By Cynthia Tobar
The Hall of Fame for Great Americans, created in 1900, was the first monument of its kind that sought the active involvement of Americans in nominating their favorite "Great Americans.” The Hall was conceived of by Dr. Henry Mitchell MacCracken, Chancellor of New York University (NYU), who envisioned a democratic election process for selecting these greats modeled after presidential elections. Nominations came to the election center and after a person received a certain number of votes, an NYU Senate of 100 voters made the final choice. The Senate was composed of American leaders: past American presidents, presidents of colleges, senators, and men of renown in various fields. Problems soon arose, however, when this initial process yielded 29 nominees, all male. The lack of women created a scandal and in the next election eight women were elected (currently, there are 11 women in the Hall). However, the contentious nomination of Robert E. Lee remained.
Reviewed by Leslie Day
By Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis
The Gould Memorial Library in the Bronx may be the most famous building in New York City that you’ve never heard of. It recently made an appearance in The Greatest Showman, the 2018 Hugh Jackman musical about the life of P. T. Barnum, as the setting for a glorious party, but unless you know what you’re looking at, you’d think it was an elaborate Hollywood stage set—not a library.
By Annemarie Sammartino
In mid-1976, a provisional settlement awarded control of Co-op City to its residents. Co-op City was, and is, a 15,382 apartment middle-income development located in the Northeast Bronx. The achievement of resident control represented the culmination of negotiations following a thirteen-month rent strike that destroyed the non-profit United Housing Foundation (UHF) that had built Co-op City and nearly bankrupted the New York State Housing Finance Agency. As the terms of the provisional settlement began to come out, the Wall Street Journal was apoplectic about what awarding resident control might mean:
By Kate Culkin
“I am a little frightened by what is necessary to elect Miss Lillian D. Wald but am determined to do all I can to bring the election of this great lady, deserving of a place in the Hall of Fame,” Aaron Rabinowitz wrote in October 1964. He was referring to his campaign to elect Wald, the public health advocate who founded the Visiting Nurse Service and the Henry Street Settlement, to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. Dedicated in 1900 and designed by Stanford White, the monument was the first hall of fame in the United States. The open-air colonnade with spaces for 102 busts is located at Bronx Community College (BCC), formally home to New York University’s University Heights campus. In August 2017, it was thrust into a national conversation about commemoration in the wake of the riots in Charlottesville, VA, over the removal of confederate monuments. News reports and city and state politicians condemned the presence of Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee in the hall. The school removed the busts and is considering how to address their presence and removal. The conversation around the monument, however, more commonly focuses on its being old-fashioned and in need of repair, such as the 2009 New York Times article “A Hall of Fame: Forgotten and Forlorn.”
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