By Bjorn Skaptason, Tom's Town Historian
KANSAS CITY, MO, 1931: While Boss Tom Pendergast made plenty of money off of vice, he also had a genius for turning a buck at his day job, or rather, any of his many completely legitimate money-making enterprises. Kansas City’s ambitious “Ten-Year Plan” provided the opportunity for Boss Tom to put his mark on the city in a way that nobody could miss.
Ready-Mixed Concrete and Centropolis Crusher were neighbors and allied businesses located at Southwest Boulevard and 25th Street. They made concrete. Tom was the principal owner in both companies along with, among other less-notables, Tom’s trusted lieutenant Mike Ross – We’ll meet “Judge” Ross in other columns!
Over the years Tom exerted Goat power in City Hall to take control of public works, and thus the city concrete inspectors. Once Tom owned the inspectors he could dictate what was considered acceptable work. The criteria were simple: If Centropolis crushed the rock and Ready-Mixed poured the concrete, it was high-quality work. If anybody else did, it was a hazard to the public and rated digging-up and doing the project over again with Ready-Mixed™brand concrete. A hefty fine might even be in order for the business that dared to use anything but Goat-approved materials, contractors, and laborers. Certain hard-heads might even earn themselves a visit from “the boys.”
When the Ten-Year Plan bond proposal was approved in 1931, Tom’s materials businesses ratcheted into high gear. The exclusive providers of Kansas City’s concrete made sure that Ready-Mixed™ concrete went into City Hall, Municipal Auditorium, the Power and Light Building, Brush Creek, the Country Club Plaza, and eventually, every street and sidewalk – and Boss Tom got paid for it all. Where is Ready-Mixed concrete? You’re standing on it!