Silver Harbor was founded in 1660, a small town on the Eastern Seabord of the United States of America. It was built by a ragged group of puritans seeking a new start, forced to leave England after the collapse of the Cromwellian Protectorate in 1659. They chose a site with a natural Harbor that made it the idea choice for a dock, which they quickly expanded in the north with a wooden shipping quay. The local Indian population were comparatively co-operative; it was as the city grew in size that friction started. The battles between the Puritan population and the Indians became the stuff of local legend, but most of the fighting was over by the 1710. The settlers, influenced by natural puritan religious zeal and recent hatred, in retaliation instigated a spate of Witch trials along the lines of those in Salem (1692); with accusations ranging from supernatural powers to human sacrifice, and many people, especially those of Indian descent, lost their lives.
Once the city had complete autonomy over the local area, it continued to grow in size. Most of the money came from shipping the cotton floated up the river from the deep South. With its successful inclusion in the material trade, other goods, such as grain and luxuries items started being shipped through Silver Harbor as well, adding to the city's prosperity. Silver Harbor began to develop and sprawl across the local landscape, and a network of canals became to develop to help the movement of these goods. Throughout the 18th century the city continued to prosper. The War of Independence (1776-1783) meant that the citizens were all 'Americans' now, much to the chargrin of many of the old established families who continued to refer to them as 'The colonies' in private, but had little other effect.
In 1820 the first wave of significant Irish immigration washed onto Ellis Island. It trickled down slowly into Silver Harbor, increasing in numbers after the appalling 1846 'Potato Famine' in Ireland. It was about this time too that Industrialisation started to hit the city as the opening of Industrial Cotton Mills in the South meant that trade flow increased dramactically. The prime placement of the city to the Old World, along with it's now extensive canal network, attracted a large number of industrialists, such as Jerimiah Markham, who began to build large factories in the more Eastern and Southern areas, most of whom were staffed, at least on the lower menial levels, by the Irish. Slum housing began to develop around them. Another, more industrial sized dock was built, with the older harbor becoming a marina for the rich.
A series of competent mayors encouraged this growth, seeing the possibilities of jobs for the population, and introduced what was at the time radical legislation; that no child under 14 was allowed to work in any of the factories, no-one was to work more than 12 hour days, and the liberal minded Caleb Force (in office 1852-8) banned the practice of slavery and transportation of slaves in Silver Harbor. It was due to his pre-emptive action that the city escaped the Civil War (1861-65) almost unscathed; it was held as a 'shining' example of what a Northern City should be. However, all was not quite as clean as it was portrayed. The influx of Irish started a stratification of the city that was to continue, with the older families segregating themselves away. The creation of the exlusive Barrington Club (est. 1867) was one such example. By contrast certain areas of the city became solely Irish, especially around the East Side.
A new city prison was built in 1869, a victorian institition seperated from the land by a causeway. 'Arkamtraz' was held as exemplar by peers of the state for it's high security and the generous morals of the prison warden, as he agreed to act as an asylum as well as a prison in 1875. The city museum was also founded around this time, and many of the older families donated historical tresures and family heirlooms for the good of the city.
This equilibrium was threatened in the 1870s by the flow of Italian immigrants as they fled terrible living conditions and the Risorgimento. They began to gather in the south in the Industrial areas, bringing their own culture and traditions with them. It led to instant hostility between the Irish and the Italians, with the former feeling the latter were trying to take their jobs and move in on their 'patch'. The Italians reacted angrily in what was supposed to be the 'Land of the Free'. In an effort to protect themselves they banded together tightly under 'Don Francesco'(entered Silver Harbor 1901), a Sicilian with strong feelings of honour who ruled over the Italians as a peacekeeper, arbiter and benevolent overlord. Ironically, the arrival of the Italians gave the Irish a level of respectability as an 'old guard', and they began to be employed in middle class jobs and have an impact on the city's politics. The First Irish Mayor, Bobby O'Shea, was elected in 1891, and it was the Irish who provided a large pool of soldiers to fight in the First World War (1914-1918) for the honour of the city, many of whom did not come back. Much of this was encouraged by the noted Irish businessman, Mr Macnamara, who was a steady influence at the centre of local Irish loyalty, and could control most of the power in the city with a wave of his hand.
