A political machine was an urban organization that was developed to win elections and rewards the rich and poor. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries in America, the political machine worked in the big cities controlled the party loyalists and would often create a “shadow government” who were more powerful than the real elected officials. In addition, the Democratic Party influence larger cities, where they controlled many political machines.
Many of these politicians were unethical because they would provide favors to poor immigrants and rich businessmen, where they would expect in return for political support and opportunities for wealth. William ‘Boss’ Tweed of Tammany Hall and Timothy D. ‘Big Tim’ Sullivan of the Bowery and Lower East Side districts of New York City were bosses of the Democratic political machines. These men rule their machine with an iron fist. The Democratic stated that nothing counts except to win, where they would go door-to-door pressure, newspaper articles, etc. were used to promote their business.
The political machine and the ‘boss’ provided solid benefits to the urban poor people. They had help in emergencies, government jobs, and many choices of social services. The political machine also gives entertainment for lower-class individuals such as rallies, speeches, picnic, parades and other fanfare. However, providing these benefits require the poor to support the political machine’s ‘boss’ on Election Day.
The machines also help businessmen to gain franchises for trolley lines and other utilities from the governments. The leaders of the political machine in many cities would become wealthy during their time of the ruling. Reformers started to blame issues that were happening in the city on the political machines and city governments because they were bribing others. Reformers focused more on changing the city government and improving social residents that live in the city.
The three innovations for the structural change in the city government were: citywide elections, commission-style government, and the city manager government. Since the reformers blamed the political machines for using their powers on the neighborhood and ward-based politics, reformers perform laws by creating citywide elections.
This simply means that each would elect a member to the city council. Reformers stated that this by this law it will corrupt local business owners, where the Democrats could easily buy votes.
Unlike the ‘Bosses’ the Progressive Era belief in organization and were proficient. For many reformers, they wanted experts to be in control of the city governments where they believe that this will improve the lives of residents. Detroit’s Hazen Pingree and Cleveland’s Tom Johnson fought the streetcar companies because they were charging high fares to many residents who were unable to pay for these services.
The streetcar companies were controlled under franchise agreements with the city. Meaning the city granted these companies the right to build streetcar lines in return for tax payments. Reformers also argued that the electric and gas companies were making a huge profit. They stated that public utilities should be controlled by the cities.
As a result, parking space and curving roads were created in the city plans which break up the monotony of sideline streets and large buildings. This movement also gives rise to proper zoning, which was first created in New York City in 1916. The property zoning put limitations on the structure of buildings that were allowed to be built on a specific property, which eventually spread to other cities.