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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.
As Bennie Moten, George E. Lee, and other African American bandleaders based at 18th and Vine pioneered a new style of jazz, a number of white bands in downtown Kansas City were performing a style of hot jazz modeled after nationally popular white bands. Ironically, while Kansas City would gain renown for its great African American bands that barnstormed across country, it was a white dance band, the Coon-Sanders Nighthawk Orchestra, which first established Kansas City’s national reputation as a jazz center.