Fiorello H. La Guardia
   HOME

TheInfoList



Fiorello Henry LaGuardia (; born Fiorello Enrico Raeffaelo LaGuardia, ; December 11, 1882September 20, 1947) was an American attorney and politician who represented New York in the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...
and served as the 99th
Mayor of New York City The mayor of New York City, officially Mayor of the City of New York, is head of the executive branch of the Government of New York City A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a sta ...
from 1934 to 1945. Known for his irascible, energetic, and charismatic personality and diminutive stature, La Guardia is acclaimed as one of the greatest mayors in American history. La Guardia was frequently cross-endorsed by parties other than his own, including the
Democratic PartyDemocratic Party most often refers to: *Democratic Party (United States) Democratic Party and similar terms may also refer to: Active parties Africa *Botswana Democratic Party *Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea *Gabonese Democratic Party *Democ ...
, under New York's
electoral fusion Electoral fusion is an arrangement where two or more political parties on a ballot list the same candidate, pooling the votes for that candidate. It is distinct from the process of electoral alliances in that the political parties remain separat ...
laws. Before serving as mayor, La Guardia represented
Manhattan Manhattan (), known regionally as ''The City'', is the most densely populated and geographically smallest of the of . It is the urban core of the , and coextensive with New York County, one of the of the of . Manhattan serves as the city's ...

Manhattan
in
Congress Congresses are formal meetings of the representatives of different countries A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, ...

Congress
and on the
New York City Board of Aldermen The New York City Board of Aldermen was a body that was the upper house of New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With an ...
. As mayor, during the
Great Depression The Great Depression was a severe worldwide that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning . The timing of the Great Depression varied around the world; in most countries, it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s. It was the l ...
and
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved —including all of the great powers—forming two opposing s: the and the . In a total war directly involving m ...
, La Guardia unified the city's transit system; expanded construction of public housing, playgrounds, parks, and airports; reorganized the
New York Police Department The New York City Police Department (NYPD), officially the City of New York Police Department, is the primary law enforcement agency within the City of New York. Established on May 23, 1845, the NYPD is one of the oldest police departments in ...
; and implemented federal
New Deal The New Deal was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations Regulation is the management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In systems theory Systems theory is the interdisciplinar ...
programs within the city. He pursued a long series of political reforms, curbing the power of the powerful
Tammany Hall Tammany Hall, also known as the Society of St. Tammany, the Sons of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order, was a New York City political organization founded in 1786 and incorporated on May 12, 1789, as the Tammany Society. It became the main loc ...
political machine and re-establishing merit-based employment and promotion within city administration. La Guardia was also a major national political figure. His support for the
New Deal The New Deal was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations Regulation is the management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In systems theory Systems theory is the interdisciplinar ...
and relationship with President
Franklin D. Roosevelt Franklin Delano Roosevelt (, ; January 30, 1882April 12, 1945), often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American politician who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A member of the De ...

Franklin D. Roosevelt
crossed party lines, brought federal funds to New York City, and cut off patronage to La Guardia's enemies. La Guardia's WNYC radio program "Talk to the People", which aired from December 1941 until December 1945, expanded his public influence beyond the borders of the city.


Early life and career

La Guardia was born in
Greenwich Village Greenwich Village ( , , ) is a neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan Lower Manhattan, also known as Downtown Manhattan or Downtown New York, is the southernmost part of Manhattan Manhattan (), known regionally as the City and ...

Greenwich Village
,
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from , or NYC for short, is the in the United States. With a 2020 population of 8,804,190 distributed over , New York City is also the major city in the United States. Located at the s ...

New York City
, on December 12, 1882. His father, Achille La Guardia, was a
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . As the wo ...

Catholic
native of
Cerignola Cerignola (; nap, label= Cerignolano, Ceregnòule ) is a town and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a basic Administrative division, constituent entity of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function Th ...
, Italy. "His father was an Italian immigrant to the United States and a non-practicing Catholic." His mother, Irene Luzzatto Coen, was a
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO; ) is an international standard are technical standards developed by international organizations (intergovernmental organizations), suc ...

Jewish
native of
Trieste Trieste ( , ; sl, Trst ; german: Triest ) is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy. It is the capital city, and largest city, of the Regions of Italy#Autonomous regions with special statute, autonomous region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, one of t ...

