Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I love trains. And train stations. I didn't have much time to explore Kansas City's Union Station, but I'm glad I made it over to take a few shots.

Built in 1914, Union Station, like a lot of other grandiose architecture of the time, was part of the City Beautiful movement which sought to use beautification in landscape to inspire moral and civic virtue among urban populations. Other products of this movement most notably include Philadelphia's City Hall and Museum of Art, Manhattan's Municipal Building and Pittsburgh's Schenley Farms.

On Jun 17, 1933, Union Station was the site of the "Kansas City Massacre" in which three law enforcement officers, one FBI agent and one fugitive were killed during a shootout in the railroad depot. The shootout occurred as an attempt by gang leader Vernon Miller to free Frank Nash (presumably one of the most successful bank robbers in U.S. history) from federal custody. Nash was being transported by the FBI from his place of arrest in Hot Springs, Arkansas to the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth by way of an 8:30 p.m. Missouri Pacific train, set to arrive in Kansas City the following morning.

When the train arrived at Union Station, seven officers transported him to a Chevrolet at the East Entrance of the station. From there, they were approached by two men armed with machine guns. Three Kansas City police officers and one FBI agent, along with Mr. Nash were killed.

Prior to this incident, FBI agents did not have the authority to carry firearms or make arrests. Following the massacre, the FBI purchased their first Thompson submachine guns and Congress granted them statutory authority to make arrests.

Union Station/Kansas City, MO/7.31.11

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