Gotham's War Within a War: Anti-Vice Policing, Militarism, and the Birth of Law and Order Liberalism in New York City, 1934-1945


Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships


Social Science


“Gotham's War Within a War” explores how mobilizing the United States for World War II changed policing at home. It argues that city leaders who had fought to intensify anti-vice policing practices in the 1930s found new openings for these policies in the militarism that accompanied the war. The project, which is under contract with the University of North Carolina Press, examines policing in New York City from 1934, when reform mayor Fiorello La Guardia took office and named Lewis Valentine his police commissioner, to 1945, when both municipal leaders retired. The duo sought to expand the enforcement of prohibitions on delinquency, prostitution, gambling, and disorder in an increasingly interracial city. It was not until the mobilization for war, however, that these policing practices, which targeted New Yorkers of color and working-class women, met with success.