Trieste
, then part of the
Austro-Hungarian Empire Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exer ...
. His maternal grandmother Fiorina (Luzzatto) Coen was a
LuzzattoLuzzatto (or Luzzato) is an Italian surname. According to a tradition communicated by S. D. Luzzatto, the family descends from a German Jew who immigrated into Italy from the province of Lusatia, and who was named after his native place.
, a member of the prestigious Italian-Jewish family of scholars, kabbalists, and poets and had among her ancestors the famous rabbi
Samuel David Luzzatto Samuel David Luzzatto (; he, שמואל דוד לוצאטו) was an Italian Jewish scholar, poet, and a member of the Wissenschaft des Judentums movement. He is also known by his Hebrew acronym An acronym is a word or name formed from th ...
. La Guardia's parents met and married in Trieste. Fiorello was raised an
Episcopalian Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation. Adherents of Anglicanism are called ''Anglicans''; th ...
and practiced that religion all his life. His middle name "Enrico" was eventually anglicized to "Henry" . He moved to
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ' ...

Arizona
in 1890 with his family, where his father had a
bandmaster A bandmaster is the leader and conductor Conductor or conduction may refer to: Music * Conductor (music), a person who leads a musical ensemble like, for example, an orchestra. * Conductor (album), ''Conductor'' (album), an album by indie ...
position at Fort Whipple in the
U.S. Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of the Earth that is not permanently covered by water. The vast majority of human activity throughout history has occurred in land areas that support agriculture ...
. La Guardia attended public schools and high school in
Prescott, Arizona Prescott ( ) is a city in Yavapai County, Arizona, Yavapai County, Arizona, United States. According to the 2010 Census, the population of the city is 39,843. The city is the county seat of Yavapai County. In 1864, Prescott was designated as the ...

Prescott, Arizona
. from the
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress The ''Biographical Directory of the United States Congress'' is a biographical dictionary A biographical dictionary is a type of encyclopedic dictionary limited to biographical information. Many attempt to cover the major personalities of a coun ...
After his father was discharged from his bandmaster position in 1898, Fiorello lived in
Trieste Trieste ( , ; sl, Trst ; german: Triest ) is a city and seaport in northeastern Italy. It is the capital city, and largest city, of the Regions of Italy#Autonomous regions with special statute, autonomous region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, one of t ...

Trieste
. He graduated from the
Dwight School Dwight School is a for-profit independent college preparatory school located on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Dwight offers the International Baccalaureate curriculum to students ages two through grade twelve. History Founded in 1872 by Julius ...
, a private school on the Upper West Side of New York City. La Guardia joined the
State Department The United States Department of State (DOS), or State Department, is an executive department The United States federal executive departments are the principal units of the Federal government of the United States, executive branch of the feder ...

State Department
in 1901 and served in U.S. consulates in
Budapest Budapest (, ) is the capital and the of , and the in the by population within city limits. The city has an estimated population of 1,752,286 over a land area of about . Budapest is both a and , and forms the centre of the , which has an ar ...

Budapest
, Trieste, and
Fiume Rijeka ( , , ; hu, Fiume, it, Fiume ; local Chakavian Chakavian or Čakavian (, , , sh-Latn, čakavski proper name: or own name: ''čokovski, čakavski, čekavski'') is a South Slavic regiolect or language A language is a st ...

Fiume
. In 1906, he returned to the United States to continue his education at
New York University New York University (NYU) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nea ...
. While studying at NYU from 1907 to 1910, he worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Bureau of Immigration at the
Ellis Island Ellis Island is a federal government of the United States, federally-owned island in New York Harbor that was the busiest immigrant inspection station in the United States. From 1892 to 1954, nearly 12 million immigration to the United States, ...

Ellis Island
immigration station. La Guardia was fluent in
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
,
Yiddish Yiddish (, or , ''yidish'' or ''idish'', , ; , ''Yidish-Taytsh'', ) is a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews Ashkenazi Jews ( are a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciatio ...

Yiddish
, and
Croatian Croatian may refer to: *Croatia *Croatian cuisine *Croatian language *Croatian name *Croats, people from Croatia, or of Croatian descent *Citizens of Croatia, see demographics of Croatia See also

* Croatia (disambiguation) * Serbo-Croatian (di ...
. He graduated from
New York University School of Law New York University School of Law (NYU Law) is the professional graduate law school A law school (also known as a law centre or college of law) is an institution specializing in legal education, usually involved as part of a process for be ...
in 1910, was admitted to the bar the same year, and began a law practice in New York City.


Early political career


Election to Congress and World War I

In 1914, La Guardia ran for U.S. Representative for , which stretched across the island of
Manhattan Manhattan (), known regionally as ''The City'', is the most densely populated and geographically smallest of the of . It is the urban core of the , and coextensive with New York County, one of the of the of . Manhattan serves as the city's ...

