Established in 1982 at LaGuardia Community College/ CUNY with a mission to collect, preserve, and make available primary materials documenting the social and political history of New York City. We hold nearly 5,000 cubic feet of archival records and 3,200 reels of microfilm with almost 100,000 photographs and 2,000,000 documents available on our website.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Letters to Mayor Lindsay: Children Respond to the 1966 New York City Transit Strike

Children from all over New York City, and around the country wrote to Mayor Lindsay during his first year in office.  The new mayor was, after all, a highly visible man, a strikingly tall and energetic figure.  Many simply asked for a picture or autograph.  But more than any other subject, children wrote to the mayor about the 12 day transit strike, the worst in the city’s history.  Many witnessed it in their daily lives.  Others saw it on television.  Some talked about it in classrooms as far away as Massachusetts.  Here is a selection of their letters.

Excerpt of Child's Letter to Mayor Lindsay - Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives
On January 1, 1966, as John V. Lindsay took the oath of office as New York City’s 103rd mayor, transit workers all over the city, led by Mike Quill, walked off the job.  Our video about the 1966 transit strike uses contemporary newsreel footage to explore the strike through the experience of adults: the mayor and commuters walking to work; long lines; and crowded highways.  Children’s letters to the mayor offer a different perspective.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Wrong Bush

One chilly day in November 2008, former mayor Ed Koch was opening his mail.  Among the letters was an invitation to a Hanukkah reception at the White House.  This was the cover of the card:
Courtesy: The White House

Notice the Christmas tree?  George W. Bush, the President who had started a tradition of separate Christmas and Hanukkah parties at the White House, had sent a picture of the wrong bush.  

We don’t know whether Koch, perhaps the most prominently Jewish mayor in American history, was offended.  We do know that a few days later, on November 28, he RSVP’d his regrets to the Bushes.  He would not be attending.  

A couple of days later he received another card from the White House:
Courtesy: The White House
The menorah on the new card wasn’t just a pretty picture.  It was an image of the menorah given by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to President Truman for his early recognition of the State of Israel in 1948.

Inside was a smaller card that read: 

Courtesy: The White House
That was a nice way of putting it.

By then, the New York Post had reported: “Let Santa Light the Menorah” and “Merry Hanukkah from the White House!”  CNN posted “First White House Chrismukkah cards accidentally sent” on their political ticker blog.  And the White House admitted to reporters that staff had failed to print separate cards for the different holiday events.

The Hanukkah Invitation Gaffe of 2008 can go down in history as one of the lesser known bloopers of the Bush Administration.  Ridicule might have been more aggressive, but holiday invitations are traditionally the domain of the First Lady.  “Mrs. Bush is apologetic,” her press secretary told reporters. “It is something that just slipped through the cracks.”  We’ve all been there.

The cards shown here are from the Edward I. Koch Collection at the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives.  You can view a further sampling of family holiday cards from our collection sent by Mayor LaGuardia, Presidents Bush and Obama, and a holiday photo of the Clintons with Borough President Claire Schulman, among others on our Flickr site.

You might also enjoy our wonderful video collection, some of which is available on our YouTube siteTo get a deeper sense of our collections come to our user-friendly website for finding aids and computerized indexes. As always, we welcome you to follow us on Twitter and FaceBook, and if you like, like us there.  

The digital editions of original documents included here are for research purposes only.  You are, of course, welcome to come to our archives and view the documents yourself.  Researchers wishing to visit the archive in person please contact Douglas Di Carlo, our Archivist in advance of your visit.