Hall of Fame for Great Americans

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Hall of Fame Complex
NYC Landmark No. 0113
HallofFameColumns.jpg
View of the Hall of Fame for Great Americans
LocationBronx Community College campus, The Bronx, New York
Coordinates40°51′31″N 73°54′52″W / 40.85861°N 73.91444°W / 40.85861; -73.91444Coordinates: 40°51′31″N 73°54′52″W / 40.85861°N 73.91444°W / 40.85861; -73.91444
Area2 acres (0.81 ha)
Built1901
ArchitectStanford White
Architectural styleClassical Revival, Beaux-Arts
NRHP reference No.79001567 [1]
NYCL No.0113
Significant dates
Added to NRHPSeptember 7, 1979
Designated NYCLFebruary 15, 1966

The Hall of Fame for Great Americans is an outdoor sculpture gallery located on the grounds of Bronx Community College (BCC) in the Bronx, New York City. It is the first such hall of fame in the United States. Built in 1901 as part of the University Heights campus of New York University (NYU), the structure was designed by architect Stanford White to conceal a retaining wall for the Gould Memorial Library. The hall commemorates 102 prominent citizens of the United States, selected by a board of electors and grouped into one of fifteen categories. The physical structure consists of a loggia with colonnades measuring 630 feet (190 m) long. The colonnades contain niches with plaques and 96 bronze portrait busts.

The philanthropist Helen Gould donated funds for the structure in 1900, and the Hall of Fame was formally dedicated on May 30, 1901. Soon after the Hall of Fame opened, it became a focal point for U.S. national pride. Originally, the hall only contained plaques honoring native-born U.S. citizens. The first bust was installed in 1907, and foreign-born citizens were inducted starting in 1915. The majority of the busts were sculpted between 1922 and 1930. Most of the busts dedicated between 1930 and 1970 were installed shortly after the elections of their respective honorees.

The Hall of Fame became part of BCC after NYU sold its Bronx campus to City University of New York in 1973. The last honorees were elected in 1976, and the Hall of Fame has largely fallen into obscurity since then. Four of the busts were never sculpted due to a lack of funding, while the remaining 98 busts started to decay over the years. Following periods of deterioration, BCC renovated the Hall of Fame several times in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. BCC removed two busts of Confederate generals following a controversy in 2017.

Design[edit]

The memorial structure is an open-air loggia flanked by colonnades. Designed in the neoclassical style by architect Stanford White of the firm McKim, Mead & White, it was built as part of New York University (NYU)'s Bronx campus. The loggia has space for 102 bronze sculptural busts.[2] The loggia runs to the west of the Hall of Languages, Gould Memorial Library, and Hall of Philosophy from south to north.[3][4] The section around the Gould Library is curved to the west.[5][3]

Dimensions and specifications[edit]

The loggia measures 630 feet (190 m) long;[2][6] the original section measured 500 feet (150 m) long.[5][7][8] The firm of Crow, Lewis and Wick designed the 130-foot-long (40 m) annex, with McKim, Mead & White as supervising architects.[7] The hall is 170 feet (52 m) above sea level.[5][8][9] Sedgwick Avenue, which runs directly west of the Hall of Fame, is about 40 to 60 feet (12 to 18 m) beneath the hall.[9] The Hall of Fame's walkway measures 10 feet 3 inches (3.12 m) wide, flanked by parapets measuring 4 feet (1.2 m) high.[7]

The northern and southern entrances to the Hall of Fame were designed at right angles.[10] There are sculpted gates at either entrance, designed by Samuel Yellin.[6][10] The gates were donated by Mrs. Charles Beatty Alexander in memory of her late husband.[11][12][13] The words "Enter with Joy that those within have lived" are inscribed above the northern gates, while the words "Take counsel here of Beauty, Wisdom, Power" are inscribed above the southern gates.[13] The parapets are made of Massachusetts granite, while the pedestals and columns are made of Indiana limestone.[5] The eight pedestals contain the inscriptions "The Hall of Fame / for Great Americans / by wealth of thought / or else by mighty deed / they served mankind / in noble character / in world-wide good / they live forevermore".[14] The ceiling of the loggia is made of Guastavino tile, while the sloped roof above is clad with red Spanish tile.[5]

Busts and plaques[edit]

The Hall of Fame was originally planned to have space for 150 plaques, each measuring 2 by 8 feet (0.61 by 2.44 m).[5][8][15] As designed, the plaques measure about 13 inches (330 mm) tall and 7 feet (2.1 m) wide.[7] Louis Comfort Tiffany designed each plaque, which includes information about each honoree's name and lifespan, as well as a quote from each honoree.[6] The western walls of the Hall of Language and the Hall of Philosophy, which face the Hall of Fame, are also used for inscriptions.[16]

As of 2017, the hall contains 96 busts, which are placed on pedestals above the parapet walls. Beneath each bust is a bronze tablet bearing the name of the person commemorated, significant dates, achievements, and quotations.[6] The busts themselves were created by a variety of sculptors at various times.[17] Each class of honorees is placed in a different portion of the hall; for example, authors' and editors' busts are placed at the north end, while inventors' busts are placed at the south end.[18]

Next to the Hall of Fame is a bust of Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat and military officer who fought in the American Revolutionary War. Lafayette is the only non-American citizen in the complex, though he was given honorary U.S. citizenship.[19] Above his bust is the inscription "New York University to Lafayette 1932", while below is the inscription "I am an American citizen and an American officer."[20]

Museum of the Hall of Fame[edit]

There are storage rooms behind the foundation halls and below the walkway.[21] This space was originally used as the Museum of the Hall of Fame, which contained exhibits and portraits of the hall's honorees. When the Hall of Fame opened, NYU used some of the museum space as classrooms. The museum consisted of six rooms and a corridor; one of the rooms was named the Washington Gallery, after honoree George Washington.[16][22]

