In the late 19th century, the convergence of transportation, livestock, industry, and commerce made Kansas City a booming Midwestern metropolis. Within fifty years, the Stockyards spanned more than 200 hundred acres and employed 20,000 people, primarily Black, Southern and Eastern European, and Mexican workers. The multiple businesses that comprised the Stockyards positioned Kansas City as the second-largest livestock market in the country, only rivaled by Chicago.
This 1917 map provides a sense of the Stockyards’ scale and scope as it details the hundreds of livestock pens and scores of men invested in the industry. At the time, the yards were deemed as some of the best equipped in the world and could hold about 170,000 animals a day. The “E” shaped building near the bottom of the blueprint is the Kansas City Livestock Exchange Building, which still stands at the corner of 16th and Genessee in the West Bottoms. Today, this structure is one of the few vestiges of Kansas City’s first million-dollar industry. Although the Stockyards officially closed in 1991, their legacy in shaping the city’s development, economy, and regional identity remains.