Working-class families from Sweden, Missouri and Kansas lived on this West Plaza block in 1940. Residents of the block had a variety of jobs: salesmen, flour mill hand, marble cutter, machinist in a canning factory, upholsterer, piano tuner, landscaper, bookkeeper, radio serviceman, railroad freight clerk, and barber.
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. This week we’re focusing on a block from Mercier to Terrace, from 45th to 46th in the West Plaza neighborhood. (Many people seem confused by the tax assessment photos, which all include a man holding a sign. Here’s the story behind them).
The area was developing around 1907, when newspaper ads hawked lots in the Holly Garden subdivision. For $5 a month, they claimed, a family could buy land “in the most slightly addition overlooking the beautiful Westport district.”
Proximity to the streetcar line, just two blocks away, was a selling point, and in fact, the land office for the real estate company offering the lots was conveniently located at the end of the streetcar route.
The quiet block of small bungalows and other compact homes looks much the same today (in this recent Google maps view) as it did in the 1940 slideshow below. Its residents were young families, many with several children and often with mothers, sisters and other relatives living together. Most of the residents had been born in Kansas and Missouri, although residents also came from Austria, Italy and Brazil. Like many other folks in this part of town during that time, several families had come to Kansas City from Sweden.
The slideshow bellows shows the homes of the block as they looked that year.
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.