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At the turn of century the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan began debating plans for expanding its water supply. These debates quickly spawned corrupt dealings, which in turn produced the city’s water scandal. The city’s first genuine scandal, the water scandal marks a turning point in the city’s history. The fact that the rather ordinary bribery scheme became a scandalous event reveals the city had adopted enough of the Progressive ethos to punish corruption. The water scandal stands as the tipping point of municipal politics in Grand Rapids between Gilded Age politics rooted in personal connections and Progressive politics centered around impartial administration.
Adviser: Timothy R. Mahoney