Saturday, January 1, 2011



Fifty years ago, the area consisted of  largely old and new law tenements  in an area historically known as “Hell’s Kitchen” which certain real estate interests were trying to rename Clinton, so as to throw off  its reputation as one of the worst slums in the City that for almost a century had been ruled by the Irish street gangs and later by mobsters and bootleggers during prohibition. The name Clinton has never really stuck as many of the old line residents (and now many newer residents) have preferred the name Hell’s Kitchen, which evokes the antecedents of the Irish immigrant poor and their struggle to move from poverty and prosperity and the romanticized past of Irish street gangs, bootleggers and gentlemen mobsters loosely affiliated with show girls, prize fighters and actors.

    It is, however, highly unusual and not widely recognized that during the transformation of  Hell’s Kitchen in the last century the political leadership of the Hell’s Kitchen area has basically remained the same. The Democratic party district leader (the key political position in the Democratic party structure) of the area for the past 48 years has been James R. McManus, who took over in 1963 from his father Eugene McManus who held the same position for 20 years before that. In fact the McManus Midtown Democratic Club out of which both operate was formed by Jim McManus’s great grand uncle Thomas J. (‘the”) Mc Manus, who defeated the legendary George Washington  Plunkitt, the prior district leader in 1892. It is also not widely recognized that Jim McManus and the McManus Midtown Democratic Club have significantly influenced the way Hell’s Kitchen is today, particularly in protecting the poorer residents of the area from development and in the early1970’s and in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s  from the ravages of the pimps, prostitutes and pornography purveyors that threatened both the area and the adjacent theater district. In many ways thus Hell’s Kitchen today, which mixes low income housing in the Clinton Special District and certain subsidized buildings as Manhattan Plaza and 747 Tenth Avenue in the area’s core with the recent wave of development on 42nd Street and the periphery, along with a vibrant Broadway theater district and Off Broadway theaters west of 8th Avenue, is the result of the vision of the McManus midtown democratic Club, the last Tammany Hall democratic club in Manhattan. This is particularly ironic since most authorities assume that Tammany Hall and the Irish political clubs died with the defeat of Carmine DeSapio in 1961 (or perhaps even Boss Tweed in the 1870’s.) However, on the West Side of Manhattan, it is this last remaining Tammany Hall political Club that has been an active participant, years after Desapio’s defeat, in shaping  the development of the Hell’s Kitchen area into the 21st Century, and that is in many ways responsible for the way the area is today.

    To understand how this occurred, it is useful to review the history of the Irish and Tammany Hall, as well as the unusual political and social conditions in New York, the theater district and Manhattan’s West Side and decisions related thereto in the 1970’s which in many ways were critical to creating Hell’s Kitchen today.

    I.  History of Hell’s Kitchen and the  
       Irish In New York Before 1900

    The area that is today Hell’s Kitchen was first settled in the 1850’s and 1860’s after the New York Central first ran a railroad down the West Side of Manhattan. At the time there was a vast influx of Irish and other immigrants into New York City. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 (which was significantly built with Irish laborers) created vast economic growth, and conditions were significantly depressed in Ireland, particularly after the failure of the potato crop in 1845. As a result huge numbers of Irish (perhaps as many as 1 million) came through New York harbor. Politically there was very severe anti-Catholic and anti-Irish prejudice, as these new immigrants were destitute, Catholic, and in some cases spoke only Gaelic. However, Archbishop John Hughes, the recently appointed leader of the Catholic Church in the City sought to unify them politically to fight anti-Catholic prejudice. He allied himself with a somewhat strange political group called the Tammany Society which had been the predominant force in the Democratic party and had come to power in the New York City elections of 1800, in which it defeated John Adam’s more aristocratic federalist party, led locally by Alexander Hamilton, and swung the City, State and nation to elect Thomas Jefferson. In that election its key strategist was Aaron Burr who recruited such candidates as General Horatio Gates (hero at the battle of Saratoga) and former governor George Clinton.

    The Tammany Society philosophically given its origins supported Jeffersonian democracy and the principles of Thomas Paine, although by the 1840’s many of its members had become well-to-do because of their affiliation with the City’s ruling political party, and the arrival of hordes of poor immigrants confronted it with a significant political dilemma. Most nonimmigrant residents of New York City undoubtedly supported the anti immigrant no nothing movement which sought to restrict and put down the new Irish immigrants. However, with no immigration restrictions and ever increasing numbers of new voters arriving from Ireland there were undoubtedly certain Tammany leaders who thought embracing the anti-immigrant no nothing policies had long-term risks. Thus, as a matter of principle or policy (or both), they decided that Tammany Hall would not support the no nothing policy of restricting and discriminating against immigrants, and would join with Archbishop Hughes in fighting anti-Irish discrimination. Thus, while Tammany Hall was not and never would be an Irish institution, many immigrant Irish would support it, given the alternatives, and ultimately many of its leaders would become Irish. There would also always be a close (though at times unstated) relationship between the Irish leadership of Tammany Hall and the leadership of the New York Archdiocese. 

    With the election of Mayor Fernando Wood in the 1850’s, who reportedly relied significantly on the Irish street gangs for support at the polls. Tammany Hall and the Irish gained a significant toe hold in the City government. Even though most Irish were largely denied jobs in private industry, jobs working for the City as cops, firemen, and on City street cars and construction projects became available   
to them. These tended to be low paying jobs and there was a demand for subsistence housing. The land in what today is Hell’s Kitchen was significantly owned by John Jacob Astor and his descendants who had relatively recently purchased it for development. As was the practice of the Astor family, the land was leased on long-term ground lease to developers who erected old law tenements whose purpose was to squeeze as many families as possible on to the plot. As a result, the area gained a reputation as a dilapidated slum for the immigrant poor. However, it did house a significant number of predominantly Irish and German families, many of whom moved up from even worse conditions in the five points area near Foley Square. In addition a  number of the Gangs from the five points also formed in the area. 

