Kansas City history was frozen in time in 1940, when local agencies took photos like this one for a public works project.
The survey of all standing, taxable buildings in Kansas City was undertaken by the Jackson County Tax Assessors Office and other local agencies.
“The project produced more than 40,000 images of residences, businesses, schools, churches, and government buildings, including many structures that are no longer in existence or would not have otherwise been photographed,” according to the Kansas City Public Library’s website. “The images consisted of small, black-and-white contact prints mounted on block record cards. Each card represented one city block and contained photographs of all properties within those block boundaries. For the purpose of identification, an indexing system was created, which allowed for complete accounting of every property in the city. The identification number was displayed on a sign in front of each building photographed, and a WPA worker is often seen holding the sign or standing nearby in the frame.”
The photos used to be housed at the Historic Preservation Commission, but in 2012 they were moved to Missouri Valley Special Collections at the downtown library. They’ve now been digitized by the library and are available online.