History[edit]

Origin and inspiration[edit]

Dr. Henry Mitchell MacCracken, chancellor of NYU, proposed the Hall of Fame in the late 1890s to conceal a retaining wall for the Gould Memorial Library.[23] According to MacCracken, the hall "owes its inception in large part to hard facts of physical geography".[8][9] MacCracken took inspiration from the Ruhmeshalle (Hall of Fame) in Munich, Germany, completed in 1853.[9][24] The Hall of Fame for Great Americans was the first hall of fame in the United States.[2][25] The word "fame" in the hall's name meant "renown", rather than the modern-day meaning of "celebrity".[26] Chancellor McCracken described the evolution of the Hall of Fame's design:[9]

While aesthetics compelled the architect to invent the terrace with its parapet of colonnade, the university's necessity compelled the discovery of an educational use for the architect's structure. Like most persons who have visited Germany, the chairman was acquainted with the "Ruhmes Halle," built near Munich by the King of Bavaria. Like all Americans, he admired the use made of Westminster Abbey, and of the Pantheon in Paris. But the American claims liberty to adopt new and broad rules to govern him, even when following on the track of his Old-World ancestors. Hence it was agreed that admission to this Hall of Fame should be controlled by a national body of electors, who might, as nearly as possible, represent the wisdom of the American people.[9]

Plans for the Hall of Fame finally proceeded after Helen Gould donated $100,000 in March 1900.[27][a] John J. Tucker received the general contract for the Hall of Fame.[5] The hall was to contain commemorative plaques for 150 individuals, 50 of whom were to be selected in 1900. Every five years thereafter, the electors would select five additional names by majority vote, with the final selections being made in 2000.[15][16][28] An individual was eligible only if they were born in the U.S. and had died at least ten years prior.[5][15][16] NYU invited 100 people to serve as electors in late March 1900. At that point, the cost of the hall had nearly doubled to $200,000.[29][30] Each U.S. state originally had one elector; in twenty states, the chief justice served as that state's elector.[31]

The electors received 252 nominations, only 30 of which received the required majority of fifty votes.[32] In October 1900, the NYU Senate approved the first inductees for inclusion. The Senate also approved the addition of a loggia for foreign-born inductees, with space for up to thirty names.[32][33] The hall included 29 names when it was dedicated on May 30, 1901; the foreign inductees' loggia had not yet been built due to a lack of funds.[34][35] When the Hall of Fame was completed, it was so widely known that The New York Times regularly reported on nominations and elections, even detailing how many votes each nominee received.[2]

Elections and heyday[edit]

1900s and 1910s[edit]

The Gould Memorial Library in 1904, with the Hall of Fame visible on either side

The NYU Senate contemplated hosting a special election in 1902 to fill the 21 vacancies, but it reneged on this plan.[36] Instead, the electors had to select 26 native-born men during the 1905 election, as well as 12 women and six foreign-born men.[36] A women's hall of fame was announced in February 1904.[37] Separate elections were hosted for women and for foreign-born men.[38][39] Every person who received at least ten votes in the 1900 election was re-nominated.[40] Male nominees needed at least 51 votes; female nominees only required 47 votes because eight electors refused to vote for any woman.[41][42] Five native-born men, three women, and three foreign-born men were selected that year; their plaques were dedicated in 1907. The Hall of Fame's first bust (depicting Horace Mann, who had been elected in 1900) was also dedicated in 1907.[43][44] The foreign-born honorees were not inducted at the time because MacCracken was planning a separate wing for them. Some electors protested that the foreign-born and native-born honorees should be honored together.[45]

Eleven additional names were selected in 1910.[46][47] In the five years that followed, 20 electors either retired or died, and 25 electors were appointed in their place.[48][31] MacCracken changed the rules for electors ahead of the 1915 election, such that one elector was apportioned to every state or group of states with one million residents.[31] As a result of population growth, each state again had its own elector in later years.[49] MacCracken canceled plans for a separate wing for foreign-born honorees in 1914, allowing foreign-born citizens to be inducted into the existing Hall of Fame.[45][50] Four foreign-born men had been elected in 1905 and 1910, but they had never been inducted.[45][51] In addition, the electors were allowed to select at least two women in every election.[51] The planned northern extension of the Hall of Fame was never built.[50]

In early 1915, NYU announced plans for a separate women's wing after receiving $33,000 in donations.[48] That year, the electors selected seven new names (including Charlotte Cushman, the first performer to be elected) as well as two of the foreign-born honorees from the previous elections.[52][53] An additional 21 electors either retired or died in the next five years, and only 34 of the original electors remained by 1920.[51] The Hall of Fame was temporarily converted to a barracks in 1918, during World War I. The United States Army laid out beds for 600 soldiers in the museum underneath the colonnade.[54] The next year, writer Robert Underwood Johnson was appointed as the Hall of Fame's second director, following the death of MacCracken, his immediate predecessor.[55]

1920s and 1930s[edit]

Between the two world wars, the Hall of Fame saw up to 50,000 visitors annually.[56] Seven Americans were selected in 1920, including foreign-born theologian Roger Williams, who had first been elected ten years prior.[57][58] Five busts, depicting nominees from previous elections, were unveiled in May 1922; they were the first busts to be added since 1907.[59] The same year, the Hall of Fame's board of electors decided to abolish separate elections for female nominees.[50][60][61] The board also enacted stricter inclusion criteria: nominees were only considered if they had been dead for at least 25 years, and three-fifths of electors had to agree on induction.[61][62] The electors had been concerned that "zealous partisans and relatives" would attempt to nominate individuals of "temporary vogue" shortly after their deaths.[63] The honorees' tablets, which had been segregated by gender, were subsequently rearranged. New tablets had to be created for each of the seven female honorees because the existing tablets were wedged so firmly into the hall's foundation.[64]

North wing of the Hall of Fame for Great Americans showing Alexander Graham Bell and Eli Whitney

NYU continued to unveil busts of honorees from previous elections in May of each year. Seven additional busts were dedicated in 1923,[65][66] ten in 1924,[67][68] and five in 1925.[69][70] Only two men were picked in the 1925 election, the first held under the new rules; one of them was foreign-born naval officer John Paul Jones, who had first been elected twenty years prior.[71][72] The university dedicated nine busts in 1926,[73] six in 1927,[74] five in 1928,[75] and eight in 1929.[76] Nine busts were dedicated in May 1930, as well as two sets of new gates.[11][12] At that point, all 65 previous honorees had busts.[12] Four men were elected to the Hall of Fame later the same year,[77][78] and their busts were unveiled the next May.[79]

By 1935, the Hall of Fame retained 11 of its original electors.[80] That year, the electors voted to induct three men.[81][82] The busts of two of these men were unveiled in May 1936,[83][84] but the bust of Grover Cleveland was dedicated almost a year later in March 1937, coinciding with what would have been his 100th birthday.[85] The Hall of Fame's electors leased offices at the International Building in Rockefeller Center in mid-1937.[86] Following Johnson's death later that year, journalist John Huston Finley was appointed as the Hall of Fame's director.[87][88]

1940s to 1960s[edit]

Of 141 candidates nominated in 1940, composer Stephen Collins Foster was the only person selected;[89][90] his bust was dedicated the next May.[91][92] This was the first time a musician was elected to the Hall of Fame, as well as the first election in which a single honoree was selected.[90] Radio host William Lyon Phelps was also appointed as the hall's director in early 1941.[93] Phelps died less than three years later, and educator James Rowland Angell became the hall's fifth director in 1944.[94][95] The Hall of Fame's electors switched back to a majority vote for the 1945 election, when four men were selected: Booker T. Washington, Sidney Lanier, Walter Reed, and Thomas Paine.[96][97] The bust of Washington, the hall's first Black honoree, was dedicated in May 1946.[98][99] Busts of the other honorees were delayed;[99] Lanier's bust was dedicated in October 1946,[100] while Reed's was dedicated in May 1948.[101] Ralph Washington Sockman, the pastor of Christ Church United Methodist in Manhattan, became the hall's sixth director after Angell died in 1949.[102][103] Sockman served in that position until his death two decades later.[104]

Six people were selected in 1950: Susan B. Anthony, Alexander Graham Bell, Josiah Willard Gibbs, William C. Gorgas, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson.[105][106] Bell's and Gorgas's busts were dedicated in 1951,[107][108] followed by those of Anthony and Payne in 1952[109][110] and Theodore Roosevelt in 1954.[111][112] Wilbur Wright, George Westinghouse, and Stonewall Jackson were selected during the 1955 election.[113][114] By then, the renown of some of the nominees had begun to decline, and many nominees tended to be from lesser-known fields.[115] The bust of Wilson, who had been honored in the previous election, was dedicated in May 1956.[116][117] Stonewall Jackson's bust was dedicated one year later in May 1957,[118] followed that December by the busts of Westinghouse and Gibbs.[119][120] NYU wished to unveil Wilbur Wright's bust alongside that of his brother Orville Wright, who had died in 1948 and was thus ineligible for nomination until the 1970s. NYU's senate waived the 25-year requirement for Orville Wright, allowing him to be nominated during the 1960 election.[121]

Thomas Edison, Henry David Thoreau, and Edward MacDowell were elected to the Hall of Fame in 1960.[122][123] Ten people, including Orville Wright, failed to get a sufficient number of votes and were automatically re-nominated for the next election.[123] Edison's bust was unveiled in June 1961,[124][125] while Thoreau's was unveiled the following May, the hundredth anniversary of his death.[126][127] MacDowell's bust was not unveiled until October 1964.[128][129] In addition, the Hall of Fame hired the Medallic Arts Company in 1963 to create bronze and silver medals for each of the honorees. The company created 99 different designs of medals.[130] Orville Wright was finally selected for the Hall of Fame in 1965, along with Jane Addams, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., and Sylvanus Thayer.[131][132] Four of the five remaining busts were dedicated in each of the three subsequent years. The first was Thayer's bust in 1966,[133] followed by the Wright brothers' busts[134] and then Addams's bust.[135] The Hall of Fame did not dedicate Holmes's bust until 1970, five years after his election.[136]

Sale of campus and final elections[edit]

South entrance

The Hall of Fame remained prominent through the 1960s, when the hall and its honorees were covered in the World Book Encyclopedia.[56] Only two individuals were elected to the Hall of Fame in 1970: Albert A. Michelson and Lillian Wald.[137] Subsequently, elections for the Hall of Fame were hosted every three years.[138][139] Wald's bust was installed in September 1971.[140] By then, the hall's renown had started to decline. Urban planner Robert Moses wrote in 1971 that the previous election had happened largely without fanfare and that the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission did not even mention the Hall of Fame in its reports.[141] According to Charles Parks, leader of the National Sculpture Society, the Hall of Fame's decline could be attributed to the fact that modern halls of fame commemorated living people, honoring "lots of celebrities and very few heroes".[142]