    Ethnic conflicts in the area were always close to the surface, and in the period from the Civil War to the beginning of the 20th century there were three seminal events in which they boiled over—the draft riots in 1863, the Orangemen’s parade riot in 1873, and the Hell’s Kitchen riot of 1900. The draft riots in 1863 were probably the most deadly and significant urban disorder in the City’s history. Under the draft law, young men were subject to being drafted into the Union army unless they could pay $300 for a substitute. The Irish immigrant poor centered in Hell’s Kitchen, who were most directly affected because they couldn’t raise the money for a substitute, began attacking first draft boards and then black institutions and blacks and then homes of wealthy whites. The insurrection was only put down when returning troops from Gettysburg joined an overtaxed police force to restore order. The Orangemen’s parade involved a situation in which Irish groups tried to prevent Protestants from holding their annual parade celebrating the Protestant victory at the battle of the Boyne in 1690 over the Irish Catholic. National guard troops   sent to protect the parade fired at the Irish demonstrators (who were much more numerous than the parade marchers) and more than 30 people were killed. The Hell’s Kitchen riot of 1900 took place after the funeral of Robert Thorpe, a young policeman who had been killed by Arthur Harris, a black man whose woman Mr. Thorpe had tried to arrest for prostitution. Irish in Hell’s Kitchen attacked all blacks they could find on the street, and several people were killed. Although fewer lost their lives in this disturbance than the earlier two, the riot was quite significant because it led the growing black community in Hell’s Kitchen to realize that they should move someplace else and would provide a partial impetus for the Black community to move to Harlem.

    Politically, after the Civil War, Mayor Fernando Wood was replaced as the head of the Democratic party by William Tweed, a pro war Democratic politician who had helped quell the draft riots. Tweed did not hold the position of Mayor, but rather was a state senator and Deputy Street Commissioner, but was more importantly the head of the Tammany Society, which effectively controlled the Democratic party’s nominations. Tweed strongly supported the Irish, but more importantly supported himself by stealing millions from the City treasury. His defalcations were quickly uncovered in 1871 when one of his underlings leaked City records to the New York Times and he died in jail. Unfortunately, even though he was really a transitional figure in the City’s politics, who only governed for two or three years, he is to this day to many considered synonymous with Tammany Hall and Tammany Hall to many today is synonymous with corruption.

    In reality, Tammany Hall’s heyday was after Tweed’s downfall as it ruled the City for most of the period from 1874 to 1932, and later in a supposed comeback under Carmine DeSapio from 1954 to 1961. It was two or three years after Tweed’s downfall that John Kelly, a much more important but less well known figure in the City’s political history. became the head of Tammany Hall.   Kelly, sometimes called “Honest” John Kelly, was a former Congressman (the first Irishman in Congress) who had been deposed by Tweed. After his defeat at the hands of the Tweed ring he had left New York to spend a number of  years in the holy land where he had studied Catholicism. After Tweed’s fall he returned to New York City, where he was one of the few Irish politicians not tainted by the Tweed scandals. He reorganized the Democratic party in the City on the model of the Catholic Church in which there would be county committeeman in each election district (the equivalent of parish priests) who reported to district leaders in each assembly district of the City (the equivalent of the College of Cardinals) who in turn reported to the overall leader (the “boss”). The key person in this structure in many ways was the district leader, since he in effect would select the county committeemen, and was responsible for reporting on the problems of people in the district (as often reported to him by the county committeemen), would request assistance from the County leader for the district, and of course would be expected to turn out the voters of the district for the party’s candidates. A good district leader would in effect be the intermediary between the district and City Hall and responsible for negotiating with the leader of Tammany Hall for the needs of the district from the City government, and for City projects in the district, particularly in years in which Tammany Hall was in control of the City government (which was 80% of the time from 1875 to 1932).  

    In effect, this structure created an efficient privatized social welfare system, which would help advance the Irish immigrant poor up the economic and social ladder. It was strongest in an area like Hell’s kitchen where the population was predominantly Irish and German immigrants who were most in need of City and other services. The district leader in Hell’s Kitchen from 1870 until 1892 was the legendary George Washington Plunkitt, who was immortalized in the pamphlet “Plunkiit of Tammany Hall,” a series of solloquies on New York politics published in 1904 as told to  a New York Post newspaperman William Riordan, and today are read in sophisticated college political sciences courses on urban politics. As Riordan observes, Plunkitt works as a district leader more than 12 hours day. Although he had business interests as a contractor and has became a wealthy man from these activities his primary role in life is to carry out the political and social operations of the democratic party, which included helping constituents who are in trouble, keeping his district organization together or organizing social events such as parties or trips for his constituents, which to the poor of Hell’s Kitchen was the social  equivalent of  Mrs. Astor’s ball for the 400 most socially prominent New Yorkers.    

    In 1892, Plunkitt was successfully challenged for the district leadership by one of his key lieutenants—Thomas J. (“the”) McManus, the great grand uncle of Jim McManus, the current  district leader. (In Plunkitt of Tammany Hall in the chapter on ingratitude in politics, Plunkitt says “Caesar had his Brutus, King Learie his Cornelia and I my McManus”). The McManus, backed by his family of seven brothers, essentially retained the district leadership until his death in 1925. He continued to function as a full-time district leader performing the same functions as Plunkitt, but the neighborhood in the period from 1890 until 1925 underwent significant changes. In 1892 when “The” Thomas McManus took over Hell’s Kitchen is a tough area of dilapidated old and new law tenements in which a number of Irish gangs—the Gophers and the Hudson Duster--were  vying for territory.1The area just to the east—between 6th and 7th Avenue was  a notorious red light district of bordellos, burlesque houses and gambling houses called the “tenderloin” after a reputed statement by Alexander McClubber Willliams,  the police captain previously assigned to less lucrative areas for graft,  after having chuck steak  he is now going to have tenderloin. The Lexow Commission in 1894 following the efforts of such Protestant reformers as Rev. William Parkhurst exposed the relationship between the houses of prostitution and pornography and the police and certain Tammany Hall leaders that protected them. As a result of revulsion at Tammany corruption and Tammany boss Croker (Kelly’s successor), a “fusion” reformer, William Strong was elected Mayor, and he appointed Theodore Roosevelt as the head of the Board that ran the police department. However, Mayor Strong’s efforts to reform the City were soon considered ineffective. Like subsequent “reform” Mayors, Strong was compelled to satisfy  two contradictory constituencies that  had elected him: [1)wealthy business interests who wanted to reduce taxes (and thus City services) and (2) social reformers who wanted to expand services for  the poor (and thus increase taxes), and soon was considered hostile to the immigrant poor. In any event by 1897, “Boss” Croker and  Tammany Hall were back in control of the City with the election of Robert van Wyck as the first mayor of Greater New York (i.e. the consolidated City of Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island), Croker was a shrewd but vain man  whose attempt to control the state politically failed when in 1898 his candidate for governor (the Mayor’s brother Augustus Van Wyck) was narrowly defeated by Theodore Roosevelt, the Republican candidate. Roosevelt was considered the underdog but when Croker refused to renominate a Democratic judge successfully was able to convince the voters that the issue in the rate was “bossism” and make the race one between Boss Croker and himself, ignoring Van Wyck.2 The same claim would be used 60 years later to defeat Tammany leader Carmine Desapio  

