The block between Main Street and Wyandotte, from 31st Street to 31st Terrace never contained many homes, but held a number of businesses that served the residents of Midtown. Auto repair shops, an ice company, and a popular softball park were all features of the block.
As part of our Uncovering History Project, the Midtown KC Post is taking a look at the 1940 tax assessment photos of each block in Midtown. (Many people seem confused by the tax assessment photos, which all include a man holding a sign. Here’s the story behind them).
Main Street Storerooms, Signs and Ambulances
From the earliest days, the corner of Main Street and Thirty-first Street was a key Kansas City corner, and even more so after the streetcar system made it an important transfer stop. In 1913, The Kansas City Star was reporting that 3102 Main Street “had been coveted for a long time by breweries and liquor dealers.” But parents at students attending Westport High School were concerned about the request for a liquor license there, because students often transferred from one car line to another at this corner.
The Southside Improvement District in 1914 located an outdoor municipal market on the corner. The idea, a Jan. 27 Kansas City Star article said, was to create “a meeting place for the consumer and the farmer.”
In the shops that fronted Main Street, businesses came and went quickly from around 1914 through the 1940s. Storerooms were used for selling radios, tailoring, and an electric company, as well as undertaking rooms, a barber shop and a wallpaper shop. From 1925 to the 1930s, a Piggly-Wiggly store there served the neighborhood.
The storerooms from 3110 to 3114 Main were home to a sanitary milk company, an apron shop, an auto livery, and a rubber manufacturing, among other establishments, from 1907 to the 1940s. The garage at 3116-18 burned completely in 1920, leaving a vacant lot.
Other shops along Main Street in 1940, seen in the slide show below, including the Electrical Advertising Company which made neon signs.
Pla-Mor Skating and Ice Company
Continuing around the block on 31st Street (or Spring Street, as it was called earlier), the large Pla-Mor amusement center spilled over from the south side of 31st. It was described as an amusement center to cater “to those Kansas Citians who want clean, wholesome recreations.” The Pla-Mor complex included bowling alleys, a ballroom, a swimming pool and a motion picture theater. In the late 1930s, this block drew crowds to the Pla-Mor softball park, where local leagues battled it out.
The rest of the buildings on the block (seen in the slideshow below) included the small house where rabbits were sold, the Regan Cleaning Supply Company, and several auto repair garages. A six-plex at 15 W. 31st served as the Veil Maternity Hospital in 1922, offering “private, ethical, modern, homelike” aid to “unfortunate young women” who could have their babies there and get help with adoptions if they liked. By 1927, the building had been converted to furnished apartments with kitchenettes.
Historic photos courtesy Kansas City Public Library/Missouri Valley Special Collections.
Do you have memories or more details about this area of Midtown? Please share them with our readers. Would you like us to focus on your block next week? Send us an email.
Our book, Kansas City’s Historic Midtown Neighborhoods, is available now. Let us know if you want us to come to your neighborhood association or organization’s meeting to share what we’ve learned about Midtown neighborhood history and tell your members how they can help preserve Midtown history. If you’d like to order the book, email Mary Jo Draper at email@example.com.