Friday, March 2, 2012

Kansas City Gangster Tour & Union Station - 2/25/2012

Sigrid and I have been working on our bucket list this winter since the weather has been so nice.  Last Saturday, we took the Kansas City Gangster Tour.  I have lived in KC all my life, so I didn't expect to get too much out of the tour, but I was wrong as is so often the case.

The tour started at Union Station.  We got there early so we used the extra time to take a few photos of the landmark building.

Union Station has struggled over the years to find its way in today's world.  There have been various movie theaters and restaurants that have come and gone.  The planetarium was a bust from the first day although I think they are still trying to revive it with better equipment.  Science City was a great idea that has been less than successful due in large part to not being able to keep all the interactive gizmo's working.....some of which were pretty boring.  Of course, this is the opinion of an adult in an environment designed for kids.  After all is said, it is still a magnificent building.

Many a person has waited under the "big clock" at Union Station on their way to catch a train.

This huge area used to be filled with wooden benches for those waiting to get on a train or waiting to pick someone up when their train arrived.  The doors on each side were the "gates" to the trains.  The space is now used for special events of all kinds.

This was one of the places to purchase tickets.  It is now a cafe.

Another great old clock at the entrance to the station.  We sat outside waiting for our tour bus.

Hallmark Cards' Crown Center development area.

The video screen on the bus welcomed us.  Very professionally done and entertaining video clips played throughout the tour.

Our tour guide, "Johnny Holiday", was perfect for the tour.  The tour was about KC gangsters which included both Irish and Italian mobsters.  If I had to guess, I would say that Johnny has mafia somewhere in his family's ancestry.  He had loads of really interesting facts and a great sense of humor.

The bus rarely stopped on the tour and when it did, we could not get off so all the photos are what I lovingly call "bus photos".  This means that lots of photos had to be thrown away just to get the few we have posted and even the best of them have a little window glare.  The windows were also heavily tinted which adds to the photo challenge.  Since there was plenty of space on the bus, Sigrid sat on one side and I sat on the other so we would miss a shot.

This used to be the headquarters for Western Auto, a national car parts, tires, and other household items store.  My second job, after throwing newspapers for the Northeast News, was as a salesman at the Independence Avenue store.  The chain was sold Sears and then Sears sold it to Advanced Auto Parts stores.  The building now has loft apartments.  The old sign was kept because of its historical significance to KC.

A family dressed in the native cultural clothing.  I don't know what they were doing other than having a good time.

The controversial icons on top of the support towers of Bartle Hall.

The Folly Theater.....lots of good times in the past and still in use after a major restoration years ago.

The Police Headwaters building.

The relatively new Sprint Center which seats 18,000 for sporting events and concerts.

The famous Drum Room.

The City Market.  Sigrid loves to come here in good weather.

We didn't get too many photos of former gangster buildings as it turned out although we were driven by many and given the history of the building by the tour guide.  At this apartment building in the "Armor District" of KC, our guide graphically re-enacts a gangland killing that took place on the sidewalk in front of the building.

The Ward Parkway home of Tom Pendergast, the most infamous of all KC gangsters.  Tom was an Irish immigrant who pretty much ran KC for many years.  He was a mentor of sorts for Harry Truman although Harry swears that he never did anything illegal for Boss Tom.

Our guide points out bullet hole still visible in the walls of Union Station at the conclusion of the tour.  "Pretty Boy" Floyd and Frank "Jelly" Nash were at the center of the "Union Station Massacre" of 1933.  Four police officers and one gangster were killed in the hail of shotgun and Tommy gun fire that morning.

Sigrid posing with Johnny.

The tour is well worth the $25 each we paid.  If you live in KC or are visiting, we would recommend the tour which is given each Saturday at 1:00pm from Union Station.  Here is a little more info in the tour.

Sigrid just signed up for a hot air balloon ride this spring when the weather is good.  We also plan to take a trip to the Amana Colonies in Iowa some time soon.  Keep watching the blog.

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