FIGURES SHOW SUBSTANTIAL GROWTH - AN ERA OF IMPROVEMENT - THE FLOOD OF 1903 - THE NEW CITY HALL - MUNICIPAL WATER WORKS - A MUNICIPAL ELECTRICAL PLANT - PARKS AND BOULEVARDS - KANSAS CITY POST OFFICE - NEW POST OFFICE BUILDING - STREET RAILWAY FACILITIES - FIRST INTERURBAN RAILWAY - FINANCIAL STRENGTH - HOTELS OF OLD WYANDOTTE - THE MERCANTILE CLUB - OTHER CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS - CHARITABLE AND CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATIONS.
The present system of street railway lines, embracing about thirty miles of double track operated by electricity of an assessed value of about $4,000,000, had its beginning with the old mule car lines in the seventies that were built by Dr. George B. Wood, Luther Wood, Byron Judd and a few other citizens. The Wyandotte line started at Nugent alley near Sixth street and pursued its way along Minnesota avenue to Third street, thence around the bend over Ferry street to the Kansas river, and down James street to Sixth street, now Central avenue. At the state line it connected with the Corrigan line to the Union Depot and to Market Square, over what is now the Fifth street division of the Metropolitan system. Another mule car line was built from Union avenue along Mulberry, Twelfth and Bell streets to the stock yards and en to Armourdale. Later this was extended to Argentine and formed the basis for the present electric railway to that part of Kansas City, Kansas. A third line ran from Nineteenth and Main streets along the Southwest boulevard to Rosedale. These three mule car lines, each having one terminal in Missouri and one terminal in Kansas, constituted the street railway system until eastern capital began to invest in public utilities in the busy western cities.
The first of these companies to be formed was the Inter-State Rapid Transit Railway Company, organized in December, 1883, and chartered to build a line or lines of railway between Kansas City, Missouri, and Wyandotte and other points in Kansas. Prominent among the incorporators were D. M. Edgerton and Carlos B. Greeley then of St. Louis, David G. Hoag of Wyandotte and S. T. Smith, Robert Gillham and James Nave of Kansas City, Missouri. The first election of officers was held on December 15, 1883, when D. M. Edgerton was chosen president, S. T. Smith vice president, and David D. Hoag secretary. The original capital stock was $600,000. It was afterwards greatly increased. The work of construction began in May, 1886, and in the following October trains, each consisting of a "dummy" engine and two small coaches, were operated from the Union Depot over an elevated structure to Riverview and thence on the surface to Edgerton Place at Fourth street and Lafayette avenue.
This road, promoted by its president, D. M. Edgerton, who had been receiver for the Kansas Pacific Railroad, was the first Kansas City enterprise of magnitude and it attracted world-wide attention. On March 22, 1887, the tracks of the Inter-State Rapid Transit Company were consolidated with various other lines which the company was then constructing, and a new organization was affected under the name of the Inter-State Consolidated Rapid Transit Railway Company. Work on the tunnel division of the line from the Union Depot to Eighth and Delaware streets in Kansas City, Missouri, was begun in May, 1887, and the trains began running in April, 1888. This was a gigantic undertaking, the tunnel having been cut through solid limestone, It was first operated by cable.
Meanwhile the company was busy on the Kansas side. The branch from Fifth street and Virginia avenue to Chelsea Park was opened for traffic on July 4, 1887. A cable line on Central avenue from Riverview west to Eighteenth street, was constructed and placed in operation in May, 1888. This is now the Central avenue-Sheffield line, one of the best in all Kansas City. These lines of the Elevated system operated by cable and dummy power for a few years, were equipped with electrical power in the nineties and then began a realization of the benefits of modern street railway service.
The Metropolitan Street Railway Company was organized and incorporated in July, 1886, by C. F. Morse, president; W. J. Ferry, secretary; A. W. Armour, treasurer. Its capital was $1,250,000, for which sum it purchased Thomas Corrigan's entire system of horse railways in Kansas City, Missouri, and its first operation consisted in the conversion of these railways into cable lines. The first line, from the Union Depot to the Market Square, Kansas City, Missouri, was opened to the public May 1, 1887; the second, from the state line to Wyandotte, ran its first through train November 1st, following over what now is the Fifth street line. The power house, at the corner of Ninth and Wyoming streets, was built in the winter of 1887. The Fifth street line of this company ran from Tenth street and Minnesota avenue to Market Square in Kansas City, Missouri, over the old mule car route. Another cable line was built by the company on Twelfth street down an incline and one to the stock yards around a loop, where it connected with the Armourdale line, operated by mule cars from the stock yards.
In 1892-3 the West Side Railway Company was founded and the West Side - now the "Wyandotte" - was constructed from Seventh street and Haskell avenue, in the north part of the city, to Third street, and thence, by way of Third street, Minnesota avenue and Fifth street, across the Seventh street viaduct, and down Kansas avenue to the stock yards.
