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New York Today: New York Today: The ‘Boy Mayor’ of New York

New York Today

New York Today: The ‘Boy Mayor’ of New York

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Mayor Mitchell delivering an address at New York’s Independence Day celebration at City Hall Park in 1914.CreditInternational News Service

Good morning on this sweaty Wednesday.

This is the story of a young progressive politician who was born in the Bronx, and who fought against a well-established political machine to become one of the youngest politicians in our city’s history.

No, we’re not talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated Representative Joseph Crowley in the Democratic primary for New York’s 14th Congressional District last month. We are referring to John Purroy Mitchel, who was elected mayor of New York City at the age of 34 in 1913. He was known as “the boy mayor of New York,” but died in a plane accident on July 6, 1918.

His funeral was held in New York City exactly 100 years ago today.

During Mr. Mitchel’s tenure as mayor, from 1914 to 1917, transit and factory workers were striking in the wake of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, an outbreak of polio took the lives of almost 2,500 New Yorkers, and the United States was about to enter World War I.

“It was a really tough time to be mayor,” said Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, a historian and the author of “World War I New York: A Guide to the City’s Enduring Ties to The Great War.”

“You have to remember that at this time, two-thirds of New York City was foreign born,” he added.

With anti-German sentiment in the city boiling, Mr. Mitchel banned the waving of foreign flags to ease tensions. “He deserves a lot of credit for how much he kept New York City together during World War I,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said.

He was also an uncompromising reformer at a time when reform was not popular.

“His four years did a lot to change the laws that we enjoy today — labor laws, safety laws — and he was big into helping immigrants and the working class and their safety,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said.

A lifelong foe of Tammany Hall, Mr. Mitchel pushed for maternity leave for schoolteachers, subway construction jobs for the unemployed and he appointed an African-American member to the Board of Education — all moves that inspired a generation of future progressives, like Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia.

Mr. Fitzpatrick said he was not a popular mayor because “he was really bad at public relations.” His snazzy suits and hobnobbing with the wealthy didn’t win him fans among poor New Yorkers. When he ran again in 1917, Mr. Fitzpatrick said, “he lost soundly; he was destroyed.”

Within two weeks of leaving City Hall, Mr. Mitchel had signed up to serve in the Army Air Service as an air cadet. On July 6, 1918, he fell out of the aircraft he was flying in, during training in Louisiana, and died. He was a consummate daredevil and wasn’t wearing his seatbelt.

Even though he served only one term, Mr. Mitchel is one of the most memorialized politicians in the city. He is remembered at the flagstaffs at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and Mid-Manhattan Library at 42nd Street, Columbia University and Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, where he is buried, to name a few locations.

Mr. Mitchel had a “really tragic aura around him,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said. “Could he have been governor? Could he have been a senator? The whole thing is a big what if.”

Here’s what else is happening:

Weather

Our weather headline today is sure to surprise no one: It’s sticky.

The high could reach 87, slightly cooler than yesterday, and we’re expecting a sky filled with sun.

Daily highs remain more or less constant for the rest of the week.

In the News

After nearly six months on the job as the man hired to lead the city’s problem-plagued subway system, Andy Byford will finally meet the mayor. [New York Times]

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Andy Byford leaving City Hall on Tuesday after meeting with the mayor.CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times

A day after announcing a vast lead paint inspection plan in New York City public housing apartments, Mayor Bill de Blasio committed his administration’s resources and energy. [New York Times]

A 26-year-old man was killed near the Staten Island courthouse when men he was believed to have shot at hit him with a stolen minivan. [New York Times]

The New York City ID cards were supposed to offer a form of protection to undocumented immigrants, but a couple recent incidents have raised questions. [New York Times]

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is calling for state law to protect reproductive rights. Cynthia Nixon doesn’t think he’s being genuine. [New York Times]

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Cynthia Nixon joined an abortion rights rally Tuesday in Union Square.CreditMarian Carrasquero/The New York Times

In “About New York,” the columnist Jim Dwyer tells us about the first fire department chief through the doors of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001; he is finally saying goodbye to the department. [New York Times]

Jumaane Williams, a Brooklyn city councilman, was arrested outside Trump Tower in Manhattan at a demonstration protesting the president’s choice for Supreme Court justice. [am New York]

While the overall crime rates in New York City have dropped this year, there has been an increase in rapes and murders in the first six months. [Gothamist]

Today’s Metropolitan Diary: “Park Slope Barber

For a global look at what’s happening, see Your Morning Briefing.

Coming Up Today

Sisters of Comedy,” an evening of comedy with Agunda Okeyo, at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. 6 p.m. [Free]

Join a sunset yoga class on the Hudson at 66th Street in Riverside Park. 6:30 p.m. [Free]

A discussion, “European Vacation: The Birth of the Grand Tour,” explores 17th-century road maps and travel guides that illustrate when travel became associated with pleasure, at the New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in Midtown Manhattan. 6:30 p.m. [Free]

The Outdoor Cinema international film festival screens “Monsoon Wedding” at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Queens. Film begins at sundown, at about 8:30 p.m. [Free]

The Classical Theatre of Harlem presents an Afropunk production of “Antigone” at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. 8:30 p.m. [Free]

Yankees at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (YES). Mets host Phillies, 7:10 p.m. (SNY).

In the World Cup semifinals, Croatia takes on England at 2 p.m. Here’s where to watch.

Alternate-side parking remains in effect until August 15.

For more events, see The New York Times’s Arts & Entertainment guide.

And Finally…

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Looking for fun?CreditJulia Gillard for The New York Times

Summertime equals playtime.

So if you have or know kids, here are free outdoor sports offered by the City Parks Foundation’s CityParks Play program.

Tennis. Children ages 6 to 17 meet twice a week for instruction at locations around the city. There are junior tournament series throughout the summer and an invitational championship in September. Free year-round programs also are offered. The summer program runs through Aug. 13.

Golf. The summer golf program offers beginner classes to kids 6 to 17 at golf centers in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens. Classes are held twice a week.

Track and Field. Children ages 5 to 17 can learn sprinting techniques, javelin-throwing, long jump, hurdles and more. In August, a citywide track and field meet will be held at Icahn Stadium on Randalls Island. Classes meet twice a week through Aug. 15.

Soccer. Kids ages 8 to 12 can receive basic instruction and receive occasional coaching from New York City F.C. coaches. Certain players will be selected to join a one-day tournament later in the summer. Classes are twice a week through Aug. 9.

Everyday Play. There’s something to do every day for kids ages 6 to 11 at Kaiser Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn, and the Williamsbridge Oval in the Bronx including obstacle courses, relay races, kickball, climbing and more. Free breakfast and lunch are included at the Brooklyn site and activities run through Aug. 10.

Even though the registration has passed for many of the programs, they still may accept walk-ups, who should arrive extra early to see if there is a spot.

New York Today is a morning roundup that is published weekdays at 6 a.m. If you don’t get it in your inbox already, you can sign up to receive it by email here.

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