Jake A. Petzold Writer, vice presidential historian, urbanist. Angeleno experimenting with New York.
1 hr ago
For the First Time, Two Presidential Nominees in One City
On Tuesday night, the next president will be in Manhattan. And so will their defeated opponent.
For the first time maybe ever and at least since 1860, both major presidential candidates will be in the same city on election night.
It’s a surprising and trivial first in this campaign cycle of many. But this is the fourth time the two major presidential nominees come from the same state. And the third time New Yorkers have opposed each other in a presidential election. So why haven’t presidential candidates from the same state been in the same city on election night — in New York or elsewhere? Here are the close calls:
1940 & 1944: Roosevelt and His Challengers
President and former New York Governor Franklin Roosevelt faced fellow New Yorkers as he ran for reelection in both 1940 and 1944. On Election Day 1940, President Roosevelt voted at the town hall near his family home in Hyde Park, about 85 miles north of New York City. He tabulated the results in the dining room with his secretaries while Eleanor Roosevelt hosted about 40 supper guests at her nearby cottage at Val-Kill. After the win became clear, FDR informally addressed his neighbors and guests from his front porch in Hyde Park. Roosevelt’s White House staff followed returns from a temporary office in a Poughkeepsie hotel a few miles away.
His opponent, New York corporate executive Wendell Willkie, voted early at Manhattan’s P.S. 6, at Madison Avenue and 85th Street, then enjoyed a leisurely drive through Central Park before spending the day at home at 1010 Fifth Avenue. Willkie later ate dinner and listened to election news with family and friends at his personal headquarters on the 14th floor of the Commodore Hotel on West 42nd Street. Shortly after midnight, Willkie spoke to about 1,500 supporters in the hotel’s Grand Ball Room, vowing not to give up his cause, but knowing he had almost certainly lost. (The Commodore Hotel would become the Grand Hyatt decades later, after Donald Trump and the Hyatt Corporation purchased and rebuilt it.)
In 1944, Roosevelt again spent the day in Hyde Park, voting at the town hall and tabulating the returns in his dining room. He similarly addressed Hyde Park villagers from his front porch, noting that while it was too early to know whether or not he had been elected to a fourth term, “It looks like I’ll be coming up here from Washington again for another four years.”
In 1944, the New York Governor Thomas Dewey, Republican presidential nominee, started Election Day at the Executive Residence in Albany. He took a special train to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan then proceeded straight to his polling place at 48th Street near Park Avenue. Dewey and his family spent the evening at the Republican National Headquarters at the Roosevelt Hotel, Dewey’s Manhattan residence. By 3:15 the following morning, Dewey conceded by radio.
1920: Ohio’s Newspapermen
In 1920, two Ohio newspaper publishers — the state’s Governor and one of its U.S. Senators — faced each other in the presidential election. Election Day was Senator Warren Harding’s 55th birthday. He voted at a private garage around 10:30, then was driven 40 miles to Columbus for a round of golf. Harding returned home to eat dinner, celebrate his birthday, and receive election bulletins with friends and colleagues. A two-story house next door to the Harding home served as his campaign headquarters, while Harding smoked a cigar in his home’s library. At some point in the evening, a group of Marion Daily Star employees called on Harding, and he thanked them for their support. He left formal remarks on his victory for the following Thursday.
About 90 miles away in Dayton, Governor James Cox’s overnight train from Toledo arrived around 3:00am on Election Day. He voted around 10:00am, smoking a borrowed cigar as he waited in line. Cox visited his home at Trail’s End then spent the evening in his office at the Dayton Daily News. He received friends and visitors, but made no remarks. His newspaper declared Harding the victor by 11:00pm.
1904: The First Modern Same-State Contest
In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt sought election to the office in his own right, having been elevated by William McKinley’s assassination. The former New York Governor and New York City Police Commissioner faced Alton Parker, the Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals. President Roosevelt took an overnight train from the White House to his home precinct in Oyster Bay on Long Island. He voted and greeted townspeople before immediately returning to Washington, not even visiting his home at Sagamore Hill or stopping in New York City. He received election returns at the White House with Cabinet members and friends.
Judge Parker spent Election Day with his family at Rosemount, his estate in Esopus, New York, about 90 miles north of Manhattan. In the morning, he voted a straight Democratic ticket in Kingston then had a dental examination — his Election Day tradition. He spent the afternoon walking his estate with his family before dining with friends and listening to returns in his library. At 8:30pm, Parker conceded to Roosevelt by telegram and made no further statement.