Friday, October 26, 2012

1940: 30 West Pershing Road

Another in a series of posts based on the tax reassessment photos of 1940. Learn more here

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Yes, some take the bus or drive cars, and more are flying than ever before. Still, Union Station is the portal of choice for travelers entering and leaving Kansas City.

They come and go via 12 passenger railroads, riding Rockets, Fast Mails, Pacific Limiteds. (Finest in Deluxe Travel, the ads promise.) Scouts, Rangers, Chicagoans. (Bigger, Roomier, More Powerful.) Chiefs, Super Chiefs, El Capitans. And – new this year – Eagles, Southern Belles and Silver Streak Zephyrs.  (Streamlined for Speed, Styled for Beauty, Designed to Provide the Most Luxurious Travel Service in the World.)

They are families, vacationers, folks looking for work. Politicians, businessmen, movie stars like Edward G. Robinson (starring this year in Brother Orchid) and Mickey Rooney (Young Tom Edison).  Architect Frank Lloyd Wright, with plans for a new church at 46th and Main. Hoofer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, starring in the road production of The Hot Mikado, the all-black stage revue from The New York World's Fair. Singer Marian Anderson, whose lovely contralto carried from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington last Easter, after a whites-only policy kept her from performing in Constitution Hall.

And an expectant mother from Chanute, Kansas. Her train pulls in at 10:30 p.m. At 10:45 she lies in the station's first-aid room. Next morning a paragraph in the Times carries the tiny headline:

Chanute Negro Is Mother of the Child

No names provided, but no matter. Another traveler – a boy, 7 pounds – has arrived in Kansas City.

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Watch the Kansas City Southern Railway's Southern Belle: