1939 April 30

Mayor LaGuardia Dedicates Plaza of Freedom at World’s Fair


At the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia dedicated the Plaza of Freedom, celebrating the Freedom of Speech, Press, Assembly, and Religion.

The event anticipated President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech, on January 6, 1941, by 20 months. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms were Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want. The Saturday Evening Post commissioned the famous illustrator Norman Rockwell to paint posters illustrating the Four Freedoms (February 20, 1943), and those images immediate became American icons.

LaGuardia’s record on civil liberties was very mixed. As a member of Congress, he was the co-author of the Norris-LaGuardia Act, which granted important First Amendment protections to workers and organized labor, on March 23, 1932. As mayor of New York City, however, he engaged in a number of serious violations of freedom of speech.

In October 2012, New York City opened Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island in the East River.

Visit the new Four Freedoms Park in New York City: http://www.fdrfourfreedomspark.org/

Learn more about LaGuardia: H. Paul Jeffers, The Napoleon of New York: Mayor Fiorello La Guardia  (2002)

Learn more: Stuart Murray, Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms (1993)

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