The cover art for the Inner Circle’s 1946 show, “Shamrock and Sickle” recently turned up, just in time to mark its 70th anniversary.
New York City was a very different town back then. World War II ended months earlier in August 1945. The subway cost a nickel, the harbor was one of the busiest in the world, a high-rise construction boon was starting in midtown, and a new mayor was sworn in three months before show night.
No wonder the show had an Irish flavor. The new mayor was William O’Dwyer, an immigrant who had the song “It’s a Great Day for the Irish” as his theme on inauguration day at City Hall. The sickle is a reference to the Soviet Union and the cold war that was then starting between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A.
1946 marked the first Inner Circle show in four years, following a hiatus during the war. The IC president that year was Richard F. Maher of the Associated Press. The Hotel Astor stood on Broadway between W. 45th and W. 46th Streets. It was the Inner Circle’s stage for decades before the move to the new Hilton Hotel in 1964.
O’Dwyer succeeded Fiorello LaGuardia,one of the most popular of all mayors.
But O’Dwyer’s legacy is tarnished. Although he lobbied to have the new United Nation’s permanent home in Manhattan and created the Dept. of Traffic, he also presided over the city’s first $1 billion budget and hiked the subway fare to 10-cents. In 1949, during his second term, the administration was caught up in a police corruption scandal.
O’Dwyer resigned in 1950. In what seems incomprehensible today, shortly after his resignation O’Dwyer was given a ticker-tape parade up the Canyon of Heroes on Broadway.
(The photo of 1946 straphangers was taken by Stanley Kubrick, a photog for “Look” magazine who went on to become a famous movie director.)