We might not have seen this perspective on our town before, but we've certainly seen the idea -- most recently in Denver's Rocky Mountain News, which spent a pre-millennium year running color photos by John Fielder next to 19th century black-and-whites by William Henry Jackson under the heading "Colorado Then and Now."
"It's not an original idea at all, but one we thought was kind of cool," says Doug Weaver, The Star's director for strategic business development. There are "scads" of then-and-now books, adds Monroe Dodd, the editor in charge of The Star's project. "The first one I saw was a Cincinnati Then and Now book at our discount book sale upstairs. That was in the mid-'90s. One day my wife, Jean, was stranded in the Pittsburgh airport, and there was a Pittsburgh Then and Now done by a college professor there. Washington, D.C., has two different ones, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, New Orleans -- I ordered a whole stack from Amazon.com to see how different people did them."
The project is bound to include plenty of pastoral, Hallmarky images, but what about views we're not so proud of these days -- say, the city's monument to racism, that once-vibrant but now-ravaged intersection at 31st and Troost? Or waves of Johnson County houses fronted only by three-car garages?
"We did some aerials of I-35 at 87th Street -- in the '60s it was a patchwork of farms, the kind you'd see over western Kansas," Dodd says. But, he points out, good things have come with all of the city's progress. "You see a lot less smoke. You don't see horse manure on the streets anymore."
Except, that is, every year during the American Royal.