Following the triumphant victory of the Peorians for Council-Manager (PCM) slate in the 1953 municipal election, Peoria was, in many ways, cleaned up. Gambling, prostitution and gang-related violence became much less of the public face of the city. The city government took on a new, less corrupt arrangement.

Still, among many Peorians there was a sense that the “town was down,” that something had been lost from the city both economically and culturally. As the Saturday Evening Post‘s John Bartlow Martin observed, “Peorians talk about corruption the way people elsewhere talk about baseball.” The residents of Peoria’s working-class “Valley” felt disempowered under the new city-manager arrangement, and two years after the PCM candidates were swept in, they were largely swept out.

Martin’s piece for the Saturday Evening Post sorts out the winners and losers in the high tide, then ebb, of the reform movement.