Snapshot in time: When Main Street was poised for change from residential to commercial

[slideshow_deploy id=’18601′]Back in 1922, the Kansas City Star was predicting that Main Street was poised to change from primarily a residential street to a commercial one.

Although it seems strange now, the new neighborhoods of the “south side” such as Hyde Park were Kansas City suburbs then. As the city boomed and grew, more and more people moved south out of the downtown area.

Main Street was not the commercial thoroughfare we known today. Instead, it was lined with the large homes of wealthy Kansas Citians like William McLeod, seen in the photo above. His luxurious home stood at 3601 Main, on the corner of Humbolt Street in Hyde Park.

But that was all about to change.

In 1922, the Star said, the stars were lining up for a fundamental transformation of Main Street’s role.

“Main Street is passing from a residence street to a business thoroughfare and the indications are, this essential business character will be pronounced from Westport avenue north to the riverfront,” the paper wrote. “Real estate activity is marked on South Main Street, even in advance of the extension of Linwood Boulevard to Hunter avenue, an improvement expected to have a decided effect of the character of Main street from Hunter avenue south.”

“Each year sees more interest in suburban business centers. This is due in part to the growth of the city and in part to the fact the motor car has made an ambitious outlying center something more than a transfer point and a neighborhood market.”

As evidence of the growing interest in Main Street as a commercial center, the paper pointed to a dozen recent sales of property around 39th and Main, including the leasing of a three-story building that would house the new South Side State Bank.

Another area that was seeing change was Thirty-first and Main,

“Linwood boulevard is the boulevard home of apartment houses and family hotels, but it is inevitable that it will essentially be a business thoroughfare at the Main street, Robert Gillham road and Troost avenue intersections,” it predicted.

The second photo above shows Main Street a decade or so later, looking north from 40th Street. The Star was right: business was booming.

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