This first series of images is a collection of photographs
and sketches from the turn-of-the-century era depicting Tammany
Hall, Boss Tweed, Tammany's most famous leader, and public opinion
of the political organization. As a public figure, Boss Tweed
essentially represented Tammany's political nature, unwilling
to hide or change his corrupt politics.
The organization's parallel exploitative, self-serving nature
and "honest dishonesty" are two features Steffen's
focuses on in his discussion of "good government"
and Tammany Hall as the constant alternative in New York's dynamic
Situated in the heart of New York City, Tammany Hall itself
was as prominent a structure as was the organization it housed,
its tall columns, impressive facade, and central location symbols
of Tammany power and money. Decorated as much like an opera
house or theatre as a political office, Tammany Hall shameless
reaped the rewards of its political successes, self-lavingingly
displaying its power and triumph.
Click Boss Tweed to view a series
of contemporary political cartoons that expand Steffen's appraisal
to public consensus, demonstrating explicitly the overt Tammany
corruption and backhanded policies, especially with respect
to Boss Tweed, tolerated by the New York City public. Click
here to read Steffen's full discussion
of New York City politics and the role played by Tammany Hall.
The second series of contemporary images depicts New York City
during the era of Steffen's writings; America's first city and
a thriving metropolis, but torn between worlds of an emerging
commercial juggernaught and the spreading working-class squallor
of a city of immigrants.
The turn of the twentieth century was an important moment across
American history and especially for New York, as the city emerges
from political corruption and the social struggle Steffens observes,
soon to raise her famous sky scrapers and emerge as the world's
first city. Built on through the thirties by America's poor
immigrants, these symbols of New York reflect the sharp socio-economic
dichotomy in the city, another significant element in understanding
Steffen's politically tumultuous period.
A symbol of freedom for the arriving immigrants and American
triumph and power for the emerging commercial aristocracy, The
Statue of Liberty unifies New York's opposed demographics, presenting
a true symbol of hope and Americanness unfettered by politics and corruption, capturing the wild spirit
into the early twentieth century.
Click below and select another city to explore, or return home.