By 1895, when it was apparent that street railway building had about reached the limit, a movement was started which ultimately resulted in the Metropolitan Street Railway Company absorbing or taking control of every street railway line in the two Kansas Citys. Then began a period of renewed activity, All the lines were equipped for operation by electricity and several important extensions were made.
Under a renewal of its franchise, in 1902, the Metropolitan Company constructed the line from James street over the James street viaduct to the stock yards. The line on Kansas avenue from Tenth street west to Eighteenth street was built and placed in operation. The Quindaro boulevard line of the Elevated system was extended from Edgerton Place to Nineteenth street, and, in 1911, to Quindaro. The Grandview line, now Central avenue, was extended to the City Park, and the Tenth street line, running from Minnesota avenue south to Kansas avenue and to the stock yards, was constructed. The company at the beginning of 1911 was preparing the construction of several important extensions and new lines.
In 1902 the Kansas City-Leavenworth Railway Company was organized by a company of Cleveland capitalists to construct an interurban railway between Kansas City, Kansas, and Leavenworth. The right-of-way had previously been obtained and while the railway was building a franchise was granted by the mayor and council for an entrance to the city from Chelsea Park to Fourth street and state avenue. The line was completed and put in operation in the following year. For a time it used a track built over the old Kensington route, on the west side of the city, to Grandview, entering Kansas City, Missouri, over the Grandview line. With the building of the great Inter-city viaduct in 1907, however, the entrance to Kansas City, Missouri, was made over the viaduct at Fourth street and Minnesota avenue. The company - the Kansas City Western - has fifteen miles of track in Wyandotte county. It is operated through to Fort Leavenworth, and owns and controls the street railway system of the city of Leavenworth.
The banking interests of Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte county, now represented by two national and sixteen state banks and two trust companies began with a little banking business established in old Wyandotte in the territorial days by A. B. Judd, while Northrup & Chick were conducting a banking business in Kansas City Missouri. Mr. Judd early disposed of his interest to his brother, Byron who conducted the business for a few years. After the Civil war Hiram M. Northrup started the bank in Wyandotte which afterwards became the house of the Northrup Banking Company and for many years the city's leading financial institution. It went down in the crash of 1893, a few weeks after the death of Mr. Northrup. Another bank of the early days was the First National, organized in 1871, with Byron Judd as its president. Others connected with the bank at the time were D. R. Emmons, who succeeded Mr. Judd as president, and I. D. Wilson.
The banks of Kansas City and Wyandotte county have suffered along with like institutions throughout the nation. The list, with capital stock and deposits, on January 1, 1911, follows:
|Name of Bank||Capital||Deposits|
|Citizens State Savings||25,000||350,000|
|First National, Bonner Springs||25,000||100,000|
|Farmers State, Bonner Springs||25,000||85,000|
|Commercial State, Rosedale||20,000||100,000|
|First State, Argentine||12,000||175,000|
|Night & Day State||10,000||80,000|
|Central Avenue State||10,000||130,000|
The list does not include the Interstate National Bank at the Kansas City Stock Yards, formerly a Kansas bank but now occupying quarters in the new Exchange Building in Kansas City, Missouri.
Our institutions have kept pace with the progress of these commercial and industrial interests and the outlook for the future is most promising. Bankers, business men and those in touch with the financial situation all agree that the city's future is bright.
William T. Atkinson, president of the Armourdale State Bank, is manager of the Kansas City, Kansas, Clearing House.
There were hotels in old Wyandotte wherein the guests were comfortably housed and well fed. There was the Catfish hotel, a log building, conducted by Isaac W. Brown, an Indian, in 1856-7. Among the guests there, were members of the government surveying corps under Mr. Calhoun, the surveyor general, who stayed at the Gillis hotel on the levee at the foot of Main street. There were many transients - people were coming and going all the time. A great many Indians used to patronize the house.
There was the Eldridge House, near what is now Fifth street and Minnesota avenue, conducted by Mrs. Arms, who was related to the Eldridges at Lawrence. It was headquarters for Free State people on the way from New England to Kansas. They took the stage there and many of the men noted in Kansas history stopped at the hotel. The old Augusta House was on the south side of Minnesota avenue, near Third street. It was run by A. C. A. Jost. There was a Wyandotte hotel on Nebraska avenue, near Third street, where many Kansas notables stayed while the constitutional convention was in session. The old Carno House, at the northwest corner of Third street and Minnesota avenue, for many years was a famous hostelry. There was another hotel in the early days which a few persons remember. It was the St. Paul. There was such a rush of immigration in the later fifties that many people had to live in tents and there were not enough hotels to accommodate them. Colonel R. H. Hunt bought the steamboat "St. Paul," which was anchored at the foot of Washington avenue, and fitted it up as a hotel. The St. Paul was crowded all the time and the service was fine.
The principal hotel in Kansas City, Kansas, at this day, is the Grund, a three-story fire proof building erected by George A. Grund, a pioneer citizen. It is the finest built and equipped hotel in Kansas, although perhaps not the largest. Also in the list may be included the Kelchner House, the Wyandotte hotel, Pennington hotel, Metropolitan, and the New Home.
Kansas City, Kansas, is fortunate in having among her numerous civic societies a live commercial organization, and it may be said that in the remarkable development of the Kansas metropolis in recent years the Mercantile Club has been a leading factor.
The Mercantile Club was organized in December, 1898, as the result of the efforts of Evan H. Browne, a progressive citizen of Kansas City, Kansas. Its announced purpose was to promote the commercial and industrial advancement of the city. W. A. Simpson was its first president, and succeeding presidents have been W. T. Atkinson, Edwin S. McAnany, Northrup Moore, Evan H. Browne, George Stumpf, J. W. Breidenthal, Benjamin Schnierle, W. T. Maunder, Dr. George M. Gray, C. L. Brokaw, Willard Merriam, G. C. Smith and P. W. Goebel. During its life of a little over twelve years its secretaries have been W. E. Griffith, James S. Silvey, Carl Dehoney, Donald Greenman, A. H. Skinner and P. W. Morgan, the present secretary.
Among the earlier activities of the club was its aid to our educational authorities in building up its splendid system of schools. It was instrumental in obtaining an appropriation by congress for the erection of a post office building after many years of delay, and of securing from Andrew Carnegie a gift of $75,000 for a library building.
The annual "Sunshine" trade-extension trip of its members for a series of years covered nearly every mile of railroad in the state, and in nearly every city and town the name and fame of Kansas City, Kansas, was made known.
The Mercantile Club was first and foremost in the agitation that led to the erection of a system of parks and boulevards, and has backed every movement looking to civic betterment. It supported the Kaw Valley Drainage Board in its fight to obtain those improvements of the river to protect the property in the valley from damage by overflow. It has stood for the enforcement of law, and when the city was defamed by misrepresentations as to the effect of the closing of the saloons, through the enforcement of the prohibitory law, its members were quick to set the American people right by a presentation of the facts.
It was the Mercantile Club that advocated the purchase of the Metropolitan water plant by the city, by which our people were enabled to obtain an abundant supply of pure water at reasonable rates; and it is able to point with pride to the successful operation of the municipal water plant and the earning of a profit, above operating expenses and interest charges, each and every month. It was the Mercantile Club also that advocated the acquisition of a municipal electrical plant, for which an issue of $350,000 of bonds was voted and which now is building, and it was that organization which got behind the movement for the new city hall now building in Kansas City, Kansas.
And it was the Mercantile Club, ever and always advocating efficient government, that led the successful fight for the inauguration of the system of municipal government by commission which, in one year of operation, has demonstrated that a city can be run on a safe and sane business basis.
The Mercantile Club has comfortable quarters in the Commercial National Bank building at Sixth street and Minnesota avenue, and its meetings, held twice each month, are open to all members and to the public.
Many other organizations have to do with the civic development. Among these are the Grandview Improvement Association, Central Avenue Improvement Association, and the Northwest, West Side and the Seventh Street and Ohio Avenue Improvement associations. These, while laboring each for the betterment of things in its own community, also work together and with other civic bodies for the general welfare of the city.
The Merchants Mutual Association, representing more than five hundred merchants, and the Trades Assembly, representing the many affiliated labor unions are exerting a strong influence for civic betterment.
The most potent agency in the city for the relief, care and betterment of the poor from a comprehensive point of view is the Associated Charities, which is a federation of practically all the charities of the city. The scope of work being conducted by this association is very broad, the three most essential features being relief, cooperation and prevention. It also maintains departments of investigation, registration, visitation and education. The most modern, up-to-date methods of rendering relief, both temporary and permanent, have been adopted in Kansas City; the measure of success to be attained will depend largely upon the degree of co-operation between the Associated Charities and the people of the city, and it is the duty of every loyal citizen to give this charity clearing house a trial. P. W. Goebel, president of the Commercial National Bank, is president of the Associated Charities, and G. M. Pfeiffer is its secretary.
The Children's Home, under control of a woman's board of managers, in doing so much for homeless little ones, appeals to the highest instincts of the women of the city, and all are loyal in their support of it. It has been conducted in the city fifteen years and has accomplished great good. A similar home for colored children is conducted by a board of women of that race.
Among other organizations that are doing good is the International Sunshine Society, which has recently taken over the Carrie Nation Home for Drunkard's Wives, established in 1902 and which failed for want of drunkard's wives to share its benefits. The building now is used as a Home for Girls.
Notable among the organizations in Kansas City, Kansas, having to do with the spiritual, as well as the intellectual and social, is the Young Women's Christian Association, which has a magnificent home at Sixth street and State avenue. Its beautiful work touches the lives of nearly one thousand young women who are its members. The Association conducts night schools for young women. It also has an extension department by which its work is carried on in many of the large industries. A strong movement also has been started for the organization of a Young Men's Christian Association in Kansas City, Kansas. A building to cost $100,000 is planned. An organization for negroes on similar lines has been effected and a building to cost $30,000 soon is to be erected.
The story of the history of other great institutions of Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte county - the churches, schools, societies, hospitals and the professions - is told in succeeding chapters of this work.
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