This paper is a biography of Fiorello H. La Guardia tracing his life from his birth in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan through his childhood on U.S. Army bases throughout America’s West. Shortly after his army bandmaster father became disabled at the time of the Spanish American War, the La Guardia family resettled in Europe. As a teenager, Fiorello learned multiple languages while serving as a consular agent working for the American government in various parts of southern Europe. Returning to America to study law at New York University, the Little Flower was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1910. Volunteering his legal services to the immigrant poor, the future mayor also helped form the nascent International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union. Elected to the U.S. Congress, La Guardia championed workers’ rights and social justice. He co-sponsored the Norris-La Guardia Act that greatly assisted workers’ refusal to sign “yellow dog contracts.” Supported by a coalition of good government and reform-minded types, La Guardia was elected Mayor of New York City in November 1933. During his 12-year tenure as “Hizzoner, the Mayor,” La Guardia effectively dealt with large-scale government mismanagement and corruption as well as stemming the deleterious effects of organized crime in America’s largest city. He enabled the building of hundreds of parks, playgrounds, bridges, tunnels, and highways throughout Greater New York. After leaving the mayoralty on December 31, 1945, the Little Flower served as Director of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency. He is beloved in the Big Apple and considered by many urban scholars as the greatest mayor in American history.
|Keywords:||Urban History, Social Justice, New York City, Mayoralty, Humanitarian|
Distinguished Service Professor/Faculty Senator, Business Management Department, School of Business, Farmingdale State College of the State University of New York, Farmingdale, NY, USA
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