In January 17, 1920, under the terms of the Eighteenth Amendment, Prohibition began in America. As the rest of the U.S. started drying out, Kansas City, Missouri filled its glass and earned the nickname “Paris of the Plains.” Thanks to political boss Tom Pendergast, who laid down the law in KC, the booze continued to flow. When asked how he was able to justify ignoring Prohibition, Pendergast simply explained, “the people are thirsty.” Journalist Edward Morrow quipped at the time, “if you want to see some sin, forget about Paris and go to Kansas City.”
If you’re parched for more historical information about this Midwestern metropolis, here are seven things you can now discover on Google Arts & Culture—no speakeasy password required for entry. Today, Kansas City is a place where BBQ smoke rings meet finer things, where contemporary creatives cross cultural icons and where architectural treasures are housed in vibrant neighborhoods.
1. Time travel back to the Roaring Twenties: Want to know how the city earned its reputation as a wide-open town? Read about the unique style of jazz that flourished and the rise and fall of one Pendergast’s power in online stories from the Kansas City Public Library. From there, you can keep getting your history fix by checking out early footage of KC from the Kansas City Museum. Get to know the Man from Missouri—President Harry S. Truman—in 360 degree imagery, from his personal home at the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site to a replica of his Oval Office at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum.
3. See KC in 360 degrees: Tour of some of Kansas City’s most beloved neighborhoods, from West Bottoms to Westport. Continue your virtual tour with sites ranging from a former storage building (now the National Archives at Kansas City) to a panoramic view of the skyline from the top of the Liberty Memorial Tower at National WWI Museum and Memorial.
4. Marvel at the masterpieces of Missouri: Zoom into ultra high resolution images of artworks from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (including Missouri’s own George Caleb Bingham), get to know some of the renowned alumni of the Kansas City Art Institute and discover cutting edge contemporary artists from the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art.
6. Stand at the intersection of where the blues meets baseball: Get to know the 18th and Vine neighborhood with a historical overview from the Black Archives of Mid-America, experience neon signs of jazz clubs past in virtual reality at the American Jazz Museum. Take a swing at learning more about the team Jackie Robinson represented, the Kansas City Monarchs, thanks to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
7. Find inspiration from KC’s creatives: The city has served as the inspiration for a broad range of creatives, from Bob Dylan to Norman Rockwell. Get to know a few of the inventions we have Kansas Citians to thank for, the park that inspired Walt Disney World with the Jackson County Historical Society and the songs, TV shows, and movies that portray the city.