In 1973, NYU sold its Bronx campus to the City University of New York (CUNY), which operated the campus as part of the Bronx Community College (BCC).[143][144] The sale specifically excluded the Hall of Fame, which CUNY officials believed had no value.[21] Following the sale, there was uncertainty as to whether NYU, CUNY, or another organization would operate the Hall of Fame.[145][146] The Trustees of the Hall of Fame was established in 1974, and NYU and CUNY jointly provided $125,000 a year for the hall's upkeep.[147] The agreement lasted three years.[21] Four additional honorees (Louis D. Brandeis, George Washington Carver, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John Philip Sousa) were elected in November 1973, bringing the total number of inductees to 99.[146][148]

NYU was considering eliminating its $61,000 annual subsidy for the Hall of Fame by 1976. The hall's remote location, far from the New York City Subway, attracted few visitors compared to other tourist attractions in New York City.[138] At the time, it still had 10,000 annual visitors.[147] That year, the Hall of Fame started electing honorees based on how many points they received from electors, rather than based on a majority vote.[149] Clara Barton, Luther Burbank, and Andrew Carnegie were elected to the Hall of Fame the same year.[150][151] This was the Hall of Fame's last election.[147] Carver's bust was installed in 1977, four years after he had been elected,[152] while Roosevelt's bust was not installed for another fifteen years.[17][153] The busts of Brandeis, Barton, Burbank, and Carnegie were never executed due to a lack of funds.[154][155]

Maintenance and upkeep[edit]

1970s to 1990s[edit]

Funding for the Hall of Fame ceased nearly entirely after the United States Bicentennial in 1976, about the same time that the agreement between NYU and CUNY expired. All of the hall's guides were fired and the hall's information booth was closed.[142] Sightseeing buses stopped visiting the Hall of Fame the next year as its popularity declined.[156] This was at least partially attributed to fears of high crime in the surrounding area.[56][156] The Los Angeles Times said in 1978 that "its dignity and grandeur are viewed by almost no one today".[157] That year, officials in New Jersey rejected a plan to relocate the Hall of Fame to Liberty State Park.[158]

NYU owned the busts, while the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) owned the colonnade. CUNY was responsible for security and maintenance; in 1979, there was one staff member and no funds for maintenance.[159] Many of the busts corroded in the following years.[21][160] Some busts were also vandalized, such as that of Andrew Jackson, which was knocked out of its niche and pushed down a hill.[160] The remaining silver medals of honorees were melted down. Johnson & Jensen bought the remaining bronze medals, which they then sold at a deep discount.[130]

DASNY had allocated $2 million to fix the leaking roof and the walkway in 1981, though the National Endowment for the Arts rejected BCC's request for a $37,000 grant to repair the Hall of Fame.[21] The hall was closed for repairs that year,[56][159] reopening in 1985.[153][161] Afterward, BCC created a promotional videotape and trained several tour guides.[56][156] The state government also provided $165,000 to fund educational programs and new directors at the Hall of Fame.[156] The surrounding neighborhood had started to improve by the late 1980s, though the Hall of Fame remained relatively obscure.[162] The hall had only 1,000 annual visitors in 1987, excluding students on field trips, even though admission was free.[156] In 1991, CUNY hired Ralph M. Rourke as the Hall of Fame's first director in more than a decade. Five busts remained to be installed because of a lack of funds, but Rourke hoped to install Barton's and Franklin D. Roosevelt's busts within a year.[18] Roosevelt's bust was finally installed in July 1992.[153][163]

The William A. Hall Partnership was hired to restore the ceiling in 1992, and the Cavalier Renaissance Foundry restored 90 of the busts for about $40,000. Several conservators criticized the fact that the original finishes of these busts had been removed.[17] The state provided $200,000 for the renovation; at the time, public contributions toward the hall's upkeep had ceased nearly entirely.[160] The hall ultimately cost $1.3 million to restore; the project was completed in 1997.[164] The next year, the Municipal Art Society gave BCC a preservation award for "outstanding building restoration".[165][166] By the late 1990s, Rourke hoped to restart elections for the Hall of Fame. To accommodate additional honorees, Rourke proposed expanding the Hall of Fame into the Gould Library, as well as displaying short video clips instead of busts.[167] Meanwhile, Rourke asked Brandeis University, the American Red Cross, and the Carnegie Foundation if they would respectively fund the busts of Brandeis, Barton, and Carnegie. All three organizations declined to donate $25,000 for each bust.[168]

2000s to present[edit]

In 2000, Bronx borough president Fernando Ferrer offered a matching grant of $500,000 to fund further renovations, as well as the four unexecuted busts.[169][170] To raise money for the hall's renovation and expansion, BCC organized a $1 million fundraiser in 2001.[171] Nearly two years later, BCC had raised only $2,000, all of it from NYU alumni.[170] By 2009, the Hall of Fame was largely being maintained by two local historians, Art and Susan Zuckerman, who said the hall had 5,000 visitors per year. Many of the honorees had fallen into obscurity, leading Susan Zuckerman to say: "If you know 70 percent of the names, you’re doing well,"[25]

BCC announced plans in 2015 to raise $25 to $50 million for a renovation of the Gould Library, including an expansion of the Hall of Fame into the library.[172] In August 2017, following a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, New York governor Andrew Cuomo ordered that the busts of Confederate States Army generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson be removed.[173][174] Following the removals, the Hall of Fame had 96 busts and space for six additional busts. CUNY planned to host an election to fill the two remaining spots, but there were still no funds for these elections.[154] The Hall of Fame was deteriorating by 2018, with cracked masonry in many places and bird droppings on some of the busts.[175] The Cultural Landscape Foundation described the Hall of Fame as being one of several historic sites across the United States that were "at risk".[175][176]

Nominations[edit]

