18th and Vine – Downtown East, Kansas City

18th and Vine is a neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri. It is internationally recognized as a historical point of origin of jazz music and a historic hub of African-American businesses. Along with Basin Street in New Orleans, Beale Street in Memphis, 52nd Street in New York City, and Central Avenue in Los Angeles, the 18th and Vine area fostered a new style of jazz. Kansas City jazz is a riff-based and blues-influenced sound developed in jam sessions in the district's crowded clubs. Many notable jazz musicians of the 1930s and 1940s lived or got started here, including Charlie Parker.[2] Due to this legacy, U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver said 18th and Vine is America's third most recognized street after Broadway and Hollywood Boulevard.[3]

18th and Vine Historic District
18th and Vine District sign and building.jpg
18th and Vine – Downtown East, Kansas City is located in Missouri
18th and Vine – Downtown East, Kansas City
18th and Vine – Downtown East, Kansas City is located in the United States
18th and Vine – Downtown East, Kansas City
LocationRoughly bounded by 18th St., Woodland Ave., 19th St. and The Paseo, Kansas City, Missouri
Coordinates39°05′20″N 94°33′40″W / 39.08889°N 94.56111°W / 39.08889; -94.56111Coordinates: 39°05′20″N 94°33′40″W / 39.08889°N 94.56111°W / 39.08889; -94.56111
Area9 acres (3.6 ha)
MPS18th and Vine Area of Kansas City MPS
NRHP reference No.84004142[1]
Added to NRHPSeptember 9, 1991
18th Street businesses
18th Street and Vine Street signs

In 1991, the national historic district encompassing 35 contributing buildings was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2007 the city workhouse castle was added to the Kansas City historical register, having been a correctional facility from 1897 to 1924.


Located just east of Downtown Kansas City, the neighborhood is the metropolitan area's historic center of African American culture. In 1991, the national historic district encompassing 35 contributing buildings was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[1][4]

In the 1990s, parts of the film Kansas City were filmed there, and façades left from the movie remained on most of the dilapidated buildings until the end of the decade. Today, the 18th and Vine district includes the Mutual Musicians Foundation, the Gem Theater, the long-time offices of African-American newspaper The Call, the Blue Room jazz club, the American Jazz Museum, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Smaxx Restaurant, a restaurant inside the Juke House and Blues Club, and several apartments and condos. The Historic Lincoln Building serves as a hub of professional and business activity in the Black community, restored in the early 1980s by the Black Economic Union of Kansas City.

Six blocks to the north, the former intersection of 12th Street and Vine is the subject of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's song "Kansas City" in 1952, adapted by Little Willie Littlefield as "Kansas City Lovin'"[5] and adapted by Little Richard, Wilbert Harrison, and the Beatles. 12th Street and Vine Street no longer intersects with 12th Street, as a housing project now stands at the site. The city has since erected a street sign in a park near the housing project to mark the spot where 12th Street once crossed Vine.

The District has long suffered epidemic blight, with huge portions being juggled for decades between unproductive owners and their countless colossal visions and broken promises of rehabilitation. It has been the focus of more than $30 million of civic investment since the late 1980s, but the district's redevelopment has struggled.[6][7][8] In 2001, the Kansas City area manager of Bank of America proposed a $46 million redevelopment of 96 acres of blight across the District but canceled in 2005 ahead of the global crash of 2008, selling much of it to KC native millionaire Ephren W. Taylor II who likened his invisible investments to the comic book antihero The Phantom. Actually a con artist, Taylor promised in 2006 to develop his large Jazz District property into 42 homes plus a community center of museum in the castle, but was instead convicted of a Ponzi scheme defrauding Black churchgoers of millions of dollars and federally imprisoned.[9] The city workhouse castle entered the Kansas City Register of Historic Places on November 29, 2007.[4] From 2016[3] to 2020,[9] the city government, community, and corporate investors have conducted many proposals for rehabilitation of the historic blight, including a massive $150 million project[10] pending a federal investigation into corruption.[11]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ Philip Thomason (December 1989). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: 18th and Vine Historic District" (PDF). Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2017-03-01. (includes 27 photographs) and site map
  3. ^ a b Horsley, Lynn (January 6, 2016). "KC Council will consider pitch for $18 million to bolster 18th and Vine district". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved July 26, 2020. (registration required)
  4. ^ a b "KCMO Historic Register". City of Kansas City, MO. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  5. ^ Marsh, Dave (1999). The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. Da Capo Press. pp. 125–27. ISBN 978-0-306-80901-9.
  6. ^ Barton, Eric (2006-09-14). "Done Deal". The Pitch. Archived from the original on 21 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-03.
  7. ^ KCTV5 story on the neighborhood
  8. ^ "KSHB TV article on new apartments". Archived from the original on 2013-01-27. Retrieved 2012-09-02.
  9. ^ a b "Plan to revive area near jazz disrict faces hurdle". The Kansas City Star. November 10, 2019. p. 1A,21A,22A. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  10. ^ Alcock, Andy (September 26, 2019). "Black Economic Union of Greater KC under federal investigation". KSHB. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  11. ^ Alcock, Andy (December 23, 2019). "Developer under federal investigation conditionally approved for $1.2 million in KC tax money". KSHB. Retrieved April 18, 2020.

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