Introduction

Man on Five

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During Richard J. Daley’s tenure as mayor, Chicagoans learned that to get something done in the city, you needed to talk to the “man on five.” From his office on the fifth floor of City Hall, Daley responded to the countless letters and memoranda that landed on his desk each day. He managed scores of city departments and programs that made the city function and created and monitored the city’s vast budget. Dignitaries, aldermen, commissioners, and other public servants made the trip to the fifth floor to pay their respects, plead their cases, and report on their successes and failures. A short elevator ride brought the mayor to the city council chambers, where he presided over a largely supportive group of aldermen. He was a hands-on mayor who reveled in his work and celebrated his city.

Mayor Richard J. Daley working in his fifth-floor office in City Hall, undated. RJD_04_01_0041_0001_014

Mayor Richard J. Daley working in his fifth-floor office in City Hall, undated. RJD_04_01_0041_0001_014

From his day-to-day life as mayor to his working relationship with some of the leading national politicians of his day, Daley’s family, friends, and former colleagues reflect on what it was like to witness firsthand his distinctive leadership style.

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He was in the general assembly. He was the minority leader in the senate. He was the Director of Revenue for the State of Illinois. He was the Cook County Clerk. Then he was the Mayor of Chicago. Whatever it took to make things happen in the government, he knew how to make it happen. He was the one who created the structure for the City of Chicago.

Thomas Donovan, Administrative Assistant to Mayor Richard J. Daley, interview excerpt, April 2, 2009

Richard J. Daley with hands raised in victory after his first mayoral election victory, 1955. RJD_04_01_0012_0002_025

Richard J. Daley with hands raised in victory after his first mayoral election victory, 1955. RJD_04_01_0012_0002_025

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Richard J. Daley is sworn in as Chicago’s mayor on April 20, 1955. Click on image to play video.

Video: Excerpt from “1955 Inauguration,” RJD_04_02_0000_0000_213

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Richard J. Daley speaks to reporters about his victory over Republican Benjamin Adamowski in 1963 by 55 percent of the vote. That contest was the closest of Daley’s mayoral career. Click on image to play video.

Video: Excerpt from “Richard J. Daley: The Trees He Planted,” written and produced by Joe Howard, Executive Producer Ed Planer. RJD_04_0000_0000_162