#73 – Kansas City Gangster Tour
30 W Pershing Rd, Kansas City, MO 64108
Good for: Learning the colorful past of Kansas City.
Pro Tip: Bring cash to tip the tour guides and arrive early to explore Union Station.
The Kansas City Gangster Tour explores the history of gang activity in the early 1900s up until the 1980s. The 90-minute bus tour is full of interesting facts, fun sights and corny jokes.
About the Kansas City Gangster Tour
For $30, you can enjoy a 90-minute bus tour around Kansas City that explores the history of Kansas City’s mob scene. The tour begins at Union Station and covers all the main areas in Kansas City, including the River Market, Downtown Kansas City, the Country Club Plaza and more. The tours are held by present-day Kansas City “gangsters” each Saturday at 10am and 1pm.
The guides did a wonderful job sharing the history of Kansas City in a fun way. They’re dressed in suits and fedoras and speak in stereotypical gangster accents. The cracked some pretty cheesy jokes, but a majority of the audience seemed to enjoy that.
History Covered on the Kansas City Gangster Tour
The tour focuses mostly on political boss, Tom Pendergast. Pendergast ruled Kansas City’s political sphere in the 1920s, using his large network to help elect politicians – sometimes earning 95% of the votes. He even launched the political career of former President, Harry S. Truman.
Pendergast’s main business was concrete, which he used to finance is other projects. Through his influence and money, he was contracted to pour concrete for most of Kansas City’s federal buildings, including City Hall, the Jackson County Court House and the Kansas City Power and Light building.
Pendergast had a way with local police allowed booze to flow throughout the Prohibition, and Kansas City became known as Paris of the Plans. Apparently when asked how he justified ignoring Prohibition, Pendergast said, “The people are thirsty”, which is now the motto behind Tom’s Town Distillery.
Though Pendergast was a gangster and law breaker, he did a lot to help Kansas Citians. He kept the Great Depression at bay in Kansas City and helped many get and keep jobs.
During the tour you’ll ride past Pendergast’s former office, home and church. The tour also stops by the scenes of major mob crimes, like the Union Station Massacre, where you can supposedly still see bullet holes in the side of the building.
It could have been more interactive, as you don’t get off the bus for the whole 90 minutes. Overall, the tour shed light on some major times and events in Kansas City’s history. xx, Libbie.