All nominees had to be citizens of the United States, whether naturalized or native-born. Originally, inductees were required to have died at least 10 years before their nomination,[61][177] but this was increased in 1922 to 25 years.[61][178][b] In addition, only people who had made a "major contribution to the economic, political, or cultural life of the nation" were considered for nomination.[179]

Voting process[edit]

Originally, the public could make nominations during March and April of each election year; no nominations were accepted after May 1.[51][177] By the 1950s, the nomination period lasted for an entire year.[115] If a nominee received a substantial number of votes in a previous election, they were automatically re-nominated for the next election. For example, all nominees who had received more than five votes in 1910 or 1915 were also considered in 1920.[51] The threshold for re-nomination was increased to 20 votes starting in 1935.[180]

The board of electors then decided on each nomination from June to October.[51][80] All electors were required to send in their ballots by October 1; to accommodate electors who lived further away, the Hall of Fame accepted ballots until October 15.[181] Each elector obtained ballots from the Hall of Fame's curator, upon which they could vote for up to seven individuals. The electors could only vote on nominations from the public or nominees from previous years.[115] An elector could then mark a nominee as being either eligible, ineligible, or out of that elector's field of expertise.[181] Electors included "the most respected writers, historians, and educators of their day, along with scores of congressmen, a dozen Supreme Court justices, and six Presidents".[182] The Hall of Fame had electors from all U.S. states.[106] To avoid a conflict of interest, NYU officials were barred from serving on the board of electors.[106][115]

The board of electors originally selected candidates by a simple majority vote,[179][183] although three-fifths of electors had to agree on nominations from 1925 to 1940.[179] After the board of electors voted in favor of a nominee, a majority of NYU's senate (including its "honorary members") had to approve the board of electors' choice.[16][177] For the 1976 election, the majority vote was replaced with a point system.[149][179] During that election, candidates were nominated to one of three categories (arts/humanities, sciences, and government/business/labor), and the highest-ranking candidate in each category was elected.[149][179] Although no elections have taken place since then, the rules were changed in 1979 so that art, business and labor, government, humanities, and science were all split into their own categories.[139]

Classification of honorees[edit]

A floor tile at the Hall of Fame denoting the section set aside for busts of teachers

The first 50 names were supposed to represent "a majority" of people from 15 classes:[16][22]

  • authors and editors
  • business men
  • inventors
  • missionaries and explorers
  • philanthropists and reformers
  • clergymen and theologians
  • scientists
  • engineers and architects
  • lawyers and judges
  • musicians, painters, and sculptors
  • physicians and surgeons
  • politicians and statesmen
  • soldiers and sailors
  • teachers
  • distinguished men and women outside of these classes

These classifications have not been followed because the hall's electors only selected 29 people in the first election. Furthermore, the requirement could not be enforced after the 1900 election.[184] In practice, most of the honorees in 1900 were politicians and statesmen. More than three decades later, politicians and statesmen comprised a plurality of the hall's honorees.[185]

Honorees[edit]

As of 1976, when the last election was held, the Hall of Fame had 102 honorees. At least one-quarter of honorees are from New York state or have ties to the state.[183] Seven members of the Hall of Fame's board of electors were themselves elected.[26]

