The Tiger: The Rise and Fall of Tammany Hall

The Tiger: The Rise and Fall of Tammany Hall

The Tiger: The Rise and Fall of Tammany Hall

The Tiger: The Rise and Fall of Tammany Hall


The first complete history of America's most bizarre and longest-running political act. Stories of chicanery and finagling and rigged elections abound in this look at a bygone era in American politics.


New Yorkers may have thought they were used to reports of the evil machinations of Tammany Hall, the city's powerful Democratic political machine, but the story on the front page of the New York World on the morning of April 4, 1900, astonished them. The price of block ice—a humble but essential item in city life—was doubling from 30 cents to 60 cents. And Tammany, it appeared, was behind the increase.

The price jump was announced by the American Ice Company, a recently formed concern that had acquired great power in the city. American Ice not only owned most of the ice-making plants in the city but controlled all access to the city-owned piers where ice was unloaded, thereby barring competitors from doing any business in New York. Quite simply, American had a monopoly. From now on, if you did not get ice from American, you could not get any at all.

But American Ice had not achieved its monopoly unassisted. High‐ ranking members of Tammany Hall (which currently controlled the city government) had reportedly lent considerable support. In fact, the top Tammany leaders—so the World charged—were part owners of American and so stood to reap large profits from the company's increased revenues.

To understand the public outcry over the price hike, it is necessary to recall the importance of ice in the lives of everyday people a century ago. Electrical refrigeration was not yet invented. To preserve . . .

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