The Irish and Eminent Domain
Around this time of year I feel compelled to tell stories about the Irish… I will try to make it short.
A good Irish story always involves politics, the law and real estate. In 2005 the Supreme Court made a blasphemous decision regarding eminent domain. Our legal elite decided that it was OK to take property from an owner and give it to another party including private entities that could make large profits from the “taking”. The horrible decision was made following an eight year amazing court battle waged mostly in part by one woman Susette Kelo; Susette wanted to hold onto the only real thing she had…and that was her home. The court decided that Pfizer Corp. could take her property because the proposed development they had in mind included a hotel, a research center, Coast Guard museum and basic urbanization of the property that would in theory increase the tax revenue for the local jurisdiction. Read more about this court case in A Little Pink House.
So, here is my story about the Irish and eminent domain. During prohibition the Irish born Hurley brothers were running a speakeasy in Manhattan. It just so happened that John Rockefeller leased some property from Columbia University nearby. The stock market tanked and Rockefeller did his part to stimulate the economy. He created and planned the largest private development project ever on the leased property… Rockefeller Center. Covering over 22 acres John D. needed to acquire adjoining properties to complete the development. One of the desired properties was owned by the Hurley brothers and this site was home to their infamous speakeasy called Hurleys Irish Saloon .
Back in the day disturbing a local watering hole for the Irish wasn’t wise. And if you know anything about Irish history asking an Irish born man to give up his property in America was probably not a good idea. As you can summarize the Hurleys had no interest in selling their property to the Rockefellers. Actually, the Rockefellers didn’t want to pay the $250,000 price tag the Hurleys were asking. In fact, it wasn’t until 1999 that the Hurleys moved their business to another site.
To this day you can see how the Rockefellers dealt with the Hurleys. They built around Hurleys Irish Saloon. In my opinion, the Irish set precedent for a private company taking another’s for profit….. And the Rockefellers did the right thing…built around it. Oh, and the Pfizer project in New London, Ct. Is no longer… Pfizer backed out, the developer can’t get funding, and nothing has been built therefore no increased tax revenues for the locals. So, this story is for you just in case you needed another reason to support and embrace your local Irish Saloons today!!
HAPPY ST. PATRICKS DAY!
IRELAND FOREVER-Erin go bragh!