From Wettest Block to Wickedest City

John Simonson
Missouri Valley Sundays
Sunday, June 6, 2021 to Monday, June 7, 2021
3:00 pm
Event Videos

It was inevitable that the bawdy, alcohol-infused culture of 19th-century Kansas City would draw the ire of social reformers and prohibitionists. The West Bottoms and its cluster of saloons near the state line figured prominently in the controversy, with the 1700 block of West Ninth Street drawing particular notoriety for its rows of drinking establishments and illicit activity. 

By the early 1900s, dry advocates had declared that “wettest block” a menace and set their sights on shutting it down. 

Local historian John Simonson, the author of Prohibition in Kansas City, Missouri and Paris of the Plains, examines the West Bottoms’ boozy rise, decline during Prohibition, and reboot in Boss Tom Pendergast’s wide-open town of the 1930s. The program is co-presented by the Historic West Bottoms in conjunction with its Heritage Days celebration. 

Watch the presentation live online at