Chester Arthur: the Indignity!

...presidential home now a grocery store

Arthur's swearing in after President Garfield's assassination
Brian Adams / Mental Floss

At 2:15 a.m. on September 20, 1881, Vice President Chester A. Arthur became the 21st president of the United States in the parlor of his New York City apartment. The odd hour and location of Arthur’s swearing in was in response to the death of our 20th president, James Garfield, who passed away in the White House hours earlier. (Garfield had been shot by an assassin weeks earlier, but his death was the result of infections caused by unsanitary conditions.) So, when Judge John R. Brady administered the oath of office on the first floor of Arthur’s home, the after-hours meeting would mark, to this day, only the second presidential inauguration to ever take place in NYC, the first being General Washington at Federal Hall on Wall Street.

Eyewitnesses at Arthur’s anomalous swearing-in were aware of its historical significance, but who knew that, years later, the Manhattan brownstone would become a forgotten piece of American history and better known as a neighborhood standby for dried fruits and falafel?

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