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As permits were issued, as charters were granted, as the number of city workers expanded to 15,000 by the time Steffens wrote, the lines between public power and private profit converged. Butler (1881-1940), who served as Director of Public Safety in 1924-25.Something had to hold this fragmented system together, and taking a cut—“honest graft’ as Tammany Hall’s George Washington Plunkitt famously labeled the practice—seemed to be part of the necessary price. One monument to the system not matched in any other city Steffens examined was Philadelphia City Hall.
The central features of the ward system Steffens described in 1903 remain in place today in the city, and in the suburbs service contracts can be repaid quite legally in the form of political contributions to the party controlling the bidding.
Written by African American leader Robert Purvis (1810-98), the ⇒ Read More Philadelphia’s Fifth Ward, south of Chestnut Street near the Delaware River, became infamous in the late nineteenth century for election-day riots among the Irish, blacks, and the police, with ward boss William “Bull” Mc Mullen (1824-1901) at the center of the violence.
By the early twentieth century, the area had become known as the “Bloody Fifth,” ⇒ Read More Bootleg liquor, produced illegally during Prohibition (1920-33), flowed into the Philadelphia region from a variety of sources, including overseas shipments, small home stills, large stills in urban factories and country barns, beer breweries, and manufacturers of industrial alcohol.
The system Steffens described had its roots in the nineteenth century.
Some blamed election day improprieties and the exchange of political favors on the bad effect of masses of newcomers to the city, many of them immigrants with little experience with democratic practice.“All our municipal governments are more or less bad,” Steffens declared.