Kansas City, Missouri - History - Post–World War II Development

Post–World War II Development

Kansas City's suburban development originally began with the implementation of streetcars in the early decades of the 20th century. The city's first suburbs were in the neighborhoods of Pendleton Heights and Quality Hill. After World War II, many relatively affluent residents left for suburbs like Johnson County, Kansas and eastern Jackson County, Missouri. Many also went north of the Missouri River, where Kansas City had incorporated areas between the 1940s to 1970s.

In 1950, blacks represented 12.2% of Kansas City's population. The sprawling characteristics of the city and it environs today mainly took shape after the race riots of the 1960s in Kansas City. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. was a catalyst for the 1968 Kansas City riot. At this time, slums were also beginning to form in the inner city, and those who could afford to leave, left for the suburbs and outer edges of the city. The post–World War II idea of suburbs and the "American Dream" also contributed to the sprawl of the area. As the city's population continued to grow, the inner city also continued to decline. The city's most populous ethnic group, non-Hispanic white, has declined from 89.5% in 1930 to 54.9% in 2010.

In 1940, the city had about 400,000 residents; by 2000, the same area was home to only about 180,000. From 1940 to 1960, the city more than doubled its physical size, while increasing its population by only about 75,000. By 1970, the city had a total area of approximately 316 square miles (820 km2), more than five times its size in 1940.

The Hyatt Regency walkway collapse was a major disaster that occurred on July 17, 1981 killing 114 people and injuring more than 200 others during a tea dance. At the time it was the deadliest structural collapse in U.S. history.

For more details on this topic, see Hyatt Regency walkway collapse.

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