Early Bird: Charlie Parker at 18th and Vine

During the days of public segregation, Kansas City’s 18th and Vine area developed into a self-contained community. The intersection of 18th and Vine served as the hub of a bustling business and entertainment district—the heart and soul of an African American community, bounded by Independence Avenue on the north, Troost Avenue on the west, 27th Street on the south, and Benton Boulevard on the east.

Charlie Parker in Kansas City, Kansas

Charlie Parker grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, a community divided against itself by the Missouri/Kansas state line. The two Kansas Cities were worlds apart. While Kansas City, Missouri, famously cultivated graft and corruption in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Kansas City, Kansas, led the temperance movement. Charlie Parker lived in both worlds; he was born in Kansas City, Kansas, and came of age as a man and musician in Kansas City, Missouri.

Midtown Kansas City

After separating from Addie in early 1927, Charles Sr. quit his job on the railroad and went to work as a janitor in an apartment building at 114–116 36th Street in midtown Kansas City, Missouri. That summer, Addie and Charles Sr. reconciled and moved to a spacious apartment in a brick fourplex at 3527 Wyandotte, located in the heart of a predominately white middle-class neighborhood.

Gigging Around Town

After parting ways with Charles Sr., Addie and Charlie moved to Kansas City, Missouri. Addie rented a house at 1516 Olive St., a few blocks north of the vibrant 18th and Vine District, which was the heart and soul of the African American community.