2. Hell’s Kitchen from 1900-1963: The  
    Rise of the McMani

     The next 30 years were generally good years for the City, Tammany Hall, Hell’s kitchen and the McManus club. The City’s economy expanded rapidly as trusts headquartered in New York expanded their hegemony over the national economy, and manufacturing in such new industries as ready to wear garments, ship and aircraft building, telephones and radio expanded. The city’s population  rapidly expanded as Italian and Jewish immigrants joined the German and Irish of a previous generation, as did Blacks coming up from the South to Harlem. In the beginning of the 20th century Irish Street gangs such as Gophers, the Hudson Duster’s and the Whayyo still had considerable influence and in the case of the Gophers became notorious for attacking policemen, stealing their uniforms and staging day light hold ups of the New York Central Trains traveling down eleventh Avenue. In 1910, the New York Central hired a minor army of private detectives to carry out a series of largely successful raids to destroy the Gophers and end the hold ups. By the time of the first World War, many of the young men of the neighborhood who in earlier times might have been part of the gangs went with the American Expeditionary force to France where they fought honorably as part of “the Fighting 69th” where the chaplain was Father Duffy who would later be assigned to Holy Cross Church.      

    Of direct economic relevance to the residents of Hell’s Kitchen was the creation and expansion of the adjacent theatre district. Once Oscar Hammerstein, the Shubert Brother’s,  the Niederlander and the Theater Guild constructed theaters on Broadway , the area on 42nd Street and northward on Broadway became the center of a much expanded entertainment district (perhaps analogous to the Tenderloin but much better). In the 1920’s  in fact, Broadway was the undisputed center of the entertainment industry in the country, as touring companies of Broadway shows would travel to cities and towns around the country to perform at the town’s main auditorium and provide the only major professional entertainment the town saw. There thus developed a significant symbiotic relationship between the Broadway theater and the residents of Hell’s Kitchen, many of whom worked as actors, stagehands and ushers in the theater and in Madison Square Garden (which had moved up to 50th Street)  However, with the   movie  the Jazz Singer in 1927 in which the singer Al Jolson’s voice is heard in the first talking movie ,  it became clear that sound movies would soon replace live performances from Broadway road shows as a more economical form of entertainment for middle America. As a result the entertainment capital of the country to a significant extent over time shifted to Hollywood.

    Another development which significantly influenced Hell’s Kitchen in the 1920’s was the prohibition of the sale of liquor. The Volstead Act which was enacted in 1918 at the behest of  Protestant temperance groups was universally detested by Catholic New Yorkers (many of the Tammany leaders ran saloons), and uniformly flouted.  As a result of the sale of liquor becoming illegal, its distribution became controlled by criminal organizations, a number of which operated from Hell’s Kitchen which was the site of warehouses and speakeasies in close proximity to the theater district. These organizations employed significant numbers of Hell’s Kitchen residents at fairly high wages.  One of the leading figures in this business was Owney Madden. Madden was an alumnus of the Gopher gang, where he had allegedly been involved in several murders in the wars with the Hudson Dusters and had spent time in Sing Sing prison. He nevertheless apparently had significant business ability and upon release from prison was able to obtain control of most of the liquor distribution on the West Side (although his rival Dutch Schultz controlled distribution in the Bronx) Operating a so-called “gentlemen” mobster he also branched out into legitimate entertainment businesses such as the Cotton Club in Harlem and reputedly owned part of the boxing champion Primo Carnera, and maintained relationships with writers, actors and actresses, and politicians.  3There was thus a significant interrelationship between the legitimate show business on Broadway  and the illicit liquor distribution and the mobsters who ran it. and  various writers such as Damon Runyon, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Walter Winchell, and William Barclay Masterson, a New York Herald sportswriter who in an earlier career was Bat Masterson, the sheriff of Dodge City. However, the illicit nature of these activities would intertwine the underworld with the fabric of Hell’s Kitchen, which would last after prohibition. In 1930, Owney Madden, faced with a challenge from a subordinate and tighter scrutiny from law enforcement left New York for residence in Hot Springs, Arkansas, but not before he allegedly made an arrangement with Charles “Lucky “ Luciano to take over certain of his criminal enterprises. 

    Politically, the period from 1918 to 1930 was one in which Tammany Hall was at the height of its power. In 1903 Charles Francis Murphy replaced Richard Croker as the leader of Tammany Hall. After a rocky start, Murphy, who is now considered the shrewdest of the Tammany leaders, was responsible for the election of such candidates, as  Al Smith as governor, Robert Wagner as Senator  and  Jimmy Walker as Mayor. As the Tammany Hall district leader in Hell’s Kitchen Thomas J.McManus undoubtedly benefited politically from this success. as  the Irish of Hell’s Kitchen benefitted significantly from the robust economy, significant wage increases as a result of unionization and the illicit liquor trade and their position as the predominant political group in the City’s politics. In fact, the silk shirt became the symbol of material success and many of the old Irish families from the neighborhood would began to move to “better” areas such as the Bronx, Queens or eve New Jersey or Long Island suburbs, in the same way that Jewish families would move from the Lower East Side. In 1925, when Thomas (the) McManus died after 32 years as the district leader. his funeral procession through the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, which was worthy of a deceased dignitary, was led by governor Al Smith and had more than 50 carriages.   
    With the advent of the depression, the easy years of the roaring 20’s ended, as did prohibition and Tammany Hall’s control of the City’s politics. The election of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia as an anti-Tammany reformer significantly cut off the Tammany organization from patronage jobs and power for 12 long years during which it went through a kind of interregnum of succeeding leaders.  The end of prohibition and the legalization of the sale of liquor eliminated the liquor trade so that some of the criminal organizations ultimately would seek other illicit activities such as loan sharking, labor racketeering, drugs and later pornography. One of the few growth areas for Hell’s Kitchen employment became the West side docks, which were controlled in the 1940’s by corrupt union leaders o the so-called “pistol local” With the death of Charles McManus political control of district leadership in Hell’s Kitchen passed to Michael Kennedy, a former Congressman. There were in this period recurrent rumors of mob influence in Tammany Hall. In fact in this period Michael Kennedy in 1942 became the leader of Tammany Hall, but then was deposed when Thomas Aurelio one of his prominent candidates for state supreme court judge was recorded as thanking the mobster Frank Costello for his nomination and promising him whatever he needed.   

