On Saturday, March 4, we will host a provocative program about what became labeled as the New York “Police Scandal” of 1892. With powerful results, charges were sensationally leveled against police practice and Tammany Hall activity in the city of New York by one of Gotham’s leading citizens. The centerpiece of this Roundtable program will be a talk by Professor Daniel Czitrom, whose recent book on the scandal, New York Exposed, has been called a “tour de force of investigation and interpretation.” The program will be held at
2 p.m. in the McCloskey meeting room in the parish house of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral,
263 Mulberry Street, Manhattan. Suggested donation: $5.
By the late 1800s, Irish participation in city government and economic affairs had grown strong. This Irish influence could be seen in municipal institutions like Tammany Hall and the police and fire departments. Irish influence was also to be seen in the city’s labor movement, in the activism of revolutionary groups like Clan-na-Gael and even in efforts criticizing and opposing municipal power structures.
But in 1892 explosive charges of widespread political and economic corruption rocked the city’s status quo. They were levelled against Tammany Hall and the police department by Presbyterian minister Dr. Charles Henry Parkhurst. As president of the city’s Society for the Prevention of Crime, Parkhurst began an unstoppable crusade against election fraud, protectionism, graft, and extortion.
Two years later, his crusade forced the first sensational political investigation of the modern era and kick-started the Progressive Movement. Established by the New York State Senate, the Lexow Committee heard testimony from nearly 700 witnesses from all walks of New York life. It revealed shocking and unprecedented details—including how police managed New York’s lucrative vice economy, extorted payoffs from respectable businesses, and enjoyed immunity from charges of brutality. These and later activities emerged amidst the larger contexts of machine politics, national elections, nativism, the depression of 1893, vote fraud and suppression, police violence, and anti-urbanism.
This program will feature a provocative and revealing expert talk on the issues. The diverse roles of Irish New Yorkers on all sides will get special attention.
Born and raised in The Bronx, NY, Daniel Czitrom is Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College, with special interest in the history of New York City and twentieth century America. His latest book is New York Exposed: The Gilded Age Police Scandal That Launched the Progressive Era (Oxford, 2016). Czitrom’s other books include Rediscovering Jacob Riis (2008) and Media and the American Mind: From Morse to McLuhan (1982). He served as historical advisor for the BBC America historical drama Copper (2011–13) set in Civil War-era New York, and he has appeared as a featured on-camera commentator in numerous documentary film projects.
In the mid-1800s, Irish Catholics arrived in the U.S. in dramatic numbers. They were often confronted with severe and ugly discrimination, and they reacted in various ways. One such reaction—uncommon in its time—was that of Fr. Sylvester Malone. To hear more about this unique man, join us and Geoffrey Cobb on Saturday, May 6 at 2 p.m. in hall of historic St. Mary’s Church, 440 Grand Street (east of Clinton St.), Manhattan. Take F, J, or M trains to Delancy St. stop. Reception to follow. Suggested donation: $5.
Father Sylvester Malone, (1821–1899) one of the builders of the diocese of Brooklyn, established the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 1844 and served as the church’s pastor for an amazing fifty-one years. Malone grew the parish from a few dozen souls to five thousand, but his work in building bridges to non-Catholics is his greatest legacy.
Born in Trim, Co. Meath in 1821, Malone was lucky enough to be educated at a mixed denomination school where many of his friends were Protestants. His friendliness to non-Catholics would later serve him well in America. Recruited to become an American priest, Malone arrived in 1840 and was ordained four years later and sent to Brooklyn, where he encountered the fierce anti-Catholicism of the nativists. Malone not only overcame this prejudice, but also won the admiration of Protestant clergy through his passionate devotion to the Union cause in the Civil War and his fervent ecumenisms. His death in 1899 was mourned not only by thousands of Catholics, but also by all the religious groups in Williamsburg.
Geoffrey Cobb is a Brooklyn historian who teaches at the High School for Service and Learning. He has recently published his second book, The King of Greenpoint, a biography of Peter McGuinness, Brooklyn’s colorful political leader. His earlier book, Greenpoint: Brooklyn’s Forgotten Past, presents the stories of people who shaped the area’s history. Mr. Cobb has lived in Brooklyn, and researched its history, for nearly twenty-five years.
On Saturday, Oct. 22, the NYIHR will provide a special program on Manhattan’s Inwood, once the largest Irish community in New York. Author Edward Hagan and Roundtable president John Ridge will collaborate to re-capture Inwood, its institutions, values—and its expectations for its inhabitants. This program will take place at 2 p.m. in the McCloskey meeting room in the parish house for the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, 263 Mulberry Street Manhattan. A reception will follow.
