American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley - His Battle for Chicago and the Nation

American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley - His Battle for Chicago and the Nation

Adam Cohen

Language: English

Pages: 614

ISBN: 0316834890

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Now in paperback comes the story of Richard J. Daley, the last of the big city bosses, the patriarch of a political dynasty, and a major national figure in American urban politics. of photos.

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activists at the time who were meeting with some success. On the South Side, the Organization for the Southwest Community worked to stabilize endangered neighborhoods that stood about a mile “behind the line” of the advancing black population. OSC staff tore down illegal “sold” signs put up by panic peddlers, and held public burnings to protest real-estate scare tactics. The group confronted city inspectors, challenging their failure to enforce building codes and their inaction in the face of

were part social circle, part political organization, and part street gang. The athletic clubs placed a premium on toughness and loyalty. The Ragen’s Colts’ motto could have belonged to any of them: “Hit me and you hit two thousand.” Young men like Daley often ended up on the wrong end of the local policeman’s billy club. “All they wanted to do was just beat you over the head,” Daley would later say, revealingly, about the policemen of his youth. When they were not testing the limits of the law,

says Daniel Rostenkowski, “but when shove came to push he wasn’t going to take it.” Chicago City Hall, not Washington, was the center of Daley’s world. Years later, when machine loyalists briefly sported “Daley for President” buttons at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, it was understood that he would not be interested in that job. “The mayor doesn’t want to be president,” the joke went. “He just wants to stay here and send one of his guys down there to the White House.” 1 Daley’s

have any more success. 37 Martin Luther King, who was by now leaning strongly toward bringing his movement north to Chicago, had his mind made up for him one sweltering summer night in Los Angeles. On August 11, 1965, a California highway patrolman pulled over a black man for what should have been a routine driving-while-intoxicated stop. But Watts, a northern-style ghetto set down among the palm trees of Southern California, responded by erupting in rioting. As false rumors spread — among

Daley made a concerted effort during the campaign to raise his public profile through the increasingly important medium of television. He eagerly appeared on the local NBC show City Desk. To smooth his rough Bridgeport edges, he took diction lessons through the Northwestern University speech department. Even with this expert advice, however, Daley still badly mangled syntax and vocabulary, at times fading into incomprehensibility. At a televised roundtable, he was asked whether he would serve out

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