Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Paddy Bauler - Alderman, Saloon Keeper, Pretend Irish, Big Fat Guy: Part 2

This is the second of a two part series on Paddy Bauler, check out the first post here.

Bauler is probably most known for uttering the now infamous line "Chicago ain't ready for reform yet!" (often misquoted without the "yet") after the 1955 election of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley.

Bauler was also noted for altercations with Yippie party leader Abbie Hoffman during the tumultuous year of 1968.  Hoffman, every bit as an enigmatic figure as Paddy Bauler, had wreaked havoc amongst the Chicago democratic machine politics of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Party Convention, allegedly threatening to dump LSD into the city water supply, as well as to pull down Hubert Humphrey's pants.  Bauler's enthusiastic cry of electoral triumph has come to symbolize Chicago's historic and on going struggles with political corruption.  Suffice it to say, recent champions of political rectitude and historic re enactments, such as Milorad R. "Rod" Blagojevich and George Ryan have kept the tradition alive and well.

In case anyone is counting, that makes six governors that have been charged with crimes during or after their terms in offense (oops... I mean office).

Not surprisingly, Bauler was very much entwined in the Chicago political machine throughout his reign as alderman supreme.  According to his article "FATHERS, SONS AND UNHOLY GHOSTS", James L. Merriner notes that "Two of his (Bauler's) brothers were aldermen, another brother was a cop, his son was a sanitation superintendent, and anyone else even distantly related seemed to get city jobs somehow."

Ultimately, Bauler's contributions to the political culture were minimal beyond his use of patronage as he pushed for few legislative changes and general disdained reformers, calling one particularly bothersome reformer "so dumb he probably thinks the forest preserve is some kind of jelly" (quote thanks to David K. Fremon's "Chicago Politics, ward by ward" )

Perhaps a little discussion of the 43rd ward itself is warranted at this point.

Although the exact borders are irregular and have changed over the years, the 43rd Ward generally is bordered by North Avenue to the south, Diversey Avenue to the north, Sheffield Avenue to the west and the Lake Michigan to the east (an exact map of the ward can be seen here).  The ward, which contains all of the Old Town Triangle, and much of the Lincoln Park neighborhood was ruled supreme by Bauler from 1935 to 1943 and 1946 to 1967.  Bauler lost only one election in a 32 year span, which is a feat unrivaled by any previous or future alderman of the 43rd ward.  Although no official statistics exist, I will also wager that Paddy Bauler outweighed any of his peers of former and future 43rd ward alderman by at least 50lbs.

To this day, Paddy Bauler's considerable impact on the neighborhood can still be felt.  At the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Hurlbut (sometimes called Cleveland Avenue) lies Bauler park.  According to the Chicago park district:
In March 1970, the Chicago Park District purchased this two-thirds-acre property for park development through the Lincoln Park Urban Renewal Project. Initially called Ash Park as part of a city-wide program to name parks for plants and trees, the site was renamed Bauler Park in 1980. The new name honors Mathias "Paddy" Bauler (1890--1977), a colorful and controversial figure in Chicago politics. Bauler used his tavern business to create a political organization that propelled him to a 34-year (1933-1967) run as alderman and Democratic ward committeeman for the 43rd Ward. Bauler's name had been applied to another small park in his ward in the 1950s. This park property, at Armitage and Burling Streets, was redeveloped in the Orchard Mall project after 1979.
The images of this post are from a recent community park cleanup, mentioned on this blog here, and sponsored by the Chicago Park District as well as the Lincoln Central Association.  Some other beautiful images of the park can be found here, though to really appreciate the space, one need only visit on a warm spring day to see dozen's of children climbing, running and laughing.

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