By the mid-nineteenth century, metropolitan New York was growing its great Irish enclaves—including Highbridge, Greenwood, Woodside, Chelsea, Vinegar Hill, Hell’s Kitchen, and Knightsbridge. On the very tip of Manhattan Island there was Inwood. The Irish population of Inwood flourished with completion of the IRT subway in 1902, the IND in 1932, and a boom in housing. Over the next half-century the area sustained a strong Irish-American culture evidenced by traits like Catholic parishes and schools, Irish stores and pubs, Irish clubs and associations, and an Irish football field right in Inwood Hill Park.
In the mid-twentieth century, as Edward Hagan describes in To Vietnam in Vain: Memoir of an Irish-American Intelligence Advisor, 1969–70, growing up in Inwood meant becoming enculturated into this vibrant community and meeting its expectations. Over the first decades of his life, Inwood instilled and confirmed for him definite anticipations about how he, as a young Irish-American man, should proceed in the world—and about how the world would respond to him. Then, a year after his graduation from Fordham University and commissioning as a second lieutenant, Hagan became an Army intelligence advisor in Vietnam—and these expectations collided with the grim realities in that Asian country where he encountered failed leadership, corrupt governance, and routinized killing. How these experiences influenced him—and how he now sees Inwood and the war—are questions to be addressed in this uncommon Roundtable program.
Edward A. Hagan, the son of Irish immigrants, served as a U.S. Army intelligence officer in Vietnam. He is Connecticut State University Distinguished Professor of Writing at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, and is the author of numerous books and articles on war literature and on Irish literature. His recent memoir is To Vietnam in Vain: Memoir of an Irish-American Intelligence Officer, 1969–1970.
John Ridge is president of the New York Irish History Roundtable. He is the author of many articles and several books on the Irish in the New York City area. His last article, “World War II and the New York Irish,” appeared in volume 28 of New York Irish History. His book, Celebrating 250 Years of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, was published in Spring, 2011.
On Saturday, Dec. 3 author Eileen Sullivan will present a talk on changes in the culture of American Catholicism emerging from the works of nineteenth-century writers who created a distinctive—and influential—Irish-American literature. Examining characters and themes in novels published in 1830s to the 1870s, Professor Sullivan will shed new light on how, for example, Irish… Continue Reading
Greenpoint, in northern Brooklyn, is today one of the dynamic neighborhoods in New York City. Sometimes referred to as “Little Poland,” it once was home to large numbers of Irish and Irish-Americans who took advantage of its location and resources. Who were these Irish, and why did they settle in Greenpoint? To find out the… Continue Reading
For the ninth consecutive year, the New York Irish History Roundtable, Glucksman Ireland House NYU, and the Basilica of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral will celebrate an Irish-language Mass. Father Andrew O’Connor of St. Mary’s Church in Manhattan will be the celebrant. Liturgical music will be performed on the Basilica’s historic 1868 Henry Erben Organ by… Continue Reading
On Sunday, May 15, Roundtable President and historian John Ridge will lead a walking tour of locations in lower Manhattan important in the preliminary activities and subsequent actions related to the 1916 Easter Monday Rising in Dublin 100 years ago. This will be a special opportunity to see these New York sites through the perceptions… Continue Reading
The New York Carmelites & Irish Independence Saturday, October 31, 2–3:30 p.m. at Glucksman Ireland House, NYU Join us on Saturday, October 31 at 2 p.m. at NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House (1 Washington Mews at Fifth Avenue just south of Eighth Street) for a revealing talk on the roles of the Carmelite Friars of New… Continue Reading
William Niblo—Not Soon Forgotten Saturday, December 5 at 2 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, 263 Mulberry Street, Manhattan William Niblo was an early nineteenth-century Irish immigrant whose ambition and skill made him one of the first successful Irish entrepreneurs in what today is called the hospitality industry. What did he do, and how did… Continue Reading
Looking for Your Ancestors? A Lecture by Joseph Buggy Saturday, February 23rd, 2015, at 2 pm, at Glucksman Ireland House 1 Washington Mews (near 5th Avenue & 8th Street, Manhattan) Please join us on Saturday, February 28th, at 2 PM at NYU’s Glucksman Ireland House (1 Washington Mews at Fifth Avenue, just south of 8th… Continue Reading