Alderman Pete McGuinness on "New Women"

Pete McGuinness is my favorite character from Greenpoint history. He was a charming larger than life figure who ruled Greenpoint as the last Tammany Hall style ward boss. The G train, The pool in McCarren Park, the Bridge to Queens are some of his many lasting achievements in the area. However, his opinions about women were less than progressive.

Pete’s views on women and their liberation were patriarchal. In the roaring twenties flappers or “New women” like Greenpoint’s Mae West were breaking traditional rules of feminine behavior and Pete blasted these “new women” in the papers. He proposed a law against females smoking in public and the Greenpoint police at first mistakenly enforced it.

He thundered in interviews against flappers, liberated women who recently in the village and dared to cut their hair short and even smoke in public. He raged their alleged immorality. He said,” “Young fellows go into our restaurants to find women folks sucking cigarettes,” “What happens? The young fellows lose all respect for the women, and the next thing you know the young fellows, vampired by these smoking women, desert their homes, their wives and children, rob their employers and even commit murder so that they can get money to lavish on these smoking women.”

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