    In 1943, Eugene McManus was successfully able to take back the district leadership for the McManus family. Hell’s Kitchen remained a stronghold for Tammany Hall, which returned to power with the election in 1945 of Mayor William O’Dwyer. However, the departure of many of the old line Irish for the Bronx or the suburbs continued as Spanish and other ethnic groups moved in. This created some tensions between Spanish and Irish gangs as depicted in West Side Story, particularly with the cape man murders in a Hell’s Kitchen park in 1962. Mc Manus became closely allied with Carmine DeSapio, who was attempting to rebuild and reform Tammany Hall, and remove the criminal elements from its operation, and make it more democratic. In the 1950’s De Sapio was successful in electing in 1953 Robert Wagner as Mayor, and in 1954 Averrill Harriman as governor, thus bringing Tammany to the greatest political heights it had ever achieved. By 1955 DeSapio appeared on the cover of Time magazine and was seeking to be a national figure who could influence the Democratic party’s Presidential nomination, something no Tammany Hall boss since Martin Van Bure had achieved.  However, in selecting Harriman as governor he had destroyed the political career of Franklin Roosevelt, Jr, and thus totally alienated his mother Eleanor, and other reformers.  Furthermore DeSapio’s high visibility created by lectures and speeches made him a target for charges by the “reformers” that he was a “boss” controlling elections rather than the voters.  With Harriman’s defeat by Nelson Rockefeller in 1958, DeSapio’s  power waned as his liberal opponents including Eleanor Roosevelt and Herbert Lehman and many supporters of Adlai Stevenson  sought to  establish “reform” democratic clubs throughout the City to take over the democratic party  and have him removed as leader. In 1961 Mayor Wagner, notwithstanding having been elected in 1953 because of De Sapio’s support. joined this coalition and DeSapio and his allies in the “regular” Democratic party were disastrously defeated. DeSapio lost his own district in the Village, which under the reforms he had instituted, required that he resign as County leader. Although Hell’s Kitchen was such a stanch regular district that Eugene McManus remained, his status as a strong ally of the now defeated DeSapio in a borough in which the reformers had clearly become ascendant did not bode well for the future.

3.Jim McManus Takes Over As Hell’s  
   Kitchen District Leader And forms 
   Alliance with the West Side Kids    

    Meanwhile The Mc Manus Democratic Club continued to function as it had since the days of George Washington Plunkitt. The leader Eugene tried to do favors for the poor of the district who request it, to discusses politics with County committee man, office seekers, and to the extent he could to intercede with the City government on behalf of the district (although this was increasingly difficult since DeSapio’s defeat). The election of John F. Kennedy as President was a source of pride to the Irish and also an indication of how far they have come economically and politically from their old neighborhoods. More and more old Irish families began to leave the Hell’s Kitchen area for the suburbs, which like many inner City areas began to deteriorate,  Eugene McManus’ health was beginning to fail and his young son Jim began to take over more and more of his administrative duties, one of which was to replace departing county committee men. In 1963 he died suddenly. Jim who was then 26 informed the McManus Club leaders that he would like to take over his father’s position district leader and head of the Club. 

    A number of the older leaders of the Club such as Owen McGivern (later an Appellate Division Judge) and Joe Maggio, the President, met with  Jim to suggest that he was too young for such responsibilities, particularly in light of the difficulties the Club would be facing with the defeat of DeSapio, the rise of the reform movement and the exodus of the Irish from the neighborhood. Jim McManus however spurned their suggestion of a compromise in which there would be older interim leader firm knowing that he controlled 41 of the 80 County committee men who would have to elect the new district leader. “When you hold four aces you don’t have to negotiate” he reportedly told Judge McGivern, and young Jim succeeded to his father’s position as the district leader and head of the Club.

           However, at the time of his selection, objectively the odds were not high that either he or the Club would survive. While he dutifully continued to hold hours every Monday and Thursday to meet with constituents, to hold the semi-annual cocktail party and to try to meet with other district leaders and regular politicians (many of whom were twice his age and undoubtedly viewed him as a novelty), the wave of reform was sweeping across Manhattan and an old line Tammany Hall Club was something of an anachronism, a relic of a bygone era, of a politics whose time had come and passed. Now the machine that mattered in politics was television, and to most observers the day of the old line district leader who personally met voters and tried to serve as an intermediary with City Hall for a neighborhood was gone. Like the Indians on the plains as the whites moved westward many thought it was only a matter of time before the  McMani, who had controlled  Hell’s Kitchen politically for more than 70 years would soon disappear and be forgotten.

      In 1965, two years after  Jim assumed the leadership, Mayor Wagner chose not to run for reelection and John Lindsay, “fusion” candidate of the Republican and Liberal parties easily defeated Abe Beame of Brooklyn, the regular organization democratic candidate who was previously the City budget director and Comptroller under Wagner (before he turned on DeSapio). Lindsay, a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School who was a partner in the white shoe law firm of Webster Sheffield, was a highly photogenic Kennedyesque  candidate who promised to sweep away the corrupt old arrangements that had governed New York City in favor of new and modern management. He was strongly supported by the middle class including many liberal democrats and was the antithesis of Carmine DeSapio and the old Tammany Hall bosses. Certainly under the Lindsay administration there would be no role in or assistance from the City government for the McManus club that was an old line ally of Carmine DeSapio. Nevertheless, Jim McManus and the McManus Club carried on trying to help constituents, still providing a social function to the Irish and others of Hell’s Kitchen who attended his parties and sought his help, now largely with private contacts.
    As DeSapio had predicted to Jim, in the late 1960’s the reform movement began to fracture (as had been the problem with reform administrations in the late 19th and early 20th century}, and Lindsay’s hold on the electorate began to slip. He ran into conflict with union and other leaders resulting in a number of expensive strikes, and he was unable to implement many of is vaunted management changes and a number of those which he did didn’t work any way. By the end of Lindsay’s first term, the white middle class was alienated, and he lost the Republican nomination to Staten Island Senator John Marchi. Somewhat  surprisingly, he narrowly in 1969 was able to win a second term on the Liberal party line with a coalition of white liberals and minorities, but his ability to govern was compromised. With the flight of significant portions of the white middle class out of the City, the hostility of the Nixon administration, an increase in crime and decrease in City services, there was a deterioration of the City’s economic position which directly affected Hell’s Kitchen.

