Kansas City, like other American cities, added new suburban-style developments at its edges during the early decades of the 20th century. What makes it a unique case for understanding this shift is the character of Jesse Clyde (J.C.) Nichols. Born in Olathe, Kansas, in 1880, Nichols had a career that spanned the first half of the 20th century, and included transforming thousands of acres of land into a planned suburban community.
Thomas Hart Benton, one of the leaders of the Regionalist movement in American art, was a prolific painter, muralist, draughtsman, and sculptor from childhood until the end of his life in 1975. Today he is best known for his realist depictions of American life, which, in his own time, were perceived as directly opposed to modernist movements cultivated in Europe. His paintings, largely vignettes of daily life and ordinary rural characters, were simultaneously praised for their frankness and criticized for their gritty representations of American culture and history.
On December 7, 1940, the U.S. Army Air Corps announced that the Fairfax Industrial District in Kansas City, Kansas, would host a North American Aviation B-25 bomber production plant to prepare for the possibility of the United States entering World War II. The medium-sized bombers would eventually prove crucial to the American strategic bombing campaigns in the European and Pacific theatres.
An autochrome photograph of J. C. Nichols's residence, taken from the south. Nichols was a nationally influential real estate developer.
An early J. C. Nichols Company sign located on Brookside Boulevard by Countryside Park. In the background is the "Rock House" located at 5230 Brookside Boulevard. This vantage point faces west on Brookside Boulevard between 52nd Street and 53rd Street. The sign reads: "1000 Acres Restricted, Country Club District, Highly Developed and Protected Residence Property, water, light, gas, etc., attractive prices, J. C. Nichols, High Class Residence Property, 1213-14 Commerce Bldg.".
View of Jesse Clyde Nichols home at 1214 Santa Fe Road (now 1214 West 55th Street). This vantage point faces east-northeast towards the residence from just north of Santa Fe Road between State Line Road and Ward Parkway.
J. C. Nichols Company salesmen organization, taken on the terrace of the J. C. Nichols home at 1214 W. 55th Street. This vantage point faces north towards the residence from just north of Santa Fe Road (now 55th Street) between State Line Road and Ward Parkway.
This picnic oven in Indian Hills was a favorite spot of Mr. Nichols, and the family often spent an evening here. Mr. Nichols is shown bringing the firewood, Ernest Holt tending the fire, Miller and Eleanor with one of the family dogs around a tub of water, Jake Scott standing at the fireplace, Grace Carlson seated at far right, and Clyde Nichols and another of the family pets seated on top of the fireplace.
Formal presentation of Arbor Villa Park, developed by the J. C. Nichols Company. Pictured are J. C. Nichols and Shannon C. Douglass, President of the Armour Hills Homes Association. This vantage point faces north-northeast near the southeast corner of the intersection of 66th Terrace and Main Street.
The Kansas City Welcoming Committee to Secretary Patrick J. Hurley and party under the auspices of Missouri River Navigation Association. Mr. Nichols can be seen in the back row, fourth from the left.
Most any morning about 8:30 found Mr. J. C. Nichols entering the office at 310 Ward Parkway. Iron grillwork originally on the main doors was removed because doors were too heavy to be pushed open easily. This vantage point faces north on Ward Parkway between Central Street and Broadway Boulevard.
Directors and sponsors of the 1933 Country Club District Community Field Day, held on Southwest High School campus. Shown are John L. Shouse, George D. Melcher, J. C. Nichols, Miles C. Thomas, Howard E. A. Jones, Albert H. Monsees, and H. Merle Smith. This vantage point faces southeast towards the Sixth Church of Christ Scientist at the corner of 66th Terrace and Wornall Road from near the Southwest High School football field.
This picture of the Plaza Dog Mart was taken looking west-northwest from atop the J. C. Nichols Company Building. Country Club Plaza merchants sponsored a dog mart where people interested in buying a dog could see and inspect many breeds of dog. This dog mart was located at the future site of the Plaza Medical Building.
J. C. Nichols and his friend, J. Emmett Woodmansee, in an informal pose.
This picture of the J. C. Nichols Company building was taken looking northeast on the north side of Ward Parkway just west of Central Street.
J. C. Nichols inspires his sales force at one of his company's morning meetings.
Letter from Harry S. Truman to J. C. Nichols. Truman states that it would not be prudent for the federal government to interfere with Kansas City labor issues. Instead, he suggests contacting the Director of Police in Kansas City.
Letter from J. C. Nichols to one of his investors and friend, Jeanette Lee. Nichols discusses his efforts at curbing unions in Kansas City in an effort to further his developments. Nichols also discusses Kansas City's lack of significant growth at the end of the 1930s. After citing causes of this, Nichols provides examples of consumer weariness in Kansas City and offers ways to combat it.