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    1. Adjust default zoom level to 12 and re-center if necessary
    2. Downtown insert popup/link does not work


    Order Form

    Need a mechanism for ordering copies of specific building photos. We can model the form after the one on KCHistory:

    Would be good to auto-capture the URL and/or DOI of the block folder from which the order was initiated

    May want to integrate with shopping cart

    Payment processing

    Item Records

    -fix link to district in breadcrumb

    Crowdsourcing Building Addresses

    I get a permissions error when trying to create a building node from the submissions page - DL

    Change process - after submission display thank you as a message rather than a new page. The form should clear allowing for another submission

    Message text: Your submission has been submitted for approval. Thank you!



    Need to import the individual building photos, or add them manually

    Need to add district maps with missing blocks shaded

    Content needs the description fixed but address field makes it imposible to update


    How to Locate a Specific Building

    Know the Name of the Building?

    Things You Should Know

    1. Currently you cannot search for an exact street address and pull up a photograph for the vast majority of buildings. This collection only contains information at the block level.
    2. Some photographs have been lost and you may not be able to locate the one you are looking for. This collection was publicly available at City Hall and used as a research tool by the public for decades. Over that time, many photographs have gone missing, including entire sections of some neighborhoods. (see the list of known missing sections).

    Find a Building Using Maps

    1. Using the City Map page of this website, locate your district on the map, click it and follow the link to the appropriate District Map page.
    2. Zoom into the District Map to locate the block you are looking for. Make note of the number that appears on your block.
    3. Find and click the link to your Block Folder number on the side of the page.
    4. On the Block Folder page, zoom and pan around the image to locate the building you are looking for.

    Find a Building Using Search

    1. Identify the closest cross-streets to the building you are trying to locate
    2. Visit the Search By Cross-Street page
    3. Begin typing the name of one street in each box and select the appropriate suggested names
    4. This search will yield between 3 or 4 block folders. Use the description of each folder to identify the ones most likely to contain the building you are looking for.
    5. On the Block Folder page, zoom and pan around the image to locate the building you are looking for.

    Order a Copy of a Building Image

    if you would like to own a high-resolution, digital version of a specific building image, please fill out the form at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


    About the Collection


    The Kansas City of the 1920s and ‘30s was marked by the rule of the Pendergast machine over the city’s government, industry, and culture.  After Boss Tom’s arraignment on tax evasion charges, the city and the rest of Jackson County were well overdue for a deep cleaning of their tax rolls.  In addition to the concerns that machine era-cronyism had led to an unfair distribution of tax burden, the economic turmoil of the Great Depression devastated the real value of property without an attendant change in citizens’ tax bills. 

    The 1940 Jackson County tax assessment was overseen by J. L. Jacobs & Co. of Chicago, and largely staffed by several hundred Works Progress Administration workers.  Developing an organization strategy was an early stage of the project.  Kansas City, within its 1940 city limits, was divided into 17 districts, with five larger districts making up the remainder of Jackson County.  Kansas City’s 17 districts were then subdivided into nearly 4,900 blocks, and those blocks into specific parcels.

    Beginning April 22, 1940, twelve pairs of men -- one armed with a 35mm camera and the other with numbered signboards – circled each block, taking a photograph of every structure they encountered.  Whether a high rise office building or a shack, any structure was considered an improvement subject to taxation, and as part of what the Kansas City Star (February 9, 1940) called the area’s “first scientific assessment,” a photograph was a key part of the new property records.  Surveyors and other workers followed soon after, recording measurements, building materials, conditions, and other details.  And behind the scenes, realtors, architects, economists, and other professionals labored over the incoming information to establish a new system of fair property values. 

    The project was completed within its $440,000 budget by December 1940.  J. L. Jacobs & Co. submitted its final assessment to the county court, reporting the taxable value of Jackson County property at $390,000,000.00, down more than $23,000,000.00 from the previous evaluation.  Then, as today, concerns were raised about the impact of lower tax revenue on Kansas City School District funding, and the impact of lessened school funding on the city – including property values in the future.

    After serving their purpose in the Jackson County Tax Assessor’s Office, the majority of the documents detailing land values, survey information, and ownership records were been lost, forgotten, or disposed of over the years, but the bulk of the photographs, pasted onto cards by block, survived through their decades in county offices, a trip to a dumpster, a rescue and move to City Hall, and, finally and happily, a relocation to Central Library and a permanent home online and in the Missouri Valley Room.

    Other Online Tax Photo Collections

    Large scale photographic tax assessments were not undertaken everywhere, but several other communities did take advantage of Works Progress Administration funding for similar projects and a few of those collections did survive to be viewed today.  It appears that Kansas City’s photographs are the only collection fully indexed and online, but information about other city’s tax assessment photograph collections can be found at the following links.

    New York City, New York:

    Seattle and King County, Washington:

    San Francisco, California:

    For current Jackson County, Missouri, tax assessment information, you can search for properties (and view recent assessment photos) with Jackson County's Parcel Viewer.


    In 1940, over a period of eight months, over 58,000 images of Kansas City structures were photographed and assembled as the 1940 Tax Assessment Photograph Collection.

    After receiving the collection in 2011, The Kansas City Public Library digitized the folders, adding descriptions and location information to help the community locate, interact with and enjoy the photographs.

    View buildings, homes, stores, shops, banks, schools and parks which, all together, convey a sense of what life was like in Kansas City at that time. Browse the collection, purchase images and contribute your own knowledge by adding location information through this site.

Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict,1855-1865.
The Pendergast Years, Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression.
KC History, Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Kansas City Public Library.