Honorees of the Hall of Fame for Great Americans
Honoree Image Classification Lifetime Year inducted Votes received Pct. vote Sculptor Notes Ref.
John Adams politicians and statesmen 1735–1826 1900 61 61% John Francis Paramino[68] [33][186]
John Quincy Adams politicians and statesmen 1767–1848 1905 58 61% Edmond Thomas Quinn[12] [187]
Jane Addams authors and editors 1860–1935 1965 94 76% Granville Carter[135] [188]
Louis Agassiz scientists 1807–1873 1915 59 61% Anna Hyatt Huntington[75]
  • Initially elected in 1905 with 83 votes (87%)[187]
  • Born outside the United States, so ineligible for induction until 1914[45]
[52]
Susan B. Anthony BCC HallofFame SusanAnthony and BreuerBldg.JPG philanthropists and reformers 1820–1906 1950 72 60% Brenda Putnam[189] [190]
John James Audubon musicians, painters and sculptors 1785–1851 1900 57 57% A. Stirling Calder[74] [33][186]
George Bancroft authors and editors 1800–1891 1910 53 55% Rudulph Evans[12] [46]
Clara Barton nurse, founder of the
American Red Cross
1821–1912 1976 Point system used Bust unexecuted[154] Scored highest in arts/humanities category (942 points)[149] [150]
Henry Ward Beecher clergymen and theologians 1813–1887 1900 66 66% J. Massey Rhind[65] [33][186]
Alexander Graham Bell inventors 1847–1922 1950 70 58% Stanley Martineau [190]
Daniel Boone missionaries and explorers 1734–1820 1915 52 54% Albin Polasek[73] [52]
Edwin Booth Edwin Booth HoF jeh.jpg actor 1833–1893 1925 85 81% Edmond Thomas Quinn[73] [71][72]
Louis Brandeis lawyers and judges 1856–1941 1973 98 73% Bust unexecuted[154] [146]
Phillips Brooks clergymen and theologians 1835–1893 1910 64 66% Daniel Chester French[68] [46]
William Cullen Bryant authors and editors 1794–1878 1910 59 61% Herbert Adams[191] [46]
Luther Burbank scientists 1849–1926 1976 Point system used Bust unexecuted[154] Scored highest in sciences category (740 points)[149] [150]
Andrew Carnegie philanthropists and reformers 1835–1919 1976 Point system used Bust unexecuted[154] Scored highest in government/business/labor category (1,103 points)[149] [150]
George Washington Carver inventors 1860s–1943 1973 104 78% Richmond Barthé [146]
William Ellery Channing clergymen and theologians 1780–1842 1900 58 58% Herbert Adams[74] [33][186]
Rufus Choate teachers 1799–1859 1915 52 54% Hermon MacNeil[75] [52]
Henry Clay politicians and statesmen 1777–1852 1900 74 74% Robert Ingersoll Aitken[191] [33][186]
Samuel Langhorne Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) authors and editors 1835–1910 1920 72 71% Albert Humphreys[68] [192]
Grover Cleveland politicians and statesmen 1837–1908 1935 77 76% Rudulph Evans[193] [194]
James Fenimore Cooper authors and editors 1789–1851 1910 62 64% Victor Salvatore[12] [46]
Peter Cooper Peter Cooper HoF jeh.jpg inventors 1791–1883 1900 69 69% Chester Beach[68] [33][186]
Charlotte Cushman Charlotte Cushman in the Hall of Fame.jpg actress 1816–1876 1915 53 55% Frances Grimes[70] [52]
James Buchanan Eads engineers and architects 1820–1887 1920 51 50% Charles Grafly[68] [192]
Thomas Edison inventors 1847–1931 1960 108 77% Bryant Baker[125] [195]
Jonathan Edwards clergymen and theologians 1703–1758 1900 82 82% Charles Grafly[73] [33][186]
Ralph Waldo Emerson RW Emerson HoF jeh.jpg authors and editors 1803–1882 1900 86 86% Daniel Chester French[65] [33][186]
David Farragut soldiers and sailors 1801–1870 1900 79 79% Charles Grafly[74] [33][186]
Stephen Foster musicians, painters and sculptors 1826–1864 1940 86 80% Walker Hancock[92] [89]
Benjamin Franklin politicians and statesmen 1706–1790 1900 94 94% Robert Ingersoll Aitken[74] [33][186]
Robert Fulton inventors 1765–1815 1900 84 84% Jean-Antoine Houdon[68] [33][186]
Josiah Willard Gibbs scientists 1839–1903 1950 64 53% Stanley Martineau[120] [190]
William C. Gorgas physicians and surgeons 1854–1920 1950 81 68% Bryant Baker [190]
Ulysses S. Grant BCC HallOfFame Grant.JPG soldiers and sailors
rulers and statesmen
1822–1885 1900 92 92% James Earle Fraser &
Thomas Hudson Jones[65]
[33][186]
Asa Gray scientists 1810–1888 1900 51 51% Chester Beach[70] [33][186]
Alexander Hamilton politicians and statesmen 1755 or 1757–1804 1915 70 72% Giuseppe Ceracchi[65]
  • Initially elected in 1905 with 88 votes (93%)[187]
  • Born outside the United States, so ineligible for induction until 1914[45]
[52]
Nathaniel Hawthorne N Hawthorne Hof jeh.jpg authors and editors 1804–1864 1900 72 72% Daniel Chester French[191] [33][186]
Joseph Henry scientists 1797–1878 1915 56 58% John Flanagan[68] [52]
Patrick Henry politicians and statesmen 1736–1799 1920 57 56% Charles Keck[12] [192]
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. lawyers and judges 1809–1894 1910 69 71% Edmond Thomas Quinn [46]
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. lawyers and judges 1841–1935 1965 79 64% Joseph Kiselewski[196] [188]
Mark Hopkins Mark Hopkins HoF jeh.jpg teachers 1802–1887 1915 69 71% Hans Hoerbst[197] [52]
Elias Howe inventors 1819–1867 1915 61 63% Charles Keck[12] previously selected in 1900 with 53 of 100 votes[33][186] [52]
Washington Irving Washington Irving HoF jeh.jpg authors and editors 1783–1859 1900 82 82% Edward McCartan[68] [33][186]
Andrew Jackson politicians and statesmen 1767–1845 1910 53 55% Belle Kinney [46]
Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson soldiers and sailors 1824–1863 1955 72 60% Bryant Baker[118] ordered removed 2017[173] [198]
Thomas Jefferson politicians and statesmen 1743–1826 1900 90 90% Robert Ingersoll Aitken[68] [33][186]
John Paul Jones soldiers and sailors 1747–1792 1925 68 65% Charles Grafly[75]
