City Bosses in the United States: A Study of Twenty Municipal Bosses

By Harold B. Zink | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
"JUDGE" GEORGE W. OLVANY

The outstanding municipal boss in brevity of leadership is the recent Tammany leader, George Washington Olvany. With somewhat less than five years between his election to the post left vacant by the death of the veteran Charles Francis Murphy and his resignation as head of Tammany Hall, it is obviously not possible to deal extensively with his career as political baron. Nevertheless, his preparation, experience as leader, and his quite unusual resignation make it amply worthwhile to consider him.

Not far from the childhood home of Governor Alfred E. Smith on the East Side of New York City George Olvany was born slightly more than fifty years ago--to be exact, on June 20, 1876. His father, James J. Olvany, was a native of the United States. His mother, Harriet E. Olvany, immigrated to the United States from England. A paternal great-grandfather linked the family with Ireland. James J. Olvany, who died shortly before his son became leader of Tammany Hall, made a living as boss truckman and during his later years as an employee of the Edison Company. In addition to George the Olvanys had three children, a son and two daughters.1

When George Olvany was not yet a year old, his family moved from 1 Pike Street to Greenwich Village, where they have since resided. Here George passed through public school number three. After he had completed grammar school, he attended business college for a time. Then he worked his way through New York University Law School,

____________________
1
Mr. Olvany has been quite generous as well as patient in furnishing information relative to his background. Because of his kindness it has been possible to obviate a number of factual errors. New York newspapers are unfortunately somewhat inaccurate in their statements. But see the New York Times, July 15, 1924.

-164-

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