William O'Dwyer

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William O'Dwyer

Birthdate: (74)
Birthplace: Lismirrane, Bohola, Mayo, Ireland
Death: November 24, 1964 (74)
Beth Israel Hospital, New York, New York, United States (heart failure)
Place of Burial: Arlington, VA, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Patrick O'Dwyer and Bridget O'Dwyer
Husband of Catherine O'Dwyer
Ex-husband of Elizabeth Sloan O'Dwyer
Brother of Kathleen McCaffrey; Josephine O'Dwyer; James O'Dwyer; Frank O'Dwyer; John O'Dwyer and 4 others

Managed by: Douglas Arthur Kellner
Last Updated:

About William O'Dwyer

William O'Dwyer (July 11, 1890 – November 24, 1964) was the 100th Mayor of New York City, holding that office from 1946 to 1950.

William O'Dwyer was born in County Mayo, Ireland and migrated to the United States in 1910, after abandoning studies for the priesthood. He worked as a laborer, then as a New York City police officer, while studying law at night at Fordham University Law School. He received his degree in 1923 and then built up a successful law practice before serving as a Kings County (Brooklyn) Court judge. He won election as the Kings County District Attorney in 1939 and his prosecution of the organized crime syndicate known as Murder, Inc. made him a national celebrity.

After losing the mayoral election to Fiorello La Guardia in 1941, O'Dwyer enlisted in the Army, achieving the rank of brigadier general.

In 1945, O'Dwyer received the nomination of the Tammany Hall Democrats and easily won the mayoral election. At his inauguration, O'Dwyer celebrated to the song, "It's a Great Day for the Irish," and addressed the 700 people gathered in Council Chambers at City Hall: "It is our high purpose to devote our whole time, our whole energy to do good work..." He established the Office of City Construction Coordinator, appointing Robert Moses to the post, worked to have the permanent home of the United Nations located in Manhattan, presided over the first billion-dollar New York City budget, created a traffic department and raised the subway fare from five cents to ten cents. In 1948, O'Dwyer received The Hundred Year Association of New York's Gold Medal Award "in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York."

Shortly after his re-election to the mayoralty in 1949, O'Dwyer was confronted with a police corruption scandal uncovered by the Kings County District Attorney, Miles McDonald. O'Dwyer resigned from office on August 31, 1950. Upon his resignation, he was given a ticker tape parade up Broadway's Canyon of Heroes in the borough of Manhattan. President Harry Truman appointed him U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. He returned to New York City in 1951 to answer questions concerning his association with organized crime figures and the accusations followed him for the rest of his life. He resigned as Ambassador on December 6, 1952, but remained in Mexico until 1960.

He was extremely popular among Jews, and paid them back after he was Mayor by visiting Israel for 34 days in 1951. [1] He helped organize the first Israel Day Parade, along with New York's Jewish community.

O'Dwyer's brother Paul O'Dwyer was also a New York City politician, and served as the then-city-wide elected position of City Council President from 1974 through 1977.

William O'Dwyer died in New York City on November 24, 1964, in Beth Israel Hospital, at the age of 74 of heart failure.He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


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William O'Dwyer's Timeline

July 11, 1890
Bohola, Mayo, Ireland
November 24, 1964
Age 74
New York, New York, United States
Arlington, VA, United States