Fiorello H. Laguardia

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Mayor Fiorello H. Laguardia reads the comics on the radio, 1945

In a slightly-belated celebration of Fiorello H. LaGuardia’s 130th birthday (December 11, 1882), I would like to remember one of the many things that made him a most memorable mayor of New York City during his 12 year tenure from 1934-1945.  Known as much for his strength and determination to stamp our corruption in New York City as his gentle kindness and compassion for New York citizens, LaGuardia is often remembered for reading the Sunday funnies on the radio.

Mayor LaGuardia had a weekly Sunday radio show on WNYC called “Talk to the People,” his own version of the FDR “Firesides Chats,” where he would discuss current events and the state of affairs.  He talked about national and international concerns, especially the war, and would also tell listeners where to get the best prices on vegetables and inform them that there would be shoe rationing.  Radio was the dominant electronic medium of the day, as television was in its infancy, and Laguardia had a large and diverse listenership. Read the rest of this entry »

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“Robert Moses Astride New York” is a musical-in-progress by Gary S. Fagin (image: Curbed)

I was recently reading about composer, Gary Fagin, who is working on a musical called “Robert Moses Astride New York.” A musical about Robert Moses?  Really?  What will they think of next? A musical about the newsboys strike of 1899?   Been there.  A musical about the Atlantic Yards?  Done that.  A musical about Fiorello LaGuardia?  Old news.

It turns out that people and events in New York City history, no matter how unromantic, no matter how un-musical they might seem, have been the subject of many a musical interpretation.  One of these shows even won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award.

“Fiorello!” is a musical about New York City mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia (1882-1947), who took on and beat down Tammany Hall. The book is by Jerome Weidman and George Abbott, with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and music by Jerry Bock. It is one of only eight musicals to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, ever, and it also won a Tony award for Best Musical, beating out “Gypsy” and sharing first place honors with “The Sound of Music” in 1959. Read the rest of this entry »

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