The city, at the end of the 19th century, also began to develop into other areas rather than pure industry. A printing press was imported into the city, and the 'Daily Spotlight' was launched in 1890, soon taking over the waning 'Harbor Herald'. The notorious 'Silver Bulletin' followed in 1903. Cinema too became a prime Industry, and in 1910 one of the largest film studios to data was built on the hill overlooking the city. Silver Harbor began to acquire an edge of glamour; suddenly the rich and the nouve Riche were rubbing shoulders with the starlets in the clubs of the old town.
The High Times(1919-1927)
But the biggest influence in of all was the introduction of Prohibition in Jan 17th 1920. The 19th amendment banned the sale and consumption of alcohol; and was too much of an opportunity to miss. Alcohol began to enter the cities, and the informal groups began to band together into the gangs that dominated the 1920s. The Irish, under Mc Namara, began to organise the bootlegging of alcohol, quickly followed by the Italians. A spate of deaths from bad bootlegged drink led to the Irish enforcing stricter controls amongst their own, and coming down heavily on independents in a effort to ensure some sort of quality control. The older, richer famils got involved too; the most famous being Joseph White who, after a long an successful run of business left for the climes of Florida, bequeathing 'Joes' Speakeasy' to the city as a parting gift.
It was this, and the laissez-faire policies of the Republican government that encouraged the slides into protection rackets. It really was the 20's.
At the same time the age of the flappers took off, and across the city hundreds of other speak-easy's and illicit bars opened. Parties became wilder, and Ivywood was rocked by scandals of drunken orgies when the actor Clara Bow came and visited the city. The studio has been extremely successful so far, with many rising stars starting their careers on the couch of Cubby Guicole. Stories have been more widley known with the increasing rivalry of the Spotlight and the Bulletin, and the well known animosity between Michael James and JJ Hunsucker, their respective editors, was only laid to rest with the death of the former in unknown circumstances in 1926 His death came at a point when The Daily Spotlight was rocketing to fame with a series of contraversial article comabtting sleaze under the unknown author Jay Dawn, who stopped writing several months afterwards. The Stoplight has been surviving since under the editorship of Anabelle James, his daughter, the the derision of Hunsucker.
The election of mayor Hardcastle in 1924 (which was fiercely contested by the idealistic, but defeated, democrat Frank Lance) was another swing towards a more laissez-faire policy, and his close links with the business community have so far stood him in good stead, and economic growth over the last decade has been rapid. The opening of several factories by Edward Markham also helped industrial prosperity a great deal, although his right wing attitude to labour has occassionally fallen foul of the unions. The appointment of Chief O' Shaugnessey seemed to calm things down as the police were leashed, and instead a series of understandings, rather than brute force, helped to keep the peace and there have been no large police-mob shootouts as yet.
The Downward Spiral (1927-1932)
The former police leiutenant, Charteris took the mayors office on a populist ticket promising reform. He set about improving conditions in the police force and replaced the appointed Police Chief with the elected position of Police Commissionaire, still held by Patrick O'Shaugnessey. Unfortuneatly Charteris's uncompromising stance on corruption earnt him few friends and his assasination in February 1930 was not entirely unexpected, and unmourned in certain quarters.
The Great Depression hit Silver Harbor hard, unemplyment quadrupled within 3 months, cripling the economy and driving many hard working citizens to crime. It is a trend which has continued ever since. The Depression also had a profound effect on the gangs of Silver Harbor, previously rich pickings became lean and the loss of cashflow meant loyalties could no longer be bought, coupled with the escalating Irish/Italian factionalism, shattered the power of the big bosses. By 1931 no one man controlled more than 30 hoods, and gang wars were fought over buildings as opposed to neighbourhoods.
Last Updated 8/10/00, by Stuart Jenkins