Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression

Sports and Entertainment

From the Kansas City Monarchs African American baseball team to cartoonist Walt Disney and painter Thomas Hart Benton, the Pendergast Years were an especially rich era for artistic and cultural production that extended far beyond its famous jazz style. Learn more about the prominent people, places, and events that helped give Kansas City a distinctive identity.  

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During the 1890-1930 heyday of vaudeville, a number of female impersonators enjoyed impressive, successful careers and became household names across the country. Even during 1920s Prohibition, the tradition expanded into nightclubs and cabarets and drew enormous crowds in large cities like New York and Chicago. American entertainment tastes started to become more conservative, repressive oversight of liquor consumption followed Prohibition’s 1933 repeal, and female impersonation almost immediately disappeared from “legitimate” and cabaret stages throughout the United States. But in wide-open Pendergast-era Kansas City, female impersonators remained popular until the late 1930s.

Dante's Inferno interior

 

KANSAS CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY | DIGITAL HISTORY
Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict,1855-1865.
The Pendergast Years, Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression.
KC History, Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Kansas City Public Library.