    The late 60’s were also a time of considerable social unrest and turmoil within the Democratic party nationally, and throughout the country. The war in Vietnam, which had been promoted by Lyndon Johnson, became highly controversial as many young student activists flocked to the campaigns of Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy to win the Democratic Presidential nomination. These campaigns brought a new generation of young people into politics who were distrustful of existing leaders and institutions. Concomitant with these changes in politics were  cultural changes involving the civil rights and women’s movement, sexual freedom and drugs. Even though Jimmy McManus the dutiful son of the old line Tammany leader whose father was the ally of the discredited Carmine DeSapio, would seem to be the antithesis of these modern trends, they would influence him and Hell’s Kitchen in ways that would arguably would permit him to survive as district leader for the next 45 years.

    On the West side of Manhattan, the reform clubs had elected William Fitts Ryan in the early 1960’s over Ludwig Teller4, the existing regular organization Congressman, and Ted Weiss, a City Council man a reform candidate also was seeking to move up to Congress. At the time most of the reform leaders were upper middle class followers of Adlai Stevenson, many of whom felt DeSapio and the regular party had not given Stevenson sufficient support.  As the Vietnam war accelerated in the late 1960’s, a group of activist students whose leaders—Dick Morris, Jerry Nadler, Richard Gottfried, Richard Dressner--were from the Stuyvesant high school debating team became active in politics with the reform clubs on behalf of Weiss against Leonard Farbstein, the regular candidate, who supported Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War. This  group  showed an ability to turn out student volunteers for campaigns and soon became experienced in grass roots ward politics. When Eugene McCarthy ran for President in the 1968  New Hampshire primary, they were in many ways, as the only experienced campaigners, the on the ground shock troops organizing fellow students from around New England for the primary, which proved the viability of an anti-war challenge to Lyndon Johnson (and would two and a half months later lead to Johnson’s withdrawal). Returning to New York and flush from the successful demonstration of student political power in the McCarthy campaign, they began to demand that members of their group be supported for public offices. The existing leaders of the reform clubs protested that they were merely kids (and in some cases barely voting age) and should wait their turn.5, which gave them the name the “West Side Kids” .

    After some try to run their own candidates, someone suggested that they contact young Jimmy McManus of the McManus Midtown Democratic Club in Hell’s Kitchen. For young anti-war activists who were the most radical left wing faction in the reform clubs to be seeking an alliance with the last representative on the West side of the old line Tammany Hall organization, which had been direct protégé of Carmine DeSapio, was to say the least highly unusual and unexpected. Nevertheless, Jim McManus and Dick Morris came to an understanding (presumably secret since neither side would want to admit to their rank and file at the time that they had an understanding with their philosophical enemy) that the McManus Club would support Dick Gottfried for state assembly and the Kids would support McManus in any challenge to his position as district leader (and possibly to become head of the Board of Election, a position in which McManus had no Interest) 6 McManus wanted the Kids to support Farbstein but they said this was politically impossible since they could not be seen as supporting a pro war candidate. As a compromise, it was agreed that the McManus Club and the Kids would support the anti-war candidate least likely to win in a primary with Farbstein. It was decided that this was Bella Abzug. They supported her and much to their surprise she won the primary in a victory that started her Congressional career.          

                 This strange alliance between Jimmy Mc Manus the old line Tammany Hall leader and the 1960’s anti war activists would shape the political landscape  of Hell’s Kitchen and the mid west side for the next 40 years.  Although neither group alone might have been strong enough to elect their candidates, together they were able to elect 21 year old Richard Gottfried to the state assembly in 1970 and to stave off a challenge to Gottfried in 1972. For the next 40 years up until the present day there would be no serious challenge to either Gottfried or McManus, and both are the longest serving public officials in the state assembly or New York County Democratic Committee respectively. In 1972 the McManus Club became probably the only regular club to actively support George McGovern in the primary, and the combination of having long haired student activists sent by Dick Morris to work out of the McManus Club clubhouse changed the attitudes of  both groups.. Jimmy and club members who might have assumed that the left wing  activists were complete nuts would now feel more comfortable working with  liberal activists from outside the district such as Bella Abzug.  The McGovern volunteers who previously thought that Tammany Hall was the personification of evil, would come away with an entirely different point of view seeing how the club was trying create a sense of community and  providing services to the neighborhood poor. Some of these volunteers would later live in Hell’s Kitchen after graduate school and become active members of the McManus club.     


    By 1973 when John Lindsay’s last term as Mayor ended, the political position of Jimmy McManus and his club was much more secure than when he took over the district leadership 10 years earlier. The reform movement which in 1963  had seemed destined to take over all of Manhattan was stalled, and McManus’s unorthodox alliance with the West Side kids had broadened the Club’s political base, as well as  Jim’s visibility and standing in the political community.

    The Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, however, was in much worse shape than it was 10 years earlier. In the eight years under John Lindsay the exodus of the white middle class residents from the City and the influx of welfare recipients from the South were straining the City budget. The City’s economy was hemorrhaging jobs, particularly the manufacturing jobs on which the Irish middle class had depended. Most  police and fireman who might have lived in Hell’s Kitchen a generation earlier now lived in the suburbs. It was said that  Manhattan would soon be limited to the very rich and the very poor with the middle and working class that had been the mainstay of the McManus Club squeezed out. Even more troubling was the decline of the theater district and the proliferation of pornographic book stores with peep shows and prostitutes who were beginning to ply their trade openly on eighth and ninth avenues. Soon it seemed possible that the theater district which after the decline of the docks was the only major source of employment for residents of Hell’s Kitchen might itself collapse because patrons from the suburbs and out of town would be reluctant to come to the area.   
        Politically, the voters were tired and disillusioned with the charismatic Mayor Lindsay’s promise of a clean and effective reform administration that would create a new and exciting “fun City”.  Rather his policies had split the middle class from the rich and the poor, and undermined the City’s historical economic base.  In 1973 Abe Beame, the unexciting organization Democrat from Brooklyn and perennial Comptroller, whom Lindsay had so roundly defeated in 1965 was elected Mayor on the slogan “if you know the buck you know the job.”   Although Beame’s mayoralty from 1974 to 1978 would be troubled by the City’s fiscal crisis, for Hell’s Kitchen  it would be a difficult but critical period in which events and decisions would lay the groundwork for the  area’s rebirth into what it is today.

