Kansas City, MO

UnkD13B151P15In 1940 Kansas City embarked on an ambitious program of taking a photograph of every building in the city as a part of the Jackson County Tax Assessor’s office. The images consist of small, black-and-white contact prints mounted on block record cards representing each city block. The identification number of each photograph was displayed on a sign in front of each building photographed, and a WPA worker is typically seen holding the sign or standing nearby in the frame.

The 44,000 photographs that resulted from that assessment are now in the possession of the Kansas City Public Library and housed in Missouri Valley Special Collections. The photographs have been digitized and are available on-line (see links page).

From this amazing collection have been plucked 640 images relating to the early petroleum and automotive history of Kansas City. These images span buildings which are clearly early 1920 structures up to the “state of the art” modern service station of 1940. Where available, station owners and addresses are included with each photograph in the galleries. If desired, high resolution scans of individual photographs are available from the Kansas City Public Library. The original pictures are only 1″ x 1.5″, so beautiful glossy images should not be expected.


Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are courtesy of Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri. Use of these images require permission from the library and a photo credit for images used.

This map currently shows ~150 stations of the 913 that existed in 1940

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