Chicago - City of Broad Shoulders

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Hinky Dink Kenna, Alderman 1897 to 1923

Cartoons from the Chicago Tribune depicting "Bathhouse" John (left) and "Hinky Dink" Kenna (right).
Michael "Hinky Dink" Kenna (August 20, 1858–October 9, 1946) was one of the two aldermen elected in Chicago's First Ward, from 1897 to 1923.

At age 10, Kenna left school and began selling newspapers. By age 12, he had borrowed $50 from a barkeeper and purchased a newsstand at the corner of Monroe Street and Dearborn Street. He was so successful that he was able to pay back the loan within a month. According to legend, it was at this time that Kenna got his nickname from Chicago Tribune publisher Joseph Medill, because of his small stature. Even as an adult, Kenna stood just 5 foot 1 inch (156 cm) tall.
In addition to being an alderman, Kenna ran a saloonThe Workingman's Exchange, located on Clark Street. Kenna doled out meals to the indigent in exchange for votes.[3]
Kenna and his partner, fellow First Ward alderman "Bathhouse" John Coughlin, were known as the "Lords of the Levee", a district included in their ward which provided them with the support of prostitutes, pimps, tavern-owners and gamblers.
Coughlin and Kenna were also known for hosting the First Ward Ball, an annual fundraiser which brought together gangsters, safecrackers, prostitutes, politicians, businessmen, gamblers, and other types as well. The event raised more than $50,000 a year for the two men until it was closed down in 1909 by Mayor Fred Busse. By the time it was banned, the ball was so large that it had to be held in the Chicago Coliseum, the city's major convention center. Besides its notoriety in attracting many unsavory characters it often ended with the police having to curb disorderly conduct bordering on rioting.
In 1923, the number of aldermen per ward was lowered from two to one, and Kenna stepped aside to become a Ward Committeeman, leaving the alderman's position of the First Ward to his partner. Aldermen were elected by their constituents and were paid a salary while Committeeman were elected by precinct captains and were paid from the coffers of their political party. Hinky Dink remained First Ward Committeeman until his death from myocarditis and diabetes at age 89 on October 9, 1946.[1]
Although he left his heirs an estate worth over one million dollars, and an additional thirty-three thousand dollars to be used to erect a mausoleum for his remains to repose in, his heirs took all of the money and bought him an eighty-five dollar tombstone instead.

  1. Michael Kenna - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Michael "Hinky DinkKenna (August 20, 1858–October 9, 1946) was one of the two aldermen ... At age 10, Kenna left school and began selling newspapers.

  2. Hinky Dink and Bathouse John - My Al Capone Museum

    Hinky Dink " Mike Kenna was born in a frame shack at Polk and Sholto Sts. at the western edge of " Mother Conleys Patch " in 1858. " Bath House John ...
  3. Images for hinky dink kenna

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  4. ILLINOIS: Decline of Hinky Dink - TIME,9171,884522,00.html

    Michael "Hinky DinkKenna announced he did not choose to run again for First Ward Alderman. Chicago historians hailed the passing of a lusty, gusty 50-year ...

  5. Era of "Hinky Dink" and "Bathhouse John" - Encyclopedia of Chicago

    Hinky Dink” Kenna and “Bathhouse John” Coughlin created in the 1890s a First Ward political machine based on graft and protection money from the saloons, ...

  6. Chicago Alderman & Vice Lord "Hinky DinkKenna's Bars - YouTube

    Sep 28, 2011 - Uploaded by ChiTownView
    Any student of Chicago's rich history of corruption and vice should be familiar with the names Michael "Hinky ...
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  8. The South Loop Historical Society - Michael "Hinky DinkKenna

    Michael “Hinky Dink” Kenna was Alderman, and then Committeeman, of Chicago's First Ward from 1897 to 1946. The diminutive Kenna began his career as a ...

  9. "Hinky DinkKenna and "Bathhouse" John Coughlin - NBC Chicago

    Jan 19, 2012 – Numbers 3 and 4 on our list are former 1st Ward Aldermen Michael "Hinky DinkKenna and "Bathhouse" John Coughlin, the so-called "Lords of ...

  10. Robert Loerzel: A New Look at Hinky Dink's Star - Huffington Post

    Mar 5, 2013 – One of Chicago's most famous City Council members, Michael "Hinky DinkKenna, got a quite a gift from his supporters in the First Ward on...

  11. Bathhouse John and Hinky Dink Kenna's First Ward Ball! - Gapers ...

    Mar 15, 2013 – Bathhouse John and Hinky Dink Kenna's First Ward Ball! By Nicki Yowell. Want to avoid all things shamrock green this weekend and go for ...

  12. bath house john, hinky dink & chicago's history of graft and corruption

    Michael "Hinky DinkKenna and "Bathhouse" John Coughlin, Chicago politicians, ran the notorious, gangster-infested First Ward for almost four decades, ...