        Beame had known Jim McManus and his father since Jim was a child. To a regular Democratic like Beame, the Democratic party district leader was presumptively the representative of the community. In Hell’s Kitchen where the McMani had been the district leaders for eighty years, to Mayor Beame they were the legitimate community spokesmen who knew the needs of the people, and with whom he could deal on community issues. Furthermore, at no time in the area’s history were the remaining working class residents of the community more in need of a credible advocate who could fight for their interests with City Hall. One of the great concerns of the Irish working class in Hell’s Kitchen in the late 60’s and early 1970’s was that they would be forced out of the community because developers would acquire tenements and build high rise luxury developments where they could never afford to live.  In fact already at the periphery, construction was begun on a  number of large buildings, such as the Sheffield on 57th Street between 8th and 9th and Manhattan Plaza on 42nd Street between 9th and 10th.

         The McManus Club had questioned whether these large luxury high rises—particularly Manhattan Plaza would be able to attract tenants in these locations. However, to protect the rest of Hell’s Kitchen from wholesale development of the type that had wiped out lower middle class neighborhoods on the East Side of Manhattan, the representatives of the community acting through the Clinton Planning Council (on which McManus Club representatives were significantly in evidence) sought to have the City enact a Clinton Special District in which no building of more than seven stories could be built. 7 Deputy Mayor John Zucotti agreed, once he could assure the Mayor that McManus supported the plan.

        A second and in many ways more serious problem of City wide significance was Manhattan Plaza, which was constructed with a $95 million Mitchell Lama loan as a luxury high rise. As the McManus Club had predicted, it was clear by the mid-1970’s that there was no way that tenants would pay luxury rents to live between 9th and 10th Avenue on 42nd Street given the neighborhood at the time. Thus, the developer of Manhattan Plaza, Richard Ravich, was facing bankruptcy as was the builder of the Sheffield, H.R. Shapiro. Thus these two buildings of more than 40 Stories stood as half finished hulks, where junkies and others could hide, hanging over the neighborhood, as a monument to the defeated dreams of an earlier period and the City’s spiral toward bankruptcy. In the case of Manhattan Plaza the situation was particularly serious because the City taxpayers had through the  the Mitchell Lama program guaranteed the loan, and such a loss of almost  at the time that the City was unable to pay its notes generally in the unprecedented fiscal crisis could have been another nail in its fiscal coffin. The idea was floated (presumably by Ravitch) that perhaps the building could be tenanted by low-income tenants with subsidies under Section 8 of the Federal housing Act.  While this might have taken the City off the hook, most of the recipients of Section 8 subsidies elsewhere in the City and the country were low income minorities, and there was a fear that the concentration of the standard Section 8 population in one area would lock Hell’s Kitchen into being a slum for the next 100 years, let alone the resentment through out New York and the rest of the country of soaking up most of the City’s Section 8 subsidies in one luxury building. The McManus Club thus bitterly opposed this solution.

    However, a creative and unorthodox alternative was suggested, Since many of the residents of Hell’s Kitchen worked in the theater and the arts, which were generally fairly low paying professions, why not reserve the majority of the units in the building for low – income artists and actors. After significant discussions, it was decided that a proposal would be made to the City that the apartments in Manhattan Plaza be reserved for low income tenants qualifying for Section 8 subsidies, 70%  of whom worked in some fashion in the arts and the theater, 20% of whom were from the community, and 10% of whom were elderly. The McManus club strongly supported this proposal and Jimmy McManus was the  logical person to sell this idea to the Beame administration. McManus. met personally with both Mayor Beame and his deputy Mayor John Zuccoti to see that the proposal, was adopted and implemented. While many have claimed credit for the idea, there is little doubt that Jimmy McManus the old line Tammany Hall leader, who ten years earlier might have been considered a relic of  a by gone era was the critical factor in obtaining Mayor al  support for this project which would lead the neighborhood in to the future. Ironically, though few realize it, fifteen years after the defeat of Carmine DeSapio and the death of Tammany Hall, John Kelly’s system of a democratic party leader serving as the intermediary between the community and the City government was functioning in Hell’s Kitchen at a much higher and more successful level than it ever had in the 19th Century.      
              An even more important but related problem than the bankruptcy of Manhattan Plaza that was facing the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood and the theater district was the rapid spread of pornographic theaters, peep shows, and male and female prostitutes on the streets along eighth and ninth avenues. In fact once the arrangement was made for Section 8 subsidies for Manhattan Plaza, the area along 42nd Street between 8th and 10th Avenue had deteriorated to such an extent that there was still a serious question as to whether anyone would live there even with deep subsidies in a luxury building. Eight the Avenue was so infested with aggressive prostitutes that increasing numbers of theater patrons from the suburbs and out of town become reluctant to go to the Broadway theater and there arose a serious question as to whether the Broadway theater could survive.

        While the Lindsay administration had made certain half-hearted attempts at so-called Times Square cleanup, these efforts were largely ineffective. Landlords could make significant short term profits by renting for pornographic purposes, and the Colombo crime family which reportedly controlled significant pornography distribution was flush with money having allegedly made huge profits on the distribution of such films as “Deep Throat” and the Devil in Miss Jones. On the other hand, for the Hell’s Kitchen resident not employed in such activities, the spread of pornography and prostitution represented a significant threat. The theater district, which  was a major source of employment, was rapidly losing business, and their ability to walk the streets safely was compromised by the proliferation of prostitutes. To the old line Irish and other residents represented by the McManus Club something had to be done, but with fairly liberal Supreme Court decisions and “porno chic” in essence protecting pornography, the question was what.

    One of the more interesting, unusual and unheralded programs to deal with this problem began in the spring of 1977. As detailed in a New York Times article dated April 7, 1977 by Judy Klemesrud, Cardinal Terence Cooke, speaking to parents at Holy Cross School on 8th Avenue and 43rd Street denounced the spread of pornography and called on all Catholics to demonstrate publicly against pornography in Hell’s Kitchen and to picket some of the more notorious pornographic establishments. This in many ways was an amazing and unprecedented request. While there may have been demonstrations against pornography in places like Tipton Iowa, or perhaps even conservative areas of Queens, public anti-pornography demonstrations a block from Times Square by residents of Hell’s Kitchen were  unheard of. Times Square going back to the days of the Tenderloin was always a risqué area. Furthermore, given the brazen nature of many of these prostitutes and their pimps there was potentially a fair amount of physical danger to anti-pornography demonstrators confronting them on the streets. In addition, it was widely believed that the mafia (actually the Colombo crime family) was a partner in many of the porno establishments, and it was unclear what they might do against demonstrations that directly affected their economic interests. Also public demonstrations were more commonly tactics of anti-war groups, not the Catholic Church or Tammany Hall political clubs (although the idea may have come from the tactics of such groups). 

