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The City Beautiful Movement, while it had broad public support, was at its heart driven by the wealthy and educated elites who wanted to build a city they could take pride in. Vance McCormick was a prominent member of this group of leaders, his family wealth and Yale University degree putting him in a prime position to push the city forward. After years as an entrepreneur and owner of a number of newspapers, along with a membership in the reform-minded Municipal League, McCormick took up candidacy for Mayor as a Democrat, embracing the reform platform in a way his opponent never did.
McCormick’s role in the movement is easy to overlook in favor of other leaders like Mira Lloyd Dock and J. Horace McFarland. He was, after all, only mayor for 3 years, and soon took up a role in the statewide and national democratic party. But Vance McCormick’s steady leadership from a place of public authority granted a good deal of credence to the City Beautiful movement, and his support of the movement through both his wealth and media outlets was an important factor in its acceptance by the public. Without a man like McCormick in office, the City Beautiful Movement may never have moved past its early years to influence real policy, as it eventually would under McCormick.