La Guardia’s ‘Lucky Corner’ In East Harlem

November 4, 2010

Intersection where Fiorello LaGuardia and other politicians held rallies

Beginning in the 1920s, Congressman Fiorello LaGuardia held election-eve rallies at this intersection of Lexington Avenue and 116th Street, on East Harlem’s “main street.” His rallies drew many thousands of New Yorkers who supported his efforts as congressman and mayor to improve the quality of life for working people and ethnic minorities, and to modernize the city’s government and infrastructure. This storied intersection became La Guardia’s “lucky corner” as he acheived election victory after victory. His third term as mayor ended in 1945.

La Guardia’s political protégé Vito Marcantonio continued the Lucky Corner tradition during his years as a Congressman representing a district that included East Harlem (1934-50). A stalwart of the American Labor Party, Marcantonio worked aggresively for civil rights, Puerto Rican independence, and the success of New Deal policies. Oscar García Rivera—the first Puerto Rican elected to public office in the U.S.—also used Lucky Corner as an election-eve rallying point. As a NYS Assemblyman representing East and Central Harlem (1937-40), García Rivera advocated for child labor laws, workers’ rights, and anti-discrimination legislation.

By the 1940s, the East Harlem neighborhood was shared by Puerto Ricans and Italians. The often tense relations between these two groups were defused by Marcantonio, who was beloved as a hero in both Italian Harlem and El Barrio. Marcantonio’s biannual gatherings at the “Lucky Corner” attracted tens of thousands of supporters. Painter Ralph Fasanella commemorated the site in his 1955 work “Marcantonio for Mayor,” and, as of 2004, there are efforts underway to honor Marcantonio’s memory with public commemorations at this site and others in the neighborhood.
New York
New York (Photo credits:

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