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Power and Society in Greater NY

Power and Society in Greater NY

DAVID C. HAMMACK
Copyright Date: 1982
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 448
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610442657
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  • Book Info
    Power and Society in Greater NY
    Book Description:

    Who has ruled New York? Has power become more concentrated-or more widely and democratically dispersed-in American cities over the past one hundred years? How did New York come to have its modern physical and institutional shape? Focusing on the period when New York City was transformed from a nineteenth-century mercantile center to a modern metropolis, David C. Hammack offers an entirely new view of the history of power and public policy in the nation's largest urban community.

    Opening with a fresh and original interpretation of the metropolitan region's economic and social history between 1890 and 1910, Hammack goes on to show how various population groups used their economic, social, cultural, and political resources to shape the decisions that created the modern city. As New York grew in size and complexity, its economic and social interests were forced to compete and form alliances. No single group-not even the wealthy-was able to exercise continuing control of urban policy. Building on his account of this interplay among numerous elites, Hammack concludes with a new interpretation of the history of power in New York and other American cities between 1890 and 1950.

    This book makes a major contribution to the study of community power, of urban and regional history, and of public policy. And by taking the meaning and distribution of power as his theme, Hammack is able to reintegrate economic, social, and political history in a rich and comprehensive work.

    "Lucid, instructive, and discerning....The most commanding analysis of its subject that I know." -John M. Blum, professor of history, Yale University

    "A powerful and persuasive treatment of a marvelous subject." -Nelson W. Polsby, professor of political science, University of California, Berkeley

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-265-7
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. LIST OF MAPS
    (pp. xiii-xiii)
  5. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  6. PREFACE
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  7. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  8. PART I On the Historical Study of Power

    • CHAPTER 1 CONTEMPORARY PERCEPTIONS, HISTORICAL PROBLEMS
      (pp. 3-28)

      FROM the Declaration of Independence and theFederalist Papersthrough the Voting Rights Acts of 1965 and 1970, the distribution of power has been a dominant theme in American history. Equality of power, universal participation in public affairs, a government responsive to all citizens—these are fundamental American ideals. In the nineteenth century, Europeans saw political equality as more characteristic of the United States than equality of opportunity, status, or wealth. In the years since Emancipation, political equality, at least in the minimal sense of “one man one vote,” has often been seen as an essential first step in any...

  9. PART II Greater New York, 1880–1910

    • CHAPTER 2 ECONOMIC CHANGE AND CONTINUITY
      (pp. 31-58)

      NEW YORK harbor provided the symbolic image of the metropolis and its economy until some years after the turn of the century. Approaching Manhattan on steamships from Europe or on ferries from the great railroad terminals in Jersey City and Hoboken, visitors in the 1880s and 1890s were impressed by the harbor’s great sheets of protected water, crowded with the traffic of tramp steamers, sailing vessels, ferries, barges, and lighters bearing railroad cars and goods in transit. The harbor was fringed with ramshackle docks that stretched for miles in the deep water around the lower third of Manhattan and were...

    • CHAPTER 3 SOCIAL TRANSFORMATIONS
      (pp. 59-106)

      THE ECONOMIC CHANGES that simultaneously brought an extraordinary concentration of wealth to late nineteenth-century New York and divided its owners into distinct elites were closely associated with social and cultural changes that divided the very rich still further. Those same economic and social changes also attracted a rapidly growing and increasingly heterogeneous middle- and lower-income population to the metropolis. The ethnic and religious diversity of this population exacerbated the cultural divisions among the wealthy, further reducing the value of cultural resources the wealthy had long enjoyed. Gradually but unmistakably the region’s economic, social, cultural, and political resources were becoming more...

  10. PART III Mayoral Politics

    • CHAPTER 4 TRADITION AND REALITY
      (pp. 109-129)

      IF POWER is the ability to influence the outcomes of decisions, the possessors of high political office are no more certain of power than are the possessors of great fortunes. The office holder, like the rich person, enjoys only a resource that may help to gain desired ends. But although an examination of electoral politics cannot by itself yield sufficient evidence to permit conclusions about the distribution of power in a community, no study of the distribution of power in an American city can ignore mayoral politics. The roles of American mayors have varied from time to time and from...

