Floods, Fires, and Buried Trains

Floods, Fires, and Buried Trains: Immigrant Stories of the Historic West Bottoms

Presented By
Pat O’Neill

The bustling, often chaotic, West Bottoms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries attracted dreamers of every stripe. Immigrants to Kansas City arrived by trains and horse-drawn conveyances seeking a better life in the fetid air perfumed by the stench of manure, burnt coal, and stale beer from nearby packing houses and saloons.

Pat O’Neill, author of From the Bottom Up: The Story of the Irish in Kansas City, chronicles the travails of early West Bottoms residents, such as “Big Jim” Pendergast, a saloon owner whose influence grew as a political boss, and Florence McGonigle, who was raised above her family’s meat market on St. James Street and survived the devasting flood of 1903.

Drawing upon archival photos and records, O’Neill spotlights many of the colorful characters who called the West Bottoms’ shanties, hotels, and saloons their homes, and their perseverance in overcoming floods, fires, and other obstacles.

The program is co-presented by the Historic West Bottoms Association in conjunction with the organization’s West Bottoms Heritage Days 2024 celebration.

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Floods, Fires, and Buried Trains

Floods, Fires, and Buried Trains: Immigrant Stories of the Historic West Bottoms

Date & Location
-
In Person