Kansas City and the Railroads: Community Policy in the Growth of a Regional Metropolis

Kansas City and the Railroads: Community Policy in the Growth of a Regional Metropolis

Kansas City and the Railroads: Community Policy in the Growth of a Regional Metropolis

Kansas City and the Railroads: Community Policy in the Growth of a Regional Metropolis

Excerpt

In these days of megalopolis, metropolitan under-representation, urban sprawl, and flights to and from suburbia, Americans, as in other eras, seem much concerned with their cities. Yet in spite of occasional directives from within the craft to study the city, professional American historians have continued to accept the restrictions of a tradition-bound national synthesis. To the extent that there is an avant-garde in this most conservative of disciplines, it has turned to social psychology, literary criticism, quantification of socio-economic data, or even theology to find new approaches to the American past. Seldom though has anyone defended or speculated seriously about the intensely particularistic study, which is developed in terms of the realities that appear from within the internal history of the unit studied and which does not represent the mere imposition of well established national patterns upon a given institution or locality. Any professional historian who examines the history of a single city risks identification with a most pernicious species, the local historian, and faces the prospect of intellectual exile to the laity of antiquarians, permitted only to study inconsequential subjects in an inconsequential manner.

I have assumed the risk, for this book represents a variety of urban-local history. It is about the rise of a leading western transportation center, Kansas City, from its beginnings in the 1850's as a trading post on the edge of settlement through its maturation as regional metropolis in the 1880's. In no way, however, does this work provide a full-scale, socio-economic history of the city; the task of preparing Kansas City's biography, in a projected two vol-

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