The Public Interest

The LaGuardia myth

Fred Siegel

Winter 2004

HAILED as “America’s greatest mayor” in a 1999 na- tional  survey, Fiorello LaGuardia is a figure of enduring appeal. According to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, LaGuardia gave Gotham the “most honest and I believe the most efficient municipal government of any city within my recollection.” This oft-repeated sentiment has made LaGuardia’s Depression-era mayoralty a touchstone for proponents of activist government both nationally and locally.  But following his lead would be a mistake.

Download a PDF of the full article.


to your National Affairs subscriber account.

Already a subscriber? Activate your account.


Unlimited access to intelligent essays on the nation’s affairs.

Subscribe to National Affairs.