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The Wide Open Town Symposium, featuring presentations from professional historians and a keynote lecture at the Kansas City Public Library's Plaza Branch, explores this dynamic period in Kansas City's history. It is free and open to the general public.
The '20s and '30s marked Kansas City's transformation from a rough "cowtown" on the Great Plains into a modern city that boasted an expanding population, a developing urban core, and a cultural fluorescence best characterized by its vibrant nightlife and jazz scene. Kansas City established a national reputation in this period, prompting many modern observers to consider it the city’s "golden age." Underneath the gilded veneer, however, the era was marred by the political corruption that emerged from the Pendergast Machine, by the Great Depression, and by strained relations among the races and sexes. Even with a decidedly mixed legacy, this period largely defined Kansas City’s reputation for much of the 20th century.
Jason Roe, Ph.D., Digital History Specialist, Kansas City Public Library, email@example.com