Fiorello H. La Guardia

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Fiorello Henry La Guardia was a politician and lawyer in the United States. He is most known for serving three terms as the Republican Mayor of New York City. He was known as ‘the Little Flower,’ a dynamic and energetic man who went down in history as one of the most outstanding mayors in the United States. Though he was a powerful and forceful leader, his ideas on various reforms were crafted with the opinions of his varied constituency in mind. He obtained money for New York City as a result of his support for Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He revitalized the city by, among other things, uniting the transit system, directing the development of affordable public housing, parks, and playgrounds, restructuring the police force, and building airports. During a period of world war and depression, he defeated the corrupt Democratic system in power. He was essential in re-establishing merit-based employment rather than job patronization. His administration appoints skilled outsiders with no ties to the political system. His efforts to provide New York with modern infrastructure raised the bar for improved urban livelihood and corruption-free machinery, cementing his reputation as one of the hardest and most successful mayors in the country.

Childhood and Adolescence

Fiorello Henry La Guardia was born in Greenwich Village, New York City, on December 11, 1882, to Achille La Guardia and Irene Coen. His father was an Italian from Cerignola who was a lapsed Catholic, and his mother was a Trieste-born Italian-Jewish woman.

He was raised as an Episcopalian and has remained such throughout his life. His middle name, ‘Enrico,’ was anglicized to ‘Henry’ throughout his boyhood.
His family relocated to Arizona, where his father was stationed as a bandmaster for the United States Army at Fort Whipple.

In Prescott, Arizona, he attended public schools and high school. His father stayed in Trieste after his discharge as a bandmaster in 1898.
He served as a clerk and assistant to the US consul general in the US consulate in Budapest from 1900 to 1903.

He worked as a consular agent at Fiume (now Rijeka, Croatia) from 1903 to 1906.
He received his diploma from the Upper West Side of New York’s ‘Dwight School.’ He was a volunteer for the ‘New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.’

He was an expert linguist who spoke Italian, Yiddish, French, German, Hungarian, and Croatian. From 1907 to 1910, he worked as an interpreter for the ‘US Bureau of Immigration’ at its Ellis Island immigration office.
In 1910, he graduated from the ‘New York University School of Law’ and was admitted to the bar.

Fiorello H. La Guardia’s Career

He was appointed Deputy Attorney General of New York in January 1915.
On November 7, 1916, he was elected to the ‘U.S. House of Representatives as the first Italian-American member of Congress.

His time in the ‘U.S. House of Representatives was brief, as he was drafted into the United States Army Air Service on August 15, 1917, during World War I. He was given the rank of major in command of one of the Ca.44 bomber units stationed on the Italian-Austrian front.
He resigned from Congress on December 31, 1919. He was chosen as the Republican candidate for the presidency of the ‘New York City Board of Aldermen,’ which he held from 1920 to 1921.

He was elected to Congress representing East Harlem in 1922 and served in the House until March 3, 1933. He fought against immigration quotas and supported labor laws such as the ‘Norris-La Guardia Act’ as a progressive reformer.

In a candidacy for mayor in 1929, he was defeated by Tammany politician James J. Walker.
He backed Ireland’s independence struggle and the anti-czarist Russian Revolution, but not Vladimir Lenin. Instead, he endorsed American influence for democracy, national independence, and the fight against autocracy. He was an outspoken supporter of internationalism and disarmament and peace conferences, as well as the ‘Inter-Parliamentary Union’ and ‘League of Nations.’

Fiorello Henry La Guardia was a vocal supporter of the rights of striking miners, minorities, poor farmers, and impoverished families. He advocated for the removal of American troops from Nicaragua, allowing more immigration, and advocating for the rights of striking miners, minorities, poor farmers, and impoverished families.

He advocated for progressive income taxes, unemployment insurance for those laid off during the Great Depression, and more government oversight of Wall Street.
Fiorello Henry La Guardia was elected as the 99th mayor of New York City on November 7, 1933, and was re-elected twice more in 1937 and 1941, serving in the office for a total of twelve years.

He was a Freemason and a music aficionado who was known for putting together professional and student orchestras on the spur of the moment. He was a member of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity. He helped found the ‘High School of Music and Arts’ (today known as the ‘Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts’) in 1936.

He successfully established the ‘New York City Board of Estimate’ in 1938 after proposing an amended City Charter.
Under his direction, the ‘Interborough Rapid Transit Company’ was purchased by New York City in 1939, allowing for a full public takeover of the subway system.

He vigorously pursued criminal and unethical activities as mayor, including arresting gangsters and armed bandits, outlawing the sale and possession of artichokes until their price remained inflated, and closing down burlesque theaters.

During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated him as the first director of the ‘Office of Civilian Defense,’ a national body tasked with combating German air raids, in 1941.
He was named director-general of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration on March 29, 1946.

His Major Projects

As mayor, he backed Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt and New Deal agencies including the PWA, CWA, and WPA, which resulted in New York receiving $1.1 billion in federal funds.
The East River Drive, Triborough Bridge, West Side Highway, LaGuardia Airport, and Brooklyn Battery are just a few of the many improvements that changed the face of New York during his term as mayor.

Personal History and Legacy

He married Thea Almerigotti, an Istria immigrant, on March 8, 1919. Fioretta Thea, born in June 1920, died of spinal meningitis in May 1921, while his wife Thea Almerigotti died of tuberculosis on November 29, 1921.

In 1929, he married Marie Fisher, his former congress secretary. Eric Henry and Jean Marie, Thea Almerigotti’s sister’s daughter, were adopted by the couple.
After suffering from pancreatic cancer, he died on September 20, 1947, in his Bronx home. He was laid to rest at the Bronx’s ‘Woodlawn Cemetery.’

Estimated Net worth

Fiorello is one of the wealthiest politicians and one of the most well-known. Fiorello La Guardia’s net worth is estimated to be $70 billion, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.

Trivia

In 1972, the ‘United States Postal Service’ published a 14-cent stamp in his honor.
Among the many places named after him are the ‘LaGuardia Airport’ in New York, the ‘LaGuardia Community College’ in New York, and the ‘LaGuardia Street in Tel Aviv, Israel.
In a 1993 poll of historians and social scientists, he came in top in the category of nation’s mayors.