Manhattan
between 3rd and 14th Streets, encompassing
Greenwich Village Greenwich Village ( , , ) is a neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan Lower Manhattan, also known as Downtown Manhattan or Downtown New York, is the southernmost part of Manhattan Manhattan (), known regionally as the City and ...

Greenwich Village
. La Guardia was defeated by . La Guardia became Deputy
Attorney General of New York The Attorney General of New York is the chief legal officer of the U.S. state of New York (state), New York and head of the Department of Law of the government of New York (state), state government. The office has been in existence in some form si ...
in January 1915. In 1916, he challenged Farley again, this time successfully. La Guardia took office on March 4, 1917, but was soon commissioned into the
United States Army Air Service The United States Army Air Service (USAAS)Craven and Cate Vol. 1, p. 9 (also known as the ''"Air Service"'', ''"U.S. Air Service"'' and before its legislative establishment in 1920, the ''"Air Service, United States Army"'') was the aerial warfa ...
amid the American entry into
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
. He rose to the rank of major in command of a unit of Caproni Ca.44 bombers on the Italian-Austrian front. He was re-elected to Congress in 1918.


President of the Board of Aldermen


1919 special election

In 1919,
New York City Board of Aldermen The New York City Board of Aldermen was a body that was the upper house of New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With an ...
President
Al Smith Alfred Emanuel Smith (December 30, 1873 – October 4, 1944) was an American politician who served four terms as Governor of New York The governor of New York is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public ...
resigned to become Governor of New York, triggering a special election scheduled for the fall. La Guardia narrowly won the Republican nomination over William M. Bennett, who had been the party nominee for Mayor in 1917. La Guardia's opponent in the November special election was Robert L. Moran, a
Tammany Hall Tammany Hall, also known as the Society of St. Tammany, the Sons of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order, was a New York City political organization founded in 1786 and incorporated on May 12, 1789, as the Tammany Society. It became the main loc ...
-aligned Democratic alderman from the Bronx, who had filled the seat since Smith's resignation. La Guardia benefited from the presence of Michael "Dynamite Mike" Kelly, commander in the Irish heritage 69th New York Infantry Regiment, in the race.
Tammany Hall Tammany Hall, also known as the Society of St. Tammany, the Sons of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order, was a New York City political organization founded in 1786 and incorporated on May 12, 1789, as the Tammany Society. It became the main loc ...
tried to persuade Kelly to withdraw his candidacy and support Moran. When he refused, Tammany went to the New York Supreme Court and successfully sued to keep Kelly's name off the ballot."Major Kelly Killed by His Own Pistol"
(fee). ''The New York Times''. July 23, 1930.
When Election Day arrived, over 3,500 of Kelly's supporters wrote Kelly's name on the ballot. Another 129,000 votes were cast for Socialist James O'Neal. La Guardia won narrowly by 1,363 votes. He resigned from Congress on December 31, 1919, to take office as president the next day.


1921 mayoral election

In 1921, La Guardia made his first bid for Mayor of New York City, but was defeated in the Republican primary by Manhattan Borough President Henry H. Curran. Curran lost the general election to Mayor John Hylan in a landslide.


Return to Congress from Harlem

Running as a Republican, La Guardia won a seat in Congress from the Italian stronghold of East Harlem in 1922 and served in the House until March 3, 1933. He gained a reputation as a fiery and devoted reformer. La Guardia sponsored labor legislation and railed against immigration quotas. His major legislation was the Norris–La Guardia Act, cosponsored with Nebraska senator George W. Norris, George Norris in 1932. It circumvented Supreme Court limitations on the activities of labor unions, especially as those limitations were imposed between the enactment of the Clayton Antitrust Act in 1914 and the end of the 1920s. Based on the theory that the lower courts are creations not of the Constitution but of Congress, and that Congress therefore has wide power in defining and restricting their jurisdiction, the act forbids issuance of injunctions to sustain anti-union contracts of employment, to prevent ceasing or refusing to perform any work or remain in any relation of employment, or to restrain acts generally constituting component parts of strikes, boycotts, and picketing. It also said courts could no longer enforce yellow-dog contracts, which are labor contracts prohibiting a worker from joining a union. As a Republican, La Guardia had to support Warren G. Harding, Harding in 1920; he had to be silent in the 1928 United States presidential election, 1928 campaign although he favored
Al Smith Alfred Emanuel Smith (December 30, 1873 – October 4, 1944) was an American politician who served four terms as Governor of New York The governor of New York is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public ...
, a Democrat.


