Arago: 14-cent LaGuardia

14-cent LaGuardia

The 14-cent stamp of the Prominent American Series features one of New York City’s most beloved and colorful mayors, Fiorello H. La Guardia (1882–1947). After working for the U.S. Consular and Immigration services, La Guardia graduated with a law degree from New York University. He continued his public service career, serving as deputy attorney general of New York in 1914. In 1916 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he developed a reputation as an outspoken reformer. La Guardia served as a decorated pilot at the Italian front in World War I, attaining the rank of major. Upon returning, he again won a seat in Congress in 1922, were he sponsored labor legislation and argued for less restrictive immigration.

In 1933, at the height of the Depression, La Guardia was elected mayor of New York City. For the next twelve years, the 5' 2" La Guardia, affectionately named “Little Flower,” dominated life in New York City. He ferreted out corruption and reformed city government. LaGuardia earned a reputation for placing the city's interests ahead of political considerations. He secured federal subsidies that enabled the city to create a transportation network envied by many large cities around the world, build parks, low income housing, bridges, schools, and hospitals. He reformed the structure of city government, creating a new City Charter. He presided over construction of New York City's first municipal airport on Flushing Bay, later appropriately named "La Guardia Airport."

Speaking weekly on the radio, La Guardia gained the respect and confidence of New Yorkers and once used that medium to read the comics to New Yorkers during a citywide newspaper strike. In 1945 La Guardia, the city’s first three-term mayor, declined to run for a fourth term. After leaving office, he hosted a weekly radio show and was appointed director general of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Commission.

The Postal Service issued the 14-cent gray brown La Guardia stamp on April 24, 1972, in New York City. The sheet stamp was printed from plates of four hundred and sold in panes of one hundred stamps with gauge 11 x 10.5 perforations. Robert Geissmann based his design for the stamp on a photograph by George Fayer. The stamp’s background is a part of the New York City skyline and features the Empire State Building. Arthur W. Dintaman and Robert G. Culin executed the engraving. This was the first time Fiorello La Guardia appeared on a U.S. postage stamp.

The 14-cent stamp paid the domestic air postcard rate and, later, the third-class single per two-ounce and foreign surface postcard rates. The stamp was also used in combination with other denominations to cover existing rates.

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