Title: 12th Street, West from McGee

Description: Postcard of 12th Street, West from McGee

Historical Article: Today the southeast corner of 12th and McGee is occupied by the Kansas City Public Library. The library grounds occupy an entire city block, McGee to Oak, 12th to 13th.

The old post card scene of about 1915 shows the Hotel Mercer at the left. Built in 1912 by J.K. Mercer, the eight-story, 112-room hostelry was leased by David Thomas Beals Sr., pioneer cattle baron, merchandiser and president of the Union National Bank. The hotel was known as the Mercer until it changed hands in 1940 and became the Andrew Jackson. Pictured on the hotel are advertising signs, Turkish Baths, Stetson Hats and Bus Tickets.

Across the street from the hotel, on the northeast corner, the Katz Drug store sign carries the once familiar slogan, Katz pays the tax (an excise tax of World War I absorbed by the drug company).

This was Katz store No. 2 in what became a chain of 57 stores in five states. Although it bore an official designation as No. 2, the store preceded by several months the establishment of a store at 8th and Grand, designated No. 1 by the company.

Earl Katz, then chairman of the board and son of Isaac Katz, on Dec. 31, 1967, recounted the history of the founding of the drug chain for a reporter for The Star. Here is an excerpt from the story:

In 1914, Kansas City's old Union Depot was in the West Bottoms, now the Central Industrial district, and Isaac Katz and his brother Michael were beginning to prosper as owners and operators of a hotel and fruit stand near the depot.

One night, Ike Katz and his wife attended a performance at a theater near 12th and McGee, and dropped in on a confectionery in the Argyle Building. Katz liked the looks of the place and arranged for its purchase almost on the spot. Union Station had moved to the then new and vast terminal on Pershing Road and Katz felt his West Bottoms location would soon be passed for any business volume.

The confectionery was not an overwhelming success, although Katz did well on the corner. It took World War I and a proclamation by Herbert Hoover, then food administrator, to light the fire which blazed as the Katz Drug Company.

Kansas City Times
March 12, 1982

Author: Ray, Mrs. Sam (Mildred)

Item Type: Postcard

Collection: Mrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection (SC58)
See finding aid: http://localhistory.kclibrary.org/u?/Local,36981

Location: SC58

Local Subject: Streets; Katz Drugstore; 12th Street; Mercer Hotel

Digital Format: JPEG

Barcode: 20000546

Repository: Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri

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