1929 mayoral election

In 1929, La Guardia ran for Mayor once again. This time, he received the Republican nomination, once again defeating William Bennett. However, he lost the general election to incumbent Jimmy Walker in a landslide.


Mayor of New York


1933 mayoral election

Mayor Jimmy Walker and his Irish-run
Tammany Hall Tammany Hall, also known as the Society of St. Tammany, the Sons of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order, was a New York City political organization founded in 1786 and incorporated on May 12, 1789, as the Tammany Society. It became the main loc ...
were forced out of office by scandal and La Guardia was determined to replace him. La Guardia ran on the Fusion Party platform, which was supported by Republicans, reform-minded Democrats, and independents. La Guardia had enormous determination, high visibility, the support of reformer Samuel Seabury (judge), Samuel Seabury and a divisive primary contest. He also represented previously underrepresented communities, appealed to a wide range of cultural backgrounds with his lineage. He secured the nominations and expected an easy win against incumbent Mayor John P. O'Brien. However, Joseph V. McKee entered the race as the nominee of the new "Recovery Party" at the last minute. McKee was a formidable opponent, sponsored by Bronx Democratic boss Edward J. Flynn. La Guardia promised a more honest government, championing for greater efficiency and inclusiveness. La Guardia's win was based on a complex coalition of Republicans (mostly middle class German Americans in the boroughs outside Manhattan), a minority of reform-minded Democrats, Socialists, a large proportion of middle-class Jews, and the great majority of Italians, whose votes had previously been overwhelmingly loyal Tammany.


Agenda

La Guardia came to office in January 1934 with five main goals: * Restore the financial health and break free from the bankers' control * Expand the federally funded work-relief program for the unemployed * End corruption in government and racketeering in key sectors of the economy * Replace patronage with a merit-based civil service, with high prestige * Modernize the infrastructure, especially transportation and parks He achieved most of the first four goals in his first hundred days, as FDR gave him 20% of the entire national Civil Works Administration, CWA budget for work relief. La Guardia then collaborated closely with Robert Moses, with support from the governor, Democrat Herbert H. Lehman, Herbert Lehman, to upgrade the decaying infrastructure. The city was favored by the
New Deal The New Deal was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations Regulation is the management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In systems theory Systems theory is the interdisciplinar ...
in terms of funding for public works projects. La Guardia's modernization efforts were publicized in the 1936 book ''New York Advancing: A Scientific Approach to Municipal Government,'' edited by Rebecca B. Rankin.


African-American politics

In 1935 a riot took place in Harlem. Termed the Harlem riot of 1935, it has been described as the first "modern" race riot, because it was committed primarily against property rather than persons. During the riots, La Guardia and Hubert Thomas Delany, Hubert Delany walked through the streets in an effort to calm the situation. After the riots, La Guardia convened the Mayor's Commission on Conditions of Harlem to determine the causes of the riot and a detailed report was prepared. The report identified "injustices of discrimination in employment, the aggressions of the police, and the racial segregation" as conditions which led to the outbreak of rioting. However, the Mayor shelved the committee's report, and did not make it public. The report would be unknown, except that a black New York newspaper, the ''Amsterdam News'', subsequently published it in serial form.


Ethnic politics

La Guardia governed in an uneasy alliance with New York's Jews and liberal White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, WASPs, together with ethnic Italians and Germans. Not an orthodox Republican, he also ran as the nominee of the American Labor Party, a union-dominated anti-Tammany Hall, Tammany left wing group that supported Franklin D. Roosevelt for president beginning in 1936. La Guardia supported Roosevelt, chairing the Committee of Independent Voters for Roosevelt and his running mate, Henry A. Wallace, with Senator George Norris during the 1940 U.S. presidential election, 1940 presidential election. La Guardia was the city's first Italian-American mayor, but was not a typical Italian New Yorker. He was a Republican Episcopal Church in the United States of America, Episcopalian who had grown up in Arizona and had a Triestine Jewish mother and a lapsed Catholic father. He spoke several languages; when working at Ellis Island, he was certified as an interpreter for Italian, German, Yiddish, and Croatian. It served him well during a contentious congressional campaign in 1922. When Henry Frank, a Jewish opponent, accused him of anti-Semitism, La Guardia rejected the suggestion that he publicly disclose that his mother was Jewish as "self-serving". Instead, La Guardia dictated an open letter in Yiddish that was also printed in Yiddish. In it, he challenged Frank to publicly and openly debate the issues of the campaign entirely in the Yiddish language. Frank, although he was Jewish, could not speak the language and was forced to decline—and lost the election. La Guardia's 1933 campaign coincided with the rise of racial and religious hostilities in Germany, and he supported a more anti-Nazi response while in office. He publicly supported groups that engaged in boycotts of German goods and spoke alongside Rabbi Stephen Samuel Wise, Stephen S. Wise, leader of the American Jewish Congress. In 1935, La Guardia caused an international stir when he denied a masseur license to a German immigrant, stating that Germany had violated a treaty guaranteeing equal treatment of American professionals by discriminating against American Jews. Despite threats from Germany (including a bomb threat against New York City's German Consulate), La Guardia continued to use his position as mayor to denounce Nazism. During his reelection campaign in 1937, speaking before the Women's Division of the American Jewish Congress, he called for the creation of a special pavilion at the upcoming 1939 New York World's Fair, New York World's Fair, "a chamber of horrors" for "that brown-shirted fanatic," referring to Hitler. He also led anti-Nazi rallies and promoted legislation to facilitate the U.S. rescue of the Jewish refugees. He also appointed more racially and religiously diverse judges to various New York courts, which was one of his most powerful weapons against Nazi prejudice. These appointments included Rosalie Loew Whitney, Herbert O'Brien, Jane Bolin, and Hubert Thomas Delany.


