Assistant to the Director
June 16th marks the anniversary of the most important legislation of the New Deal, the signing of the National Industrial Recovery Act by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. Come see the pen President Roosevelt used to sign the Act in the La Guardia and Wagner Archives, Rm. E-238, as the president later gave the pen as a gift to Senator Robert F. Wagner Sr. of New York, the leading proponent of New Deal legislation.
Title 1 of the Act brought industry, labor and government together to establish fair competition in industry and to establish trade union rights. Title 2 established the Public Works Administration (PWA), father of enormous public works projects throughout the country. No city reaped greater benefits from this legislation than did New York, thanks to the concerted effort of the newly-elected mayor, Fiorello H. La Guardia. In prior administrations, New York had a deserved reputation for mismanagement and lackluster interest in federally-funded projects. La Guardia, however, overcame President Roosevelt’s intense hatred of New York City Parks Commissioner and Triborough Bridge Authority leader Robert Moses to garner federal funding for new bridges, highways, parks, playgrounds, public housing, and schools throughout New York City, including the Triborough Bridge, Riverside Park, the Henry Hudson Parkway, Orchard Beach, the Sixth Avenue subway and the Holland Tunnel. The Archives’ La Guardia Collection contains correspondence between Mayor La Guardia and Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior and chief administrator of the PWA that reveal the Mayor’s micro-management of the city’s affairs. To see a telegram from La Guardia to Ickes urging federal action regarding the purchase of slum property in Brooklyn to construct public housing, click here to see PDF: