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Harvey, Ford F., Street Railway & Eating Houses, 3617 Gillham Road

Men of Affairs in Kansas City

Ford F. Harvey

Fort F. Harvey, president of the great Fred Harvey System and one of the receivers for the Metropolitan Street Railway Company of Kansas City, was born in Leavenworth, Kansas, March 7, 1966, the son of Frederick H. and Barbara S. Harvey. His father was a native of London, England, and his mother came form Austria.

With a common school training as his educational asset, Mr. Harvey became associated with his father in the extensive system of eating houses, and hotels which the senior Harvey established along the railroads throughout the country. Upon the death of his father, Mr. Harvey became the executive head of the system which is the largest of its kind in the United States.

When the Metropolitan Street Railway went into the hands of receivers, Mr. Harvey was appointed by Judge Hook of the Federal Court, joint receiver with R. J. Dunham, and these two men are now handling the affairs of the great street car system for the court.

In 1888 Mr. Harvey married Josephine Blair, daughter of General Charles W. Blair of Kansas. They had a son and a daughter.

Having been associated with the Fred Harvey System since his youth, its history is very largely the life history of Ford F. Harvey. The chain of dining rooms, lunch rooms and hotels, extending from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, reaching from end to end of the Santa Fe Railway System, and covering half a continent, had its beginning in 1876 with the establishment of an eating house at Topeka, Kansas. The founder was Fred Harvey, who came from England to America when he was about fourteen years old, and secured employment with a railroad.

After a series of changes and promotions, and while with the Santa Fe Railway, where his duties required him to travel through the West where inferior hotel facilities were characteristic, Mr. Harvey was impressed with the opportunity for improvement, and it occurred to him it would be a good advertisement for the railroad to have neat and inviting eating houses, of which Mr. Harvey was in charge, proved so thoroughly popular that similar places were opened all along the line wherever trains arrived at the house for meals.

This was the first time well cooked food had been served to railway travelers in the West, and naturally it was a great attraction. It is a remarkable organization now, with several thousand persons on the payroll. There are seventy establishments, besides fifty and more dining cars, each contributing to the pleasure and satisfaction of its guests with substantial delicacies.

Where hotels have been constructed, a style of architecture typical to the Southwest has been employed, generally following the lines of the old Franciscan missions of California, and bearing the names of some characters prominent in early Southwestern history. The Cardenas, at Trinidad; the Castaneda, at Las Vegas; fray Marcos, at Williams’ the Escalante, at Ash Fork; El Garces, at Needles; the Alvarado, at Albuquerque, and el Tovar, at Grand Canyon, are named after members of the bank led by Coronado, and Franciscan missionaries, who came into the Southwest in 1540 and a little later. E Ortiz, at Lamy, is constructed on the lines of an old Spanish hacienda and is very unique, while the style of the Bisconte, at Hutchinson, will be remembered as Elizabethan, or Old English, in character.

Fred Harvey’s greatest service to the public has been in raising the standard of living, and though he has passed away, his influence still dominates in the conduct of the service, and it is felt as well in the homes of thousands of his patrons who learned in his dining rooms what was good to eat.