Crime

La Guardia criticized the gangsters who brought a negative stereotype and shame to the Italian American, Italian community. His first action as mayor was to order the chief of police to arrest mob boss Lucky Luciano on whatever charges could be found. La Guardia then went after the gangsters with a vengeance, stating in a radio address to the people of New York in his distinct voice, "Let's drive the bums out of town." In 1934 he went on a search-and-destroy mission looking for mob boss Frank Costello's slot machines, rounding up thousands of the "one armed bandits," swinging a sledgehammer and dumping them off a barge into the water for the newspapers and media. In 1935 La Guardia appeared at the Bronx Terminal Market to institute a citywide ban on the sale, display, and possession of artichokes, whose prices were inflated by mobsters. When prices went down, the ban was lifted. In 1936, La Guardia had special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey, a future Republican presidential candidate, single out Lucky Luciano for prosecution. Dewey led a successful investigation into Luciano's lucrative prostitution operation, eventually sending Luciano to jail with a 30–50 year sentence. The case was made into the 1937 movie ''Marked Woman'', starring Bette Davis. La Guardia proved successful in shutting down the burlesque theaters, whose shows offended his sensibilities.


Public works

La Guardia's admirers credit him, among other things, with restoring the economy of New York City during and after the Great Depression in the United States, Great Depression. He is given credit for many massive public works programs administered by his powerful Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, which employed thousands of voters. The mayor's relentless lobbying for federal funds allowed New York to develop its economic infrastructure. To obtain large-scale federal money the mayor became a close ally of Roosevelt and New Deal agencies such as the Civil Works Administration, CWA, Public Works Administration, PWA, and Works Progress Administration, WPA, which poured $1.1 billion into the city from 1934 to 1939. In turn he gave FDR a showcase for
New Deal The New Deal was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations Regulation is the management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In systems theory Systems theory is the interdisciplinar ...
achievement, helped defeat FDR's political enemies in Tammany Hall (the Democratic party machine in Manhattan). He and Moses built highways, bridges and tunnels, transforming the physical landscape of New York City. The West Side Highway, East River Drive, Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Triborough Bridge, and two airports (LaGuardia Airport, and, later, JFK Airport, Idlewild, now JFK Airport) were built during his mayoralty. In 1943, La Guardia saved the Mecca Temple on 55th Street from demolition. Together with New York City Council President Newbold Morris, La Guardia converted the building to the New York City Center of Music and Dance. On December 11, 1943, City Center opened its doors with a concert from the New York Philharmonic—La Guardia even conducted a rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner."


1939

1939 was a busy year, as he opened the 1939 New York World's Fair at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Queens, opened New York Municipal Airport No. 2 in Queens (later renamed Fiorello H. La Guardia Field), and had the city buy out the Interborough Rapid Transit Company and the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation, thus completing the History of the New York City Subway#Unification, public takeover of the New York City Subway system. The U.S. arrival of Georg von Trapp, Georg and Maria Von Trapp and their children from Austria that fall at
Ellis Island Ellis Island is a federal government of the United States, federally-owned island in New York Harbor that was the busiest immigrant inspection station in the United States. From 1892 to 1954, nearly 12 million immigration to the United States, ...

Ellis Island
who would eventually become the Trapp Family Singers was another significant decade-ending event that year in La Guardia's mayoralty.


