Browse Exhibits (2 total)

The Campaigns for Improvement

City Beautiful would not have begun, nor would it have had its initial success had it not been for the campaigns for improvement. The first campaign that will be discussed in this section is the Mayoral Race of 1902 Harrisburg. In this, Democrat Vance McCormick was elected and eventually became the most influential mayor of Harrisburg. The second campaign discussed is the campaign for improvements throughout Harrisburg. Starting with the Municipal League of Harrisburg, this section will discuss the proposed improvements for the city made by the Municipal League, including a filtration system for the water supply to eliminate the threat of typhoid, and cleaning up the streets of Harrisburg. Finally, Harmony and Opposition will explore the newspaper battle within Harrisburg at this time. Newspapers, the Municipal League of Harrisburg, and Mayor Vance McCormick all fought for the future of Harrisburg, and the belief that the city could be made beautiful.

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Vance McCormick

Mayor-Elect Vance C. McCormick.JPG

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.  

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