    • CHAPTER 5 ECONOMIC ELITES AND MAYORAL POLITICS
      (pp. 130-157)

      IN MOST American cities, members of the local economic elites held nearly all municipal offices until the 1840s, and although professional politicians began to move into the lower offices of the larger cities after that date, the office of mayor continued to be reserved for wealthy men until the end of the century. As the largest and most complex of all American cities, New York confirmed this pattern by following it at an accelerated pace. By one mode of reckoning, New York City’s first professional- politician mayor was Fernando Wood, who took office in 1857.¹ But in this as in...

    • CHAPTER 6 NON-ECONOMIC ELITES AND MAYORAL POLITICS
      (pp. 158-182)

      BY the last decade of the nineteenth century the ability of Greater New York’s economic elites to control mayoral nominations was severely limited by deep divisions among them. It was also limited by the increasing power of political, labor, and ethnic group leaders who could draw on significant resources of their own: rising prosperity for many of their constituents, effective organizations, and a developing core of values shared quite widely among the city’s immigrant and second-generation residents. During the 1890s the most important of these leaders—who belonged to what might be called, serviceably if not elegantly, the city’s non-economic...

  11. PART IV Major Policy Decisions

    • CHAPTER 7 URBANIZATION POLICY: THE CREATION OF GREATER NEW YORK
      (pp. 185-229)

      ON JANUARY 1, 1898, state law consolidated old New York City, which had consisted only of Manhattan and what is now the south Bronx, with Brooklyn, Staten Island, and what then became the modern boroughs of the Bronx and Queens to form Greater New York. By any criterion this was one of the most important decisions ever taken in the metropolitan region. Touching at once on economic, political, social, and cultural life, consolidation established enduring new boundaries and institutions for the region and affected the relative value of the resources possessed by most of its residents. Consolidation was not a...

    • CHAPTER 8 ECONOMIC POLICY: PLANNING THE FIRST SUBWAY
      (pp. 230-258)

      PUBLIC MONEY employed by public officials had dredged the Erie Canal, developed New York harbor, and established New York’s commercial supremacy early in the nineteenth century. But although New York City retained a strong mayor and a relatively generous set of municipal powers, most of its business leaders had grown deeply suspicious of public officials and had abandoned municipal mercantilism forlaissez-faireby the l880s. The rapid transit crisis of the late nineteenth century forced these men to reconsider their outlook. Faced with overcrowded and unhealthy tenement housing, congested streets, and unacceptable commuting times, many business leaders began to ask...

    • CHAPTER 9 CULTURAL POLICY: CENTRALIZING THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM
      (pp. 259-300)

      IN APRIL 1896 Governor Levi P. Morton signed into law a measure centralizing the New York City public school system. Abrogating arrangements dating to the 1850s, the school centralization law ended all neighborhood participation in school management. Henceforth, a single Board of Education, assisted by a powerful, professionally-trained Board of Superintendents, would take over “the entire administration of public education.” In the eyes of contemporaries this was by all odds the most important decision affecting education, and one of the most important affecting cultural policy, taken for the metropolitan region during the 1890s. The New York centralization law had national...

  12. PART V The Distribution of Power in Greater New York

    • CHAPTER 10 COMPETING ELITES AND THE DISPERSAL OF POWER
      (pp. 303-326)

      HENRY GEORGE posed the issues addressed in this book as clearly as any of his contemporaries:

      In all the great American cities there is today as clearly defined a ruling class as in the most aristocratic countries of the world. … Who are these men? The wise, the good, the learned—men who have earned the confidence of their fellow-citizens by the purity of their lives, the splendor of their talents, their probity in public trusts, their deep study of the problem of government? No; they are gamblers, saloon-keepers, pugilists, or worse, who have made a trade of controlling votes,...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 327-385)
  14. BIBLIOGRAPHIC ESSAY
    (pp. 386-402)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 403-422)