Edward Joseph Kelly

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Edward Joseph Kelly
Mayor Kelly in 1937.
46th Mayor of Chicago
In office
April 17, 1933 – April 15, 1947[1]
Preceded byFrank J. Corr
Succeeded byMartin H. Kennelly
Chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party
In office
Preceded byPatrick Nash
Succeeded byJacob Arvey
Personal details
Edward Joseph Kelly

(1876-05-01)May 1, 1876
Chicago, Illinois, United States.
DiedOctober 20, 1950(1950-10-20) (aged 74)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Resting placeCalvary Cemetery (Evanston, Illinois).
Political partyDemocratic
Mary E. Roche
(m. 1910; died 1918)
Margaret E. Kirk
(m. 1922⁠–⁠1950)
ResidenceChicago, Illinois

Edward Joseph Kelly (May 1, 1876 – October 20, 1950) was an American politician who served as the 46th[3] Mayor of Chicago from April 17, 1933 until April 15, 1947.

Prior to being mayor of Chicago, Kelly served as chief engineer of the Chicago Sanitary District during the 1920s.

Early life and career[edit]

Born to Stephen, a police officer and Helen (née Lang) Kelly, he was the first of five Chicago mayors from Bridgeport of Chicago's South Side.[4] He did not complete grammar school but entered the labor force at age ten.[5]

Kelly was the chief engineer of the Chicago Sanitary District in the 1920s. He was sponsored by Patrick Nash, the owner of a sewer-contracting company that did millions of dollars of business with the city.[6]

Political career[edit]

President of the South Park Commission[edit]

In March 1924, Kelly became president of the South Park Commission.[7] Upon his election he declared the end to an era of "Deenen Republicans", a faction of South Side Republicans allied with Robert R. McCormick which had lost control of the South Park Commission in the March 1924 municipal elections.[7]

He presided over the completion and opening of Soldier Field, which was built and operated by the South Park Commission.[7]

Kelly organized many public ceremonies and events hosted by the venue.[7] He made the venue the site of fundraisers and other events for charities and organizations which were supported by the Democratic Party.[7]

Mayor of Chicago (1933–1947)[edit]

Kelly with Harry S. Truman after he was nominated for Vice President at the 1944 Democratic National Convention in Chicago

Following the assassination of Mayor Anton Cermak, Kelly was hand-picked by his friend, Patrick Nash, Chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party, to be the Democratic-backed candidate in the City Council's vote on a successor for Cermak.[8] Together, Kelly and Nash built one of the most powerful, and most corrupt, big city political organizations, called the "Kelly-Nash Machine".[citation needed]

Kelly was Mayor of Chicago during the 1933–34 Chicago World's Fair (Century of Progress) which took place during the Great Depression which included the successful playing of the first official Major League Baseball All-Star Game; Kelly initiated for holding a major sport event for the fair to the Chicago Tribune. Kelly was famous for banning Nelson Algren's 1942 book Never Come Morning, a novel, from the Chicago Public Library; the ban remained in force for decades due to the outcry by Chicago Polonia upon its release.[citation needed]

In 1937, the city received a grant and loan from the Works Progress Administration to begin construction on subways, with a groundbreaking being held December 17, 1938 for the city's first subway. The WPA funding would only partially cover the total cost of the subway (ultimately working out to 3/4 of the total cost).[9] Kelly was also able to obtain WPA financing for projects such as a refurbishment of Midway Airport and roadway improvements.[9]

During Kelly's tenure, the city was finally able to unify public transit with the establishment of the Chicago Transit Authority.[9]

End of Tenure[edit]

In 1947, Kelly acquiesced to the Cook County Democratic Party's decision to slate a candidate with reform credentials for mayor of Chicago, and was succeeded by Martin H. Kennelly.[10]


Kelly died in 1950 at age 74 and was interred in Calvary Cemetery in Evanston, Illinois.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ NNDB – Edward J. Kelly
  2. ^ Chicago Public Library website
  3. ^ "Chicago Mayors". Chicago Public Library. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Political History of Bridgeport". University of Illinois - Chicago. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  5. ^ Life Magazine, 17 July 1944, page 73
  6. ^ "History of Chicago from Trading Post to Metropolis (Module 3 Chapter 2-Chicago During the Great Depression)". Roosevelt University. 2006. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-29.
  7. ^ a b c d e Ford, Liam T.A. Ford (2009) [2009]. Soldier Field: A Stadium and Its City (1st ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  8. ^ "Edward J. Kelly Elected as New Mayor of Chicago – Takes Oath of Office After Action by City Council". Chicago Tribune. April 14, 1933. p. 38. Archived from the original on March 3, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2015.
  9. ^ a b c Simpson, Dick (8 March 2018). "Rogues, Rebels, And Rubber Stamps: The Politics Of The Chicago City Council, 1863 To The Present". Routledge. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  10. ^ Pacyyga, Dominic, Chicago: A Biography, 2009, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 324 ISBN 0-226-64431-6
  11. ^ "Edward Joseph Kelly". findagrave.com. Retrieved May 3, 2018.
Political offices
Preceded by
Frank J. Corr
Mayor of Chicago
Succeeded by
Martin H. Kennelly