Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Walker, Jimmy (James John) from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

US public official; mayor of New York City 1925–32. Although he made great improvements to the city's infrastructure and was a popular figure, he was charged with corruption and forced to resign in 1932.

Born in New York, Walker attended St Francis Xavier College and was admitted to the bar in 1912. Becoming active in Democratic party politics, he served in the state assembly 1909–15 and the state senate 1915–25, where he became a protégé of Al Smith.


Summary Article: Walker, James John
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

1881–1946, American politician, b. New York City. Dapper and debonair, Jimmy Walker, having tried his hand at song writing, engaged in Democratic politics and in 1909 became a member of the state assembly. After studying law at St. Francis Xavier College and at New York Univ. law school, he was admitted (1912) to the bar. He attracted the notice of several Tammany leaders and, under the tutelage of Alfred E. Smith, was elected (1914) to the state senate. In 1921 he became minority leader of the senate and effectively pushed through liberal legislation. With Tammany backing, he defeated John F. Hylan, the incumbent, and F. D. Waterman to become mayor of New York City in 1925. In office Walker backed the adoption of an extensive transit system, unified the public hospitals, and created the department of sanitation. Immensely popular with the electorate, he was returned to office in 1928, defeating Fiorello H. LaGuardia. As a result of several frauds exposed in the municipal government in Walker's second administration, the state legislature ordered an investigation headed by Samuel Seabury. Extensive corruption was revealed, and 15 charges were leveled at the mayor. Walker hastily resigned (Sept., 1932) before the hearings were closed and went to Europe, where he lived for a number of years. Later he returned to the United States and in 1940 was appointed by Mayor LaGuardia as a municipal arbiter for the garment industry.

  • See Fowler, G. , Beau James (1949, repr. 1970);.
  • Mitgang, H. , Once upon a Time in New York (2000).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018