From the 1830s to the 1960s Tammany Hall was the headquarters for an organization founded in 1786 known variously as the Society of St. Tammany, the Sons of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order, and finally officially incorporated on May 12, 1789 as the Tammany Society.
The society, named after Tamanend, a Native American Lenape leader, was an efficient and corrupt Democratic Party political machine that largely controlled New York elections.
It was also largely responsible for the rise of immigrants, especially Irish immigrants, in New York politics. While the society had its beginnings in a tavern on Chatham street (now Park Row), the society built the Hall in 1830 and rented most of it out for various forms of entertainment. The building housed tableaux vivant, gymnastic exhibitions, pantomimes, Punch and Judy shows, a bar, a bazaar, a Ladies’ Cafe, and an oyster saloon.
The smaller auditorium was also home to beginnings of vaudeville. Unfortunately, the Tammany Society sold the original Tammany Hall (located at 141 E 14th Street, between 3rd and 4th Avenues) to the Consolidated Edison Company around 1927 and it was demolished to make way for the company’s new tower. The Tammany Society built a new building on 17th St. and moved there around 1929.
The society used this building as its headquarters for around 30 more years and then began to fall apart in the 1960s. The new Tammany Hall was turned over to commercial uses and now houses the New York Film Academy and the Union Square Theater.