    Nevertheless Cardinal Cooke’s call for volunteers to go out on the streets to fight pornography was met with an enthusiastic response. Led by Father Duffel of Sacred Heart Church and Father Rappelyea of Holy Cross with the strong backing of the McManus Democratic Club, groups of residents, largely the remnants of the old Irish community with a few younger professionals from the newer buildings, would go out every night to demonstrate against pornography on the streets, and at times confront the pimps and prostitutes and their customers. In a sense, not since the days of the Irish street gangs like the Gophers had their been such a fight for control of the streets of Hell’s Kitchen and certainly this one had much higher stakes—with the Catholic Church and groups like the McManus Club on one side and the  pimps, prostitutes, pornographers along with the Colombo crime family on the other.

    From the point of view of the residents, the effort had a number of surprising benefits. First, it alerted the rest of the New York metropolitan area that there really were actually people who lived in Hell’s Kitchen for whom pornography was not a victimless crime. Second it strengthened the backbone of Mayor Beame’s augmented Times Square anti-pornography task force to seek to shut down pornographic businesses, and of the local police to more aggressively try to arrest prostitutes. (prostitution after all was a crime, though hardly prosecuted under the Lindsay administration). Third, having groups of middle class people confronting the  prostitutes and pimps who thought they owned the streets made them less cocky and brazen. Fourth there developed a comraderie and greater sense of community among the residents who participated. Later theater owners, such as Gerald Schonfeld provided financial backing, and women’s groups joined the effort with pornography tours.

        With the combination of the resident demonstrations, enhanced legal efforts to shut down porno palaces, complaints to the police at all levels by community organizations such as the McManus Democratic Association, and an influx of tenants at Manhattan Plaza, slowly the tide began to turn in favor of the residents and against the pimps and prostitutes. An important milestone came when one of the more notorious burlesque houses between ninth and tenth  avenue was shut down through the efforts of the midtown task force.  The question was what was going to replace it.

        Robert Moss, the director of recently formed not for profit Off and Off Off  Broadway theater company called Playwrights Horizons, which was  losing its performance space at the Y on 51st Street and 8th Avenue because the Y was consolidating branches, desperately needed space for his planned productions. He heard about the newly vacant burlesque theater and inquired about renting space there. Although he could only pay a fraction of the rent that the burlesque was paying the landlord  Irving  Maidman agreed on a trial basis to permit him to move in. Maidman some years earlier had thought of trying to  use the space for Off Broadway theater productions. That he produced but his plays were disastrous flops  (he became called “No Hit Maidman”) and he became convinced that audiences wouldn’t go to Ninth and Tenth Avenue on 42nd Street. Moss would prove him wrong.

        Moss had a stable of young playwrights and actors and actresseses, a number of whom were recent graduates of the Yale Drama School, who were eager to have their work produced. At the time except for one or two blockbuster hits like “A Chorus Line” most Broadway productions were either revivals of successful plays or musicals from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s or imports from London, and it was very difficult for a new playwright to have their work produced. Playwright’s Horizons and other companies who would later join it on what would soon become 42nd Street Theater row offered younger less established playwrights a place to have their work produced. One, but by no means the only, example of this was the Playwright Wendy Wasserstein, whose first play “Any Woman Can’t” was performed at Playwrights Horizons in 1973 at the Y. In 1977 there was a staged reading at Playwrights Horizon of her first work to receive significant attention “Uncommon Women and Others” a thinly disguised depiction of her (as represented by the character Holly Kaplan, daughter of a well to do New York garment manufacturer) and her friends  from Mount Holyoke college five years after graduation. This play (later performed at the Marymount theater) featured such young then relatively unknown actresses as Glenn Close, Swoosie Kurtz, Jill Eikenberry, Ellen Parker and Alma Cuervo (later Meryl Streep was in the TV production), and was favorably reviewed by the New York Times drama critic Richard Eder. At the age of 27, this launched her career as an up and coming young playwright. It was followed by several other successful Off Broadway plays such as “Isn’t It Romantic” (about Janie Blumberg, a thirty year old single New York woman).Later in 1989 by the “Heidi Chronicles” (about a 40 year-old New York woman),  which won the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award for best play and was her first play to move to Broadway, where it played for 622 performances and established her as one of America’s leading feminist playwrights.     

    In fact the Off Broadway theaters in Hell’s Kitchen soon became an incubator for some of the leading American playwrights and actors  and actresses in a way that Broadway in this period was not. Wendy Wasserstein, for example, was writing about real problems of contemporary  New York women that weren’t being shown on Broadway (until her plays moved there). In a sense, these Off Broadway productions and theaters on theater row would influence and pull up the quality of productions on Broadway and help to revive the Broadway theater, which many feared was dying. Although when Playwright’s Horizons opened on 42nd Street it was not unusual for couples on their way to attend a performance to be accosted by prostitutes offering to show the man a better time than  his wife/date could, over time the block on 42nd Street between 8th and 10th Avenue improved so that it was demonstrably better than the block between 7th and 8th. Even at the beginning however, it became clear that if the theaters on theater row could offer quality entertainment with actresses like Glenn Close in plays by a writer like Wendy Wasserstein people would come over to 9th Avenue.

        As Hell’s Kitchen improved after the successful fight to drive out the pimps and prostitutes, the possibilities for development increased. For example, the site of the old Madison Square Garden at Eighth Avenue and 50th Street, which had stood vacant for almost 20 years even though excluded from the Clinton Special District, became the subject in 1985 of a proposal from the Zeckendorf  organization to build what is today World Wide Plaza. In typical Tammany style, the McManus association sought to have a certain number of  housing units (agreed upon to be 148) set aside for low income people from the neighborhood and then supported the proposal. Although other more radical tenant groups opposed the development, the fact that the McManus Club, which had been in the community for almost 100 years, supported it essentially rendered this opposition in effective, and the project went forward.  The same pattern was repeated with developments along the 42nd Street corridor, and along 57th Street, where the Sheffield was finished and opened.

