Exhibits at KCI offer glances at Kansas City history

Aug. 7, 2007

Aug. 5--Travelers at Kansas City International Airport can now receive a history lesson about the city's colorful past.

A new display of more than 30 interpretive panels on the walls inside KCI's three terminals focuses on the jazz age between 1920 and 1940 when Tom Pendergast's political machine ruled Kansas City; gambling, liquor and prostitution thrived; and jazz clubs were practically on every block.

The exhibit, called "Paris of the Plains," has been on display since mid-June, the same time that airport officials and city officials traveled to the Paris Air Show to promote the airport's economic development potential.

"Paris of the Plains" was coined by a journalist at the Omaha World-Herald who wrote of 1920s Kansas City: "If you want to see some sin, forget about Paris and go to Kansas City."

The exhibit inside Terminal A, near the AirTran ticket counter, focuses on Pendergast and some of Kansas City's most famous buildings.

The Terminal B exhibit, between the Southwest and Delta gates, tells about the city's jazz heritage and the venues where artists performed.

In Terminal C, near the Skybus and Frontier baggage claims, travelers can learn about the role Kansas City played in the birth of aviation, radio and auto dealerships.

The exhibit, which will remain indefinitely at the airport, originally was conceived in 2000 by the Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections and Marr Sound Archives at the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Miller Nichols Library.

To reach Mike Rice, call 816-234-5903 or send e-mail to mrice@kcstar.com

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