Planning for Permanence: the Speeches of J.C. Nichols
Jesse Clyde Nichols (1880-1950) can arguably be viewed as the single most significant influence on the development of metropolitan Kansas City in the twentieth century. His concepts of community and his business and civic activities had direct impact on the creation and growth of key institutions, such as the Nelson Gallery of Art, the Kansas City Art Institute, the Kansas City School District, the University of Kansas City (now the University of Missouri-Kansas City), and the Liberty Memorial, among others. Moreover, the form of Kansas City was and is defined by the Nichols developments, the method of their management, and the philosophy behind their design.
The presentation of Planning for Permanence: the Speeches of J.C. Nichols is intended to provide insight into the thoughtful and deliberate process used to create a sustainable community in Kansas City. Moreover, Nichols' work, ideas, and philosophy of city planning and development had far-reaching impact nationally – so much so that the Urban Land Institute has established the J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionary Urban Development to recognize a person or individual representing an institution whose career demonstrates a commitment to the highest standards of responsible development.
These speeches come from the J.C. Nichols Company Records (KC0106), which contain personal and business files dating approximately from the 1890s to 1980s. They were compiled into binders with an index to the title of each speech. Hand-inscribed reading notes also have survived for some of the talks, as well as a few audio recordings. Many of the manuscripts lack the date or place of the presentation – it may be assumed that the talk was given in several venues – but where this information can be determined, it is provided in brackets. Some of the speeches are, in fact, outlines of ideas, often containing references without elaboration to remind Mr. Nichols of a story to relate or comment. Also some of the speeches have multiple versions in the file reflecting either various drafts or modifications made for different presentations. The most "clean" or complete version has been used here. Only a minimum of editing (correction of typos and spelling) has been done in order to preserve the integrity of the speeches.
Also included is the enlightening Jesse Clyde Nichols (1880-1950) Memoir, a firsthand recollection of his life and activities prepared shortly before his death in 1950. The paper contains an Epilogue written by Ethel V. Treshadding, personal secretary to Mr. Nichols since October 1933.
We hope these documents prove insightful and useful for understanding J.C. Nichols the man, the J.C. Nichols Company, and the city that benefited from his role in its development. We hope too that these speeches engender a discussion of city planning and community development nationally.
These documents are provided in the Portable Document Format (PDF), which is both device and resolution independent. Documents in the PDF format can be viewed, navigated, and printed using the freely available Acrobat Reader software from Adobe Systems Inc.
© WHMC-KC, University of Missouri
Last revised: Wednesday, August 12, 2009