Reform

Responding to popular disdain for the sometimes corrupt City Council, La Guardia successfully proposed a reformed 1938 City Charter that created a powerful new New York City Board of Estimate, similar to a corporate board of directors. La Guardia was also a supporter of Ives-Quinn, "a law that would ban discrimination in employment on the bases of 'race, creed, color or national origin' and task a new agency, the New York State Commission Against Discrimination (SCAD), with education and enforcement." The bill passed in 1945, making New York the first state in the country to create an agency tasked with handling employment discrimination complaints.


World War II

In 1941 during the run-up to American involvement in World War II, President Roosevelt appointed La Guardia first director of the new Office of Civilian Defense (OCD). Roosevelt was an admirer of La Guardia; after meeting Winston Churchill for the first time he described him as "an English Mayor La Guardia". The OCD was the national agency responsible for preparing for blackouts, air raid wardens, sirens, and shelters in case of German Airstrike, air raids. The goal was to psychologically mobilize many thousands of middle class volunteers to make them feel part of the war effort. At the urging of aviation advocate Gill Robb Wilson, La Guardia, in his capacity as Director of the OCD, created the Civil Air Patrol with s:Administrative Order 9, Administrative Order 9, signed by him on December 1, 1941, and published December 8, 1941. La Guardia remained Mayor of New York, shuttling back and forth with three days in Washington and four in the city in an effort to do justice to two herculean jobs. On top of this, he still performed other gestures, such as arranging police protection with his personal assurances for local artists Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, when they were threatened by Nazi supporters for their new patriotic comic book superhero, Captain America. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, his role was turned over to a full-time director of OCD, James M. Landis. La Guardia's popularity slipped away and he ran so poorly in straw polls in 1945 that he did not run for a fourth term. Unemployment ended, and the city was a gateway for military supplies and soldiers sent to Europe, with the Brooklyn Navy Yard providing many of the warships and the garment trade providing uniforms. The city's great financiers, however, were less important in decision making than the policy makers in Washington, and very high wartime taxes were not offset by heavy war spending. New York was not a center of heavy industry and did not see a wartime boom, as defense plants were built elsewhere. FDR refused to make La Guardia a general and was unable to provide fresh money for the city. By 1944 the city was short of funds to pay for La Guardia's new programs. In July 1945, when the city's newspapers were closed by a strike, La Guardia famously read the daily strip, comics on the radio.


Political views

As a Congressman, La Guardia was a tireless and vocal champion of Progressive Era, progressive causes, including relaxed restriction on immigration, removal of United States occupation of Nicaragua, U.S. troops from Nicaragua to speaking up for the rights and livelihoods of striking miners, impoverished farmers, oppressed minorities, and struggling families. He supported Progressive tax, progressive income taxes, greater government oversight of Wall Street, and national employment insurance for workers idled by the Great Depression. In domestic policies he tended toward socialism and wanted to nationalization, nationalize and regulate; however he was never close to the Socialist Party of the USA, Socialist Party and never bothered to read Marx, Karl Marx.


Foreign policy

Never an isolationism, isolationist, he supported using American influence abroad on behalf of democracy or for national independence or against autocracy. Thus he supported the Irish independence movement and the anti-czarist Russian Revolution of 1917, but did not approve of Vladimir Lenin. Unlike most progressive colleagues, such as Norris, La Guardia consistently backed Internationalism (politics), internationalism, speaking in favor of the League of Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union as well as peace and disarmament conferences.


Prohibition

As Congressman, La Guardia was one of the first Republicans to voice his opinion against Prohibition in the United States, prohibition, urging that the Dry cause "would prove disastrous in the long run". This was breaking a taboo, given the fact that both parties "avoided taking a stand on prohibition issues" at the time.


Personal life

La Guardia was a Scottish Rite Freemasonry, Freemason and was a member of Garibaldi Lodge #542 in New York City.


Family

La Guardia married twice. His first wife was Thea Almerigotti, an Istrian immigrant, whom he married on March 8, 1919. In June 1920, they had a daughter, Fioretta Thea La Guardia, who died May 9, 1921, of spinal meningitis. Thea died of tuberculosis on November 29, 1921, at the age of 26. In 1929, La Guardia remarried to Marie Fisher (1895–1984) who had been his secretary while in Congress. They adopted two children: * Eric Henry (born 1930), a Hobart College, Geneva, Hobart College graduate who became a professor at the University of Washington, * Jean Marie (1928–1962), La Guardia's niece from his first marriage, the biological daughter of Thea's sister, a Barnard College graduate who later became an editor of Mademoiselle (magazine), ''Mademoiselle''.


