Manage episode 228790392 series 1530999
EPISODE 285: The roots of modern American corruption traces themselves back to a handsome -- but not necessarily revolutionary -- historic structure sitting behind New York City Hall.
The Tweed Courthouse is more than a mere landmark. Once called the New York County Courthouse, the Courthouse better known for many traits that the concepts of law and order normally detest -- greed, bribery, kickbacks and graft.
But Tammany Hall, the oft-maligned Democratic political machine, served a unique purpose in New York City in the 1850s and 60s, tending to the needs of newly arrived Irish immigrants who were being ignored by inadequate city services. But they required certain favors like the support of political candidates.
And that is how William 'Boss' Tweed rose through the ranks of city politics to become the most powerful man in New York City. And it was Tweed, through various government organizations and his trusty Tweed Ring, who transformed this new courthouse project into a cash cow for the greediest of the Gilded Age.
How did the graft function during the construction of the Tweed Courthouse? What led to Tweed's downfall? And how did this literal temple to corruption become a beloved landmark in the 1980s?