    In 1978, Ed Koch replaced Abe Beame as Mayor. Although Koch had begun his political career as a liberal reformer and a bitter opponent of Carmine DeSapio, he had generally friendly relations with Jim McManus, and in fact in the one election in which McManus was challenged in 1984, Koch appeared at his victory party. Koch’s approach to his position as Mayor was to support development and economic growth in the City generally by privatizing City development efforts through leases of land to private developers who would construct projects. He thus sought to act as a cheerleader for economic activity, which revived in the 1980’s. One of his major projects was Times Square redevelopment, which involved the condemnation and purchase of land in the block between seventh and eighth avenues, the historical heart of 42nd Street and the theater district. It was proposed that the entire block would be condemned and acquired by the City and then or sold/ leased to private developers who would construct large office buildings with heavy City subsidies. In this way this central but deteriorated  block now home to the same kind of urban blight of prostitutes, pimps and a number of pornographic bookstores as in Hell’s Kitchen in the 70’s would be replaced by a modern state of the art commercial district.  The plan was bitterly opposed by the Durst and Brandt families who were the major landowners on the block as a waste of taxpayer money and totally out of character with the historical role of the area as the City’s entertainment center. However, the plan was approved by the City’s Board of Estimate and most of the land was condemned. By the time all the lawsuits challenging the project were settled, the success of the efforts to defeat the urban blight in Hell’s Kitchen was becoming clear, and many began to ask more loudly why such a huge government subsidized project was necessary, if on the next block across eighth avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, with Manhattan Plaza and theater row there could be such substantial development of clean entertainment uses without large government subsidies. It was rarely, if ever mentioned that, unlike the massive redevelopment plan for Times Square which was designed in an office downtown, the moving force for the redevelopment of the area West of Eighth had been the community and its political leadership—principally Jimmy McManus and the McManus Democratic Association. However, partially as a result of these considerations and the stock market crash of 1987, there were significant revisions to the Times Square redevelopment plan to include more entertainment uses, and ultimately to include the Durst family as a developer of  several of the office buildings.      
    Politically, Jimmy McManus remained the democratic district leader in Hell’s Kitchen. Now one of the senior and longest serving members of the New York County Democratic Committee he made several  attempts to become its leader (which would have meant he would have held the position traditionally as head of Tammany Hall)  only to be defeated by Denny Farrell, a district leader from Harlem. His McManus democratic club continued to function as it had in the days of his great grand uncle in that it would try to help constituents who sought assistance with personal or governmental problems and to hold semi-annual cocktail parties and a breakfast on St. Patrick’s day. However, because of civil service its ability actually to find jobs for members was much more limited than in the 19th century. Also while  it remained a place where people of different economic and ethnic groups could come to talk about local politics and their personal problems, many of the newer and younger upper middle class residents of the district would never know about it or think to avail themselves of its services.

    It also retained some political functions. Dick Gottfried, the Club’s candidate, remained the area’s New York State Assemblyman, and in 1992 when Congressman Ted Weiss died suddenly by law the county committeemen from the Congressional district in convention had to select a replacement. Even though the McManus Club had only 75 out of 1000 convention delegates, because unlike the reform clubs they voted as a block they were able to see that Jerry Nadler was selected. Also in the 1992 Democratic presidential race, Jim McManus became one of the leaders of  New York campaign for Paul Tsongas for whom he was a delegate at the Democratic convention held at Madison Square Garden. Because the convention was held in the McManus Club district, the Club’s members were active with the host committee for the highly successful 1992 Democratic convention which nominated Bill Clinton. In 1993 when Rudy Giuliani a Republican Liberal defeated David Dinkins for Mayor, the Club maintained good relations with Giuliani even though he was a Republican, and in fact in an unprecedented move supported Giuliani in 1997 over his Democratic opponent Ruth Messinger. In 2001 it supported Mark Green over Michael Bloomberg in an unusual race dominated by  the 9/11 tragedy.

    Throughout all this McManus did not succumb to the temptation to become  a paid political consultant which would have been much more lucrative, as did some of his former allies such as Dick Morris and Richard Dresdner. Beginning in the 1980’s Morris set up a political consulting firm which worked for both Democrats and Republicans and later primarily Republicans. In 1996 he returned to Democrats when he became Bill Clinton’s primary reelection strategist after the disastrous 1994 midterm elections. Simultaneously his former partner and West Side kid Richard Dresdner secretly represented Russian President Boris Yeltsin in his reelection campaign.

    Meanwhile the development of the West Side, including Times  Square and Hell’s Kitchen continued fitfully, new luxury residential buildings were built along 42nd Street on to 11th Avenue in an area where in the 1970’s only prostitutes and pimps and their customers would dare to roam. Manhattan Plaza in a recent (2008) video made by filmmaker residents called Miracle on 42nd Street was hailed as one of the most successful low income projects in the history of the Federal Housing program, and a tremendous boon to the surrounding area’s economic development. In 2009, the Broadway League of theaters reported that for the first time Broadway shows took in more than $ 1 billion. Hell’s kitchen is now dotted with trendy restaurants and boutiques, although there remains interspersed low rise and low income housing thanks to the Clinton Special District and other incentives which Jimmy McManus negotiated in the 1970’s. 

V. Tammany Hall Real Last Positive Stand

    Very few of the people working in the new office buildings or living in the new apartment buildings realize that Hell’s Kitchen and the theater district might never be what they are today were it not for the efforts of Tammany Hall’s last great district leader, Jimmy McManus. Whereas most authorities consider Tammany Hall to have ceased to exist with the defeat of Carmine DeSapio  fifty years ago, and in 1963 when Jim McManus became district leader in 1963 many would have considered  him and the McManus Democratic Club to be  a relic of a by gone area, in reality it was this organization from the 19th Century that perhaps more than any other would lead Hell’s Kitchen and the theater district into the more prosperous 21st century.  The midwest side today can thus truly  be considered Tammany’s Last Stand.

James S. Kaplan is  a tax and estate lawyer at the firm of Herzfeld & Rubin, P.C., and a walking tour historian and writer, who will be giving a walking tour of Hell's Kitchen on March 12 at 1PM for CultureNow--the Museum without Walls (Culture Now. org). He also annually gives tours on July 4 at 2AM to 6AM for the Fraunces Tavern Museum,  of Wall Street on the anniversary of the 1929 Crash for the museum of American Finance, of Harlem during Harlem Week and on the history of the Jews in New York on the anniversary of their arrival in 1653, all of which can be heard in their entirety on the Culture Now website. He has recently written articles on Thomas Paine, General Horatio Gates, Henry Hudson and Phlip Payton for Last Exti Magazine--and on Bruce and Wendy Wasserstein for Financial History magazine. Earlier he wrote articles for Talking Turkey on the election of Thomas Jefferson, the rise of banking in New York, the greater consolidation of 1898 and an unpublished classic on Charles Francis Murphy.

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