri Valley Sundays series, a program of the Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Central Library. The series is made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.