Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Shooting of Mayor Gaynor

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Mayor William Jay Gaynor, August 9, 1910, moments after being shot in the throat by a disgruntled former City employee. On the left, moving forward to help the mayor is Robert Todd Lincoln, the only surviving son of President Lincoln.On the right is Robert Marsh, grabbing the mayor’s arm to steady him.

The Evening World photographer William Warnecke was on SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse to cover the mayor’s European vacation. At 9:40 am, Robert Anderson, the mayor’s secretary, shouted a warning as an unknown man (later identified as J.J. Gallagher) drew his pistol and pulled it six inches away from the mayor’s head. It failed to go off. The man fired two more shots (which hit Gaynor in the neck and then in the back) before being subdued. As this moment, Warnecke took this picture. He took another photo of the mayor being carried off the ship.

Despite having shot twice, Mayor Gaynor survived. So did his name. The photo appeared on a four-column ‘cut’. Thanks to the great newspaper man Charles Chapin (Bill Warnecke, as the tradition with many photographers of the day, went uncredited) the name of obscure mayor [Gaynor was a political outsider, never even having set foot in City Hall until the day of his inauguration] was written into history by this one great photo.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

May 30, 2009 at 9:47 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. As I’m sure you know, Robert Todd Lincoln was present at 3 presidential assassinations as well. Poor guy. When I saw this photo I said “you’ve gotta be kidding me.” I’m sure he was saying the same thing in the back of his mind when this happened.


    February 5, 2010 at 9:20 am

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