Nazi detention of sister and brother-in-law

La Guardia's sister, the writer Gemma La Guardia Gluck and brother-in-law, Herman Gluck were living in Hungary and were arrested by the Gestapo on June 7, 1944, when the Nazis took control of
Budapest Budapest (, ) is the capital and the of , and the in the by population within city limits. The city has an estimated population of 1,752,286 over a land area of about . Budapest is both a and , and forms the centre of the , which has an ar ...

Budapest
. Adolf Eichmann and Heinrich Himmler knew that Gemma was La Guardia's sister and ordered her to be held as a political prisoner. She and Herman were deported to Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp, Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. Gemma did not learn until her release that Herman had died at Mauthausen. Gemma was transferred from Mauthausen to the notorious women's Ravensbrück concentration camp, concentration camp at Ravensbrück, fifty miles from Berlin, Germany, Berlin, where—unbeknownst to Gemma at the time—her daughter Yolanda (whose husband also died in the camps) and baby grandson were also held for a year in a separate barracks. Gemma Gluck, who was held in Block II of the camp and assigned prisoner #44139, was one of the few survivors of Ravensbrück and wrote about her time there. The Germans abandoned Gluck, her daughter, and her grandson for a possible hostage exchange in April 1945 as the Russians advanced on Berlin. After the liberation of the camps, Gemma later wrote, the Soviets were "Rape during the occupation of Germany, violating girls and women of all ages," and the three struggled as displaced persons in postwar Berlin, because they did not speak German language, German and had no identity papers, money, or means of documenting where they had been. Gemma finally managed to get word to the Americans, who contacted Fiorello, who was then director of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and had been unable to locate his sister and brother-in-law since their disappearance. He worked to get them on the immigration lists, but asserted in a letter, included in the appendix of Gemma's memoir, that her "case was the same as that of hundreds of thousands of displaced people" and "no exceptions can be made." It took two years for her to be cleared and sent to the United States. She returned to New York in May 1947, where she was reunited with her brother only four months before his death. As he had made no provision for her, she lived the remainder of her life in very reduced circumstances in a public housing project in Queens until her death in 1962. Gluck is one of the few American-born women interned by the Nazis, along with Virginia d'Albert-Lake.


Death and legacy

La Guardia was the director general for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in 1946. A man of short stature, La Guardia's height is sometimes given as . According to an article in ''The New York Times'', however, his actual height was . He died of pancreatic cancer in his home at 5020 Goodridge Avenue, in Riverdale, Bronx, on September 20, 1947, aged 64. La Guardia is interred at Woodlawn Cemetery (Bronx, New York), Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.


Legacy

La Guardia was ranked first among the nation's mayors in a 1993 poll of historians and social scientists. According to biographer Mason B. Williams, his close collaboration with Roosevelt's New Deal proved a striking success in linking national money and local needs. La Guardia enabled the political recognition of new groups that had been largely excluded from the political system, such as Jews and Italians. His administration (in cooperation with Robert Moses) gave New York its modern infrastructure. His far-sighted goals raised ambitions for new levels of urban possibility. According to Thomas Kessner, trends since his tenure mean that "people would be afraid of allowing anybody to take that kind of power".


Namesakes

In 1972, the United States Postal Service honored La Guardia with a 14-cent postage stamp. New York's LaGuardia Airport, LaGuardia Community College, and other parks and buildings around New York City are named for him. A strong supporter of Zionism, LaGuardia Street and LaGuardia interchange both in Tel Aviv, Israel, were named in his honor. A street in Rijeka, Croatia, is named after Fiorello La Guardia. La Guardia worked in Rijeka as a U.S. Consular Agent from 1903 to 1906, when the city was known as Fiume and was under Hungarian administration. It was during this time that Rijeka's port played a vital role in connecting the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the United States, featuring direct passenger service between Rijeka and New York. Known for his love of music, La Guardia was noted for spontaneously conducting professional and student orchestras and was instrumental in the creation of the High School of Music & Art in 1936, now renamed the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.Steigman, Benjamin: ''Accent on TalentNew York's High School of Music & Art'' Wayne State University Press, 1984


