Economic Boom, Depression, and Recovery

Fueled by the continued growth of industries, especially the railroads, stockyards, and garment district, Kansas City’s population and economy exploded from 163,000 in 1900 to over 399,000 by 1930. The effects of the Great Depression, however, arrested further growth until the U.S. entry into World War II sparked a new industrial expansion on the home front. Learn more about Kansas Citians’ experience of the economic conditions of the Roaring Twenties and Great Depression. 

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In the second decade of the 20th century, Kansas City was emerging as a key center of economic power west of the Mississippi. Agriculture constituted a central pillar of Kansas City’s success: dozens of railroads shipped grains and livestock through the city’s new hub at Union Station, and its manufacturing district developed large meatpacking, flour, and other food processing industries. Wholesale and retail commerce joined agriculture and industry as the foundations of Kansas City’s economic power.

Sketch of Federal Reserve districts
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.