The restaurant's namesake, a scrappy and ambitious young graduate of De LaSalle Academy and a college football player at St. Mary's College in California, had married his girlfriend, Josephine Cropisi, a 23-year-old grocer's daughter from Kansas City's Northeast, the year before he purchased the tiny restaurant; the first of their four sons, Leonard, was born several months after he started running the business.
The New York City Garment District, that legendary swath of Seventh Avenue featured in plays (I Can Get It for You Wholesale) and movies (The Garment Jungle, Klute) was once the center of clothing design and manufacturing in America. But Kansas City had its own bustling garment district for decades, located in the commercial buildings between SIxth and 11th streets and Wyandotte and Washington.
Although the companies are long forgotten - Mayfair Playwear, Gay Gibson Junior Dresses, Mary-Lane Coats and Suits - the manufacturers made a huge impact on the local economy: As late as the 1960s, local garment manufacturers employed 5,000 workers. In the decade before that, 150 local garment companies employed 8,000 workers. By 1982, the industry - and all those jobs - had simply evaporated.
Ann Brownfield, who worked in Kansas City's garment industry as a fashion designer, has a unique perspective on Kansas City's rise and fall as a clothing manufacturing center. She'll share her story and the history of the local garment trade on Sunday, September 15, at 2 p.m. at the Kansas City Central Library, 14 West 10th Street.
The Orion Building at 118 West 17th Street, in the Crossroads, is now a pile of rubble. The building was part of the city's historic Film Row District, a group of buildings in which movie studios used to store films and distribute them to area theaters.
Shirley Helzberg owns the Orion Building and razed it in order to build a three-story parking garage. Helzberg has said the parking spaces are necessary for the neighborhood, including Webster House, the restaurant she owns directly across the street from the Orion. See a few more photos of the destruction after the jump.
Keep it ganster homie
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