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Heinlein Society

Heinlein History:

Kansas City, Missouri
around the time the Heinlein family lived there...

2000 D. A. Houdek

No reproduction or distribution without consent of the author. This material may not be copied and put on another website without permission.

Heinlein books with Kansas City settings:

available from

Time Enough For Love

To Sail Beyond the Sunset

Robert A. Heinlein was born in 1907 in Butler, Missouri. A few years later the family moved to Kansas City where he grew up. Kansas City around this time figures prominently in several Heinlein pieces, being the homes of two of his most notable, and arguably most auto-biographical, characters, Lazarus Long and Maureen Johnson Smith. 

Lazarus Long, born as Woodrow Wilson Smith, was born in Kansas City in the early 1900s. His stories are told in "Methuselah's Children" and "Time Enough For Love." Maureen's story is "To Sail Beyond the Sunset." "Time Enough For Love" and "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" overlap in the telling of one part of their shared story. Lazarus and the Howard families also appear in "Number of the Beast" and "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls."

KC 1910

Kansas City, 1910

KC 1910

Kansas City, 1910

KC 1910

Kansas City, 1910

Photos from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

KC Public Library 1900-6

Kansas City Public Library, photo taken between 1900 and 1906

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection

The year was 1910. In Kansas City a ten-year-old youngster took his three-year-old brother into the backyard to see Halley's Comet...The child would always long to go to the stars...By the time he was in his early teens, Robert Heinlein had read all the books in the Kansas City Public Library on the subject of astronomy...  --Virginia Heinlein in "Requiem"

 KC Downtown 1907

Kansas City downtown 1907


In Association with

Kansas City downtown - present

Buy this poster at


In the 1900s Kansas City was an exciting place... Kansas City had 150,000 people in it. There were electric streetcars, almost as many automobiles as horse-drawn vehicles, trolley wires and telephone wires and power wires everywhere. All of the main streets were paved and more of the side streets were being paved each year; the park system was already famous worldwide and still not finished. The public library had (unbelievable!) nearly half a million volumes.  --"To Sail Beyond the Sunset" by Robert A. Heinlein


 Paseo 1906

The Paseo 1906

Courtesy of the Frances Loeb Library, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University

Straight out to Thirty-ninth--then over to the Paseo? Or Prospect and over as far as Swope Park? Would she let him take her that far? Oh, for a thousand miles of open road and Maureen beside me!  --"Time Enough For Love"  by Robert A. Heinlein

 Swope Park 1909

Swope Park 1909

Swope Park 2000

Swope Park 2000

Swope Park  

Swope Park



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The Heinlein Society was founded by Virginia Heinlein on behalf of her husband, science fiction author Robert Anson Heinlein, to "pay forward" the legacy of Robert A. Heinlein to future generations of "Heinlein's Children."