Inauguration Day

Monday begins a new year—2018— and it is also Inauguration Day in New York City. Unlike the mid-day presidential inauguration of January 20th, New York mayors traditionally begin their terms at 12:01 a.m. on January 1st. For an incoming mayor, this often means holding a private swearing-in at midnight, followed by a public ceremony the next day. For an incumbent mayor there is no need to transfer duties, but the mayor still has a swearing-in ceremony to begin the next term. Depending on weather conditions these have been large outdoor affairs or smaller indoor ones.

We looked through the Archives and Library to provide some images of a few campaigns and ceremonies from past mayors…

Campaign banner for Jimmy Walker on Tammany Hall, 4th Avenue and 17th Street, October 28, 1929. Photo by Eugene de Salignac, Department of Bridges/Plant & Structures Collection, NYC Municipal Archives.

A remarkably youthful-appearing Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia stands before a fireplace in City Hall shortly after his inauguration for a second (of three) terms as Mayor (photograph courtesy of the World Telegram). NYC Municipal Library.

LaGuardia campaign victory poster, 1942. Mayor LaGuardia Papers, NYC Municipal Archives.

LaGuardia at his desk the day after re-election, defeating William O'Dwyer, November 5, 1941. International News Photos, Mayor LaGuardia Papers, NYC Municipal Archives.

Election night - O'Dwyer makes first public address as mayor-elect of NYC, November 6, 1945. Acme Photo, Mayor O’Dwyer Papers, NYC Municipal Archives.

Newly elected Mayor Vincent R. Impellitteri gives a Victory Handshake at his headquarters in the Hotel Abbey on November 7, 1950.  Impellitteri became Acting Mayor on September 2, 1950, upon the resignation of Mayor William O’Dwyer and won a full four-year term in a special election on November 7, 1950.  ACME News Photos, Mayor Wagner Papers, NYC Municipal Archives.

Three of the most powerful political leaders of the early 1960s were sworn-in simultaneously on January 1, 1962.  As shown in this Herald Tribune photograph, Robert F. Wagner takes the oath office for his second (of three) terms as Mayor, along with Paul Screvane who had been elected President of the City Council, and Abraham D. Beame, beginning his first term as Comptroller.  Beame would eventually become Mayor in 1974. NYC Municipal Library.

This Newsday File Photo shows the smiling Mayor John V. Lindsay with his wife Mary at his 1966 inaugural. The smile faded quickly. At 2 a.m. on January 1st, the new Mayor issued a press release announcing negotiations between the Transport Workers Union and the Transit Authority had broken down and a transit strike would commence at 5 a.m. NYC Municipal Library.

Abraham D. Beame takes the oath besides his wife, January 1, 1974. Photo by Dick De Marsico, Mayor Beame Papers, NYC Municipal Archives.

The newly inaugurated Mayor Koch certainly faced daunting crises upon his January 1, 1978 inauguration, but more immediately, his plan to use Mayor LaGuardia’s desk was thwarted when it wouldn’t fit through the door of his office. NYC Municipal Library.

Edward Koch being sworn in as Mayor in a private ceremony, January 1, 1978. Mayor Koch Papers, NYC Municipal Archives.

Mayor Dinkins swearing-in ceremony, steps of City Hall. January 1, 1990. Mayor Dinkins Papers, papers, NYC Municipal Archives.

New mayors traditionally start their terms with inspiring speeches from the steps of City Hall.  Shortly after the new Mayor Robert F. Wagner spoke to the crowd on January 1, 1954, the text of his speech was released in a Press Release:  “….We have an uphill battle—you and I—if we are to succeed in making this city of ours an even better and happier place in which to live. We must anticipate some heartbreak, occasional reverses and considerable struggle. But to me public service is not an empty meaningless phrase. It is a term which I view with full comprehension and to which I give the utmost literal interpretation. Public service is among the most noble challenges and among the great responsibilities.…

The full text of Wagner’s speech, along most other 20th century mayors, is available at the Municipal Library.