Image by Gabriella Clare Marino
By Alan Shope/KMBC News
Tuesday marks 90 years since the end of prohibition.
Kemet Coleman with Vine Street Brewery spoke with KMBC 9 about the anniversary and what prohibition meant to Kansas City.
“We kind of skipped prohibition based on the city politics at the time,” Coleman said.
In June, Coleman re-opened a 150-year-old water department building near 18th and Vine that he has transformed into a brewery. He says he wouldn’t have been able to do that without the landmark law change.
“I am thankful, you know, I’m thankful, and I’m hoping that we can kind of build healthier relationships with alcohol,” Coleman said.
Kansas City Public Library historian Jason Roe says that the area didn’t entirely ignore prohibition, so much as enforce it selectively.
He says mob boss Tom Pendergrass ran the city back then when it came to alcohol distribution.
“There were instances of violence. There was a lot of election fraud that became increasingly documented,” Roe said.
The historian says that once prohibition ended, things in Kansas City really started to change and blossom.
“Kansas City had a reputation of being a wide-open town. Kansas City gained a jazz scene, and a nightlife and clubs. They lost their edge when liquor became legal,” Roe said.
As for Vine Street Brewery, Coleman says his building and business pay homage to the Kansas City that sprung up as a result of prohibitions’ end 90 years ago.
To learn more about prohibition in Kansas City, you can visit the downtown public library.