The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #70
Fiorello La Guardia (1882 – 1947)
New York’s 99th mayor is popularly considered the city’s greatest. Seeing us through the Great Depression and World War II, Fiorello La Guardia was a leader of immense magnetism and authenticity, while also seen as irascible and domineering. Nicknamed “the Little Flower” for his diminutive stature, La Guardia was a Republican who defeated the notorious Tammany Hall Machine. But he was also a “New Deal” mayor who opposed bank control, enhanced public facilities, and supported federal work-relief programs. During his three terms, he unified the public transit system, created the Essex Street Market, hosted the 1939 World’s Fair, named the Avenue of the Americas, and oversaw the creation of two airports, the East River Drive, the West Side Highway, the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, and of course the Triborough Bridge. 12 years after La Guardia’s death, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick premiered Fiorello!, a fanciful Broadway musical about his life, which won the Pulitzer Prize.
- Posted in: 10 Best List