In popular culture

*La Guardia was the subject of the hit 1959 Broadway musical ''Fiorello!'' The original production of ''Fiorello!'' ran for two years and won 3 Tony Awards, including Tony Award for Best Musical, Best Musical and for Tom Bosley's portrayal of La Guardia, as well as a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1960. *Actor Tony Lo Bianco has portrayed La Guardia in several one-man plays, beginning with ''Hizzoner!'' in 1984. It debuted on Broadway in 1989, and Lo Bianco has since portrayed La Guardia in several off-Broadway versions, including ''LaGuardia'' (2008) and ''The Little Flower'' (2012–15). *In ''Ghostbusters II'', La Guardia's ghost talks to New York Mayor Lenny Clotch (David Margulies). *In the alternate history drama ''The Plot Against America (miniseries), The Plot Against America'' (2020), La Guardia is part of the opposition against the fascists in America. *In the 2021 film ''In the Heights (film), In the Heights'' the grandmother refers to dancing with La Guardia during the song "Paciencia Y Fe" which recounts her early life. The “Tammany Hall” off-Broadway show in NYC depicts La Guardia’s 1929 mayoral run against Jimmy Walker.


See also

* Statue of Fiorello H. La Guardia, Manhattan * La Guardia and Wagner Archives * La Guardia Commission, a study on marijuana in U.S. society * List of mayors of New York City * New York City mayoral elections#1929 to 1973, New York City mayoral elections for votes in 1929, 1933, 1937 and 1941. * Timeline of New York City#1900s–1940s, Timeline of New York City, 1930s–1940s
Mayor LaGuardia "Talk to the people" series on WNYC

Fiorello LaGuardia (The Compassion of New York’s Famous Mayor)


Publications

* La Guardia, Fiorello H. (1948). ''The Making of an Insurgent: An Autobiography''. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott.


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * La Guardia Gluck, Gemma. (1961). ''Fiorello's Sister: Gemma La Guardia Gluck's Story''. Reissued in 2007 with new material, edited by Rochelle Saidel. Syracuse University Press. . * * * *


Further reading

* Brodsky, Alyn. (2003). ''The Great Mayor: Fiorello La Guardia and the Making of the City of New York.'' New York: Truman Talley Books. * "Civil Rights in New York City, 1941–1943," ''The Journal of Negro History,'' Vol. 62, No. 2 (Apr. 1977), pp. 160–17
in JSTOR
* * Elliott, Lawrence. (1983). ''Little Flower: The Life and Times of Fiorello La Guardia''. New York: William Morrow. . * Garrett, Charles. (1961). ''The La Guardia Years: Machine and Reform Politics in New York City''. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. * Richard Goldstein (writer born 1942), Goldstein, Richard. ''Helluva Town: The Story of New York City During World War II'' (2010
Online review
* * August Heckscher II, Heckscher II, August. (1978). ''When La Guardia Was Mayor: New York's Legendary Years''. New York: W.W. Norton. . * Jeffers, H. Paul. (2002). ''The Napoleon of New York: Mayor Fiorello La Guardia''. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
online edition
* Kaufman, Herbert. "Fiorello H. La Guardia, Political Maverick" ''Political Science Quarterly'' 1990 105(1): 113–122.
in Jstor
* Mann, Arthur H. (1959). ''La Guardia: A Fighter Against His Times 1882–1933''. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott. * Williams, Mason B. (2013). ''City of Ambition: FDR, La Guardia, and the Making of Modern New York''. New York: W.W. Norton. .


External links



* [http://www.laguardiawagnerarchive.lagcc.cuny.edu/COLLECTIONS.aspx?ViwType=1&ColID=1 La Guardia and Wagner Archives/Fiorello H. La Guardia Collection] *
oral interviews from the La Guardia and Wagner Archives/Fiorello H. La Guardia Oral History database


* [https://www.flickr.com/photos/puzzlemaster/5429338693/in/photostream 1919 passport photo of Fiorello La Guardia]
WNYC Archives blogs featuring Mayor La Guardia

Fiorello LaGuardia (The Compassion of New York’s Famous Mayor)
* {{DEFAULTSORT:La Guardia, Fiorello H. 1882 births 1947 deaths 20th-century American politicians American Episcopalians United States Army personnel of World War I American people in the Venona papers American politicians of Italian descent American people of Jewish descent American social democrats Burials at Woodlawn Cemetery (Bronx, New York) Deaths from cancer in New York (state) Deaths from pancreatic cancer Mayors of New York City Members of the United States House of Representatives from New York (state) Military personnel from New York City New York (state) Republicans New York University School of Law alumni Peabody Award winners People from Greenwich Village People from East Harlem People from Riverdale, Bronx Politicians from Prescott, Arizona United States Army officers American Labor Party members of the United States House of Representatives Republican Party members of the United States House of Representatives Presidents of the United States Conference of Mayors