Mayor Robert F. Wagner and the Unfinished Business of the New Deal
Mayor Robert F. Wagner constructed an interest group coalition to support the extension of social services in New York and an increase in the size and scope of local government. Mayor Wagner also increased the administrative strength of local government by reforming and professionalizing city agencies, and developing policy and budget capacity within the office of the mayor. Mayor Wagner allowed city workers to organize unions, established the municipal hospital system, increased education spending and built public housing. While Mayor Wagner initially partnered with Tammany Hall leader Carmine De Sapio in the 1950s, tensions mounted as the mayor sought to establish his independence from the city’s political party leaders, and to avoid traditional patronage politics at a time when reformers were growing increasingly unhappy with clubhouse politics.
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