Historical Archaeology

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 89–102 | Cite as

“Suckers, soap-locks, irishmen and plug-uglies”: Block 160, municipal politics and local control

  • Reginald H. Pitts


The Irish immigrants who arrived in the United States and settled in lower Manhattan during the 19th century were poor and powerless, subject to the vagaries of an unfeeling world. Among these immigrants were the residents of Block 160, the site of a new federal courthouse at Foley Square. The Irish were able to gain a measure of power and control over their lives by entering into the political arena. Starting out as outcasts, then as hangers-on, these people gradually gained a voice in how their neighborhood should be run. Politics provided a way for ambitious young men of the neighborhood, who were barred by lack of education or opportunity to get into one of the “learned professions,” to make a living, and even become wealthy. This study focuses on the role of local politics-including the power and influence of Tammany Hall-on the lives of the residents of Block 160 during the 19th century. It sketches how the residents were able to access power, and then profit from it.


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Copyright information

© Society for Historical Archaeology 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reginald H. Pitts
    • 1
  1. 1.John Milner AssociatesPhiladelphiaUSA

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