  • Initially elected in 1905 with 54 votes (58%)[187]
  • Born outside the United States, so ineligible for induction until 1914[45]
  • Rejected upon renomination in 1915[52] and 1920[57]
[71][72]
James Kent lawyers and judges 1763–1847 1900 65 65% Edmond Thomas Quinn[73] [33][186]
Sidney Lanier authors and editors 1842–1881 1945 48 52% Hans Schuler[199] [96]
Robert E. Lee soldiers and sailors 1807–1870 1900 69 69% George T. Brewster[65] ordered removed 2017[173] [33][186]
Abraham Lincoln politicians and statesmen 1809–1865 1900 96 96% Augustus Saint-Gaudens[65] [33][186]
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Longfellow HoF jeh.jpg authors and editors 1807–1882 1900 84 84% Rudulph Evans[191] [33][186]
James Russell Lowell James R Lowell HoF jeh.jpg authors and editors 1819–1891 1905 58 61% Allan Clark[12] [187]
Mary Lyon Bronx Community College - Hall of Great Americans - Mary Lyon.jpg teachers 1797–1849 1905 58 67% Laura Gardin Fraser[74] One of the first three female inductees[41] [187]
Edward A. Macdowell musicians, painters and sculptors 1860–1908 1960 72 51% C. Paul Jennewein[129] [195]
James Madison politicians and statesmen 1751–1836 1905 56 59% Charles Keck[191] [187]
Horace Mann Horace Mann HoF jeh.jpg teachers 1796–1859 1900 67 67% Adolph Alexander Weinman[12] [33][186]
John Marshall lawyers and judges 1755–1835 1900 91 91% Herbert Adams[70] [33][186]
Matthew Fontaine Maury Mfmauryhofjeh.JPG scientists 1806–1873 1930 66 62% Frederick William Sievers[200] [201]
Albert A. Michelson scientists 1852–1931 1970 82 75% Elisabeth Gordon Chandler [202]
Maria Mitchell scientists 1818–1889 1905 48 55% Emma F. Brigham[197] One of the first three female inductees[41] [187]
James Monroe politicians and statesmen 1758–1831 1930 66 62% Hermon MacNeil[200] [201]
Samuel Morse inventors 1791–1872 1900 79 79% Chester Beach[75] [33][186]
William Thomas Morton physicians and surgeons 1819–1868 1920 72 71% Helen Farnsworth Mears[68] [192]
John Lothrop Motley authors and editors 1814–1877 1910 51 53% Frederick MacMonnies[12] [46]
Simon Newcomb scientists 1835–1909 1935 78 77% Frederick MacMonnies[83] [194]
Thomas Paine authors and editors 1737–1809 1945 51 55% Malvina Hoffman[189] [96]
Alice Freeman Palmer Alice Freeman Palmer in the Hall of Fame.jpg teachers 1855–1902 1920 53 52% Evelyn Beatrice Longman[74] [192]
Francis Parkman authors and editors 1823–1893 1915 68 70% Hermon MacNeil[191] [52]
George Peabody George Peabody HoF jeh.jpg philanthropists and reformers 1795–1869 1900 72 72% Hans Schuler[73] [33][186]
William Penn Wmpennhofjeh.JPG politicians and statesmen 1644–1718 1935 83 82% A. Stirling Calder[83] [194]
Edgar Allan Poe Bronx Community College - Hall of Great Americans - Edger Allen Poe.jpg authors and editors 1809–1849 1910 69 71% Daniel Chester French[197] [46]
Walter Reed physicians and surgeons 1851–1902 1945 49 53% Cecil Howard[101] [96]
Franklin D. Roosevelt FDR at the Hall of Fame.jpg politicians and statesmen 1882–1945 1973 86 64% Jo Davidson [146]
Theodore Roosevelt politicians and statesmen 1858–1919 1950 70 58% Georg J. Lober [190]
Augustus Saint-Gaudens musicians, painters and sculptors 1848–1907 1920 72 71% James Earle Fraser[73] [192]
William Tecumseh Sherman Bronx Community College (Library)- William Tecumseh Sherman.jpg soldiers and sailors 1820–1891 1905 58 61% Augustus Saint-Gaudens[70] [187]
John Philip Sousa musicians, painters and sculptors 1854–1932 1973 78 58% Karl H. Gruppe [146]
Joseph Story Joseph Story HoF jeh.jpg lawyers and judges 1779–1845 1900 64 64% Herbert Adams[12] [33][186]
Harriet Beecher Stowe HarrietBeecherStoweHoF.jpg authors and editors 1811–1896 1910 74 76% Brenda Putnam[70] [46]
Gilbert Stuart musicians, painters and sculptors 1755–1828 1900 52 52% Laura Gardin Fraser[197] [33][186]
Sylvanus Thayer soldiers and sailors 1785–1872 1965 77 62% Joseph Kiselewski[133] [188]
Henry David Thoreau ThoreauBust.jpg authors and editors 1817–1862 1960 83 59% Malvina Hoffman[203] [195]
Lillian Wald Lillian Wald HoF jeh.jpg nurse and author 1867–1940 1970 68 62% Eleanor Platt [202]
Booker T. Washington teachers 1856–1915 1945 57 61% Richmond Barthé[199] [96]
George Washington politicians and statesmen 1732–1799 1900 97 97% Jean-Antoine Houdon[197] Unanimously inducted[33] [33][186]
Daniel Webster politicians and statesmen 1782–1852 1900 96 96% Robert Ingersoll Aitken[73] [33][186]
George Westinghouse inventors 1846–1914 1955 62 51% Edmondo Quattrocchio[120] [198]
James Abbott McNeill Whistler musicians, painters and sculptors 1834–1903 1930 74 69% Frederick MacMonnies[200] [201]
Walt Whitman authors and editors 1819–1892 1930 64 60% Chester Beach[200] [201]
Eli Whitney inventors 1765–1825 1900 66 66% Chester Beach[73] [33][186]
John Greenleaf Whittier authors and editors 1807–1892 1905 53 56% Rudulph Evans[75] [187]
Roger Williams clergymen and theologians 1603–1683 1920 66 65% Hermon MacNeil[73]
  • Initially elected in 1910 with 64 votes (66%)[46]
  • Born outside the United States, so ineligible for induction until 1914[45]
  • Rejected upon renomination in 1915[52]
[192]
Emma Willard teachers 1787–1870 1905 50 57% Frances Grimes[191] One of the first three female inductees[41] [187]
Frances Willard teachers 1839–1898 1910 56 58% Lorado Taft[65] [46]
Woodrow Wilson politicians and statesmen 1856–1924 1950 77 64% Walker Kirtland Hancock[117] [190]
Orville Wright Orville Wright at the Hall of Fame.jpg inventors 1871–1948 1965 74 60% Paul Fjelde[204] [188]
Wilbur Wright Bust of Wilbur Wright at the Hall of Fame.jpg inventors 1867–1912 1955 82 68% Vincent Glinsky[204] [198]

