Restructuring the New York City Government: The Reemergence of Municipal Reform

Restructuring the New York City Government: The Reemergence of Municipal Reform

Restructuring the New York City Government: The Reemergence of Municipal Reform

Restructuring the New York City Government: The Reemergence of Municipal Reform

Excerpt

Questions of municipal reform were central to political science during the late nineteenth century, the founding era of the profession, and therefore to the Academy of Political Science in its early years. A review of the first volumes of the Political Science Quarterly reveals an interest in every aspect of the progressive agenda for the reconstruction of municipal government in America. In fact, more than a fifth of all the articles published in the 1890s were on reform themes.

Because the Academy was located in New York City, because many of its founding members lived and worked there, and because of the great national importance of New York, special attention was given in the Political Science Quarterly and later in the Proceedings to the city's governance. Articles on general themes concerning municipal government almost invariably presented examples drawn from New York City experience. But New York City government was also a specific focus. A notable early example is an article by Frank Goodnow in the Fall 1902 issue of the Political Science Quarterly concerning the 1901 charter changes, still regarded by experts as the best brief explanation of the effects of "the revolt of the boroughs" in the newly consolidated city. Later, during the great battle for municipal home rule at the 1915 New York State Constitutional Convention, the first issue of the Proceedings entirely devoted to the "Government of the City of New York" was published.

In ensuing decades, although occasional articles were published on city government, the Academy largely focused on national and international concerns. A rekindling of interest in municipal reform was signaled by the publication in 1960 of an issue of the Proceedings edited by Thomas Peardon on "The Urban Problems." Racial unrest in the mid-1960s intensified concerns about large cities, reflected by the appearance in 1968 of a Proceedings on "Urban Riots," edited by Robert H. Connery.

The following year Robert H. Connery and Demetrios Caraley edited the second issue of the Proceedings focused on the governance of New York City, "Governing the City: Issues and Options for New York." Additionally, since the mid-1960s . . .

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