Nominees not elected[edit]

The following people were among those nominated at least once but not elected:[205]

Among nominees who were rejected, some never received any votes, including American Revolution militia officer Paul Revere.[56] Several nominees have been rejected multiple times, including Roman Catholic saint Elizabeth Seton, poet Joyce Kilmer,[56] and politician Horace Greeley.[180] Many unsuccessful nominees received at least thirty votes in one election, and some surpassed this threshold in several elections.[206] Some of the eventual honorees were rejected several times before they were selected, including Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, and James Monroe.[180]

Impact[edit]

Soon after the Hall of Fame opened, it became a focal point for U.S. national pride:

It was a truly democratic institution — anyone could nominate a candidate, admission would be free, and although NYU served as a steward, raising funds and running the elections, the whole thing was technically the property of the American people.[207]

The Wall Street Journal wrote that the Hall of Fame was "a window on early 20th-century ideas of greatness".[2] The hall's acting director had described the Hall of Fame in 1920 as the "American Westminster Abbey",[51] and urban planner Robert Moses said that the Hall of Fame carried "no bust of an unworthy or second-rate person".[208] The critic Paul Goldberger described the hall's architecture in 1984 as making it "one of the most remarkable places in New York".[209] In the years after the Hall of Fame for Great Americans opened, more than 700 halls of fame were opened across the United States.[142] By the late 20th century, many of these halls of fame honored people in a specific field, such as a sport.[142][207] As Richard Rubin of The Atlantic Monthly wrote in 1997: "Now achievement alone was enough, even achievement within a narrow context."[207]

Starting in the late 20th century, there was some controversy over the demographic breakdown of the Hall of Fame's honorees. A major issue was that, although a majority of BCC's students were Hispanic, few of the Hall of Fame's inductees were people of color or women.[25] Though BCC president Roscoe C. Brown Jr. expressed pride for the hall's architecture, he said in 1993: "In terms of who is in and who is not, I'm ashamed to be associated with it."[210] He said many of the figures in the hall were "truly great people who led inspirational lives," but "quite a number make you wonder how they got in."[210]

The Hall of Fame has also been referenced in works of popular culture, such as the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.[2] The Hall of Fame, along with other structures on the BCC campus, have frequently been used as a filming location.[211]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ According to Rubin 1997, p. 14, her total gift to the university was $2 million.
  2. ^ Constance Woolson, nominated in 1900, had been dead for only six years at the time. Orville Wright was elected in 1965, even though he had died only 17 years prior.

Citations

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ackman, Dan (October 12, 2007). "Fame's Fortune". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  3. ^ a b National Park Service 1979, p. 3.
  4. ^ Architects' and Builders' Magazine 1902, p. 172.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "To Build a Hall of Fame: New-York University's Council Accepts a Gift of $100,000 State Aid Asked for the New-York Veterinary College in a Memorial to the Legislature". New-York Tribune. March 6, 1900. p. 7. ProQuest 570817382.
  6. ^ a b c d National Park Service 1979, p. 4.
  7. ^ a b c d Johnson 1935, p. 3.
  8. ^ a b c d Architects' and Builders' Magazine 1902, p. 167.
  9. ^ a b c d e f MacCracken, Henry Mitchell (July–December 1900). "The Hall of Fame". The American Monthly Review of Reviews. Vol. XXII. p. 563.
  10. ^ a b Johnson 1935, p. 37.
  11. ^ a b "9 Busts Unveiled at Hall of Fame; Adams, Bancroft, Cooper, Mann, Lowell, Henry, Motley, Howe and Story Honored Professor Erskine Speaks". The New York Times. May 9, 1930. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Hall of Fame Unveils Busts Honoring Nine: Bancraft, Howko, J. Q. Adams, Mann, Lowell, Henry, Motley, Cooper, Story in List Descendants in Ceremony Visitors Pay Tribute in Huge Tent Swept by the Storm". New York Herald Tribune. May 9, 1923. p. 23. ProQuest 1113163477.
  13. ^ a b Johnson 1935, p. 5.
  14. ^ Johnson 1935, p. 7.
  15. ^ a b c "Gift for a Hall of Fame; New York University to Commemorate Great Americans. The Institution's Council Accepts $100,000 to Build a Great Colonnade". The New York Times. March 6, 1900. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  16. ^ a b c d e f "The Hall of Fame for Great Americans: Professors of History and Scientists Publicists, Editors, and Authors Supreme Court Judges, State or National". Christian Advocate. Vol. 75, no. 43. October 25, 1900. p. 1724. ProQuest 125822005.
  17. ^ a b c Gray, Christopher (September 27, 1992). "Streetscapes: The Busts in the Hall of Fame; Crusty Green Yields To a Uniform Brown". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  18. ^ a b "Sunday Outing; A Scenic Overlook on Great Americans". The New York Times. January 27, 1991. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  19. ^ Sheraton, Mimi (December 15, 2000). "My Bronx; Yesterday's Heroes, Up on Pedestals". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  20. ^ "Lafayette bust and inscription (Front)". JSTOR community.21918155. Retrieved June 11, 2022. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  21. ^ a b c d e Wallach, Amei (January 5, 1981). "Forgotten Hall of Fame: The once-great tourist attraction of the Bronx has fallen into disuse and disrepair". Newsday. p. B1. ProQuest 965457308.
  22. ^ a b Johnson 1935, p. 18.
  23. ^ Stern, Robert A. M.; Gilmartin, Gregory; Massengale, John Montague (1983). New York 1900: Metropolitan Architecture and Urbanism, 1890–1915. New York: Rizzoli. p. 108. ISBN 0-8478-0511-5. OCLC 9829395.
  24. ^ Johnson 1935, p. 2.
  25. ^ a b c Dolnick, Sam (December 5, 2009). "A Hall of Fame, Forgotten and Forlorn". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 3, 2022.
  26. ^ a b Rubin 1997, p. 14.
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  28. ^ Architects' and Builders' Magazine 1902, p. 168.
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Works cited

External links[edit]