William Francis Deegan

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Memorial at E 138th Street

William Francis Deegan (December 28, 1882 – April 3, 1932) was an architect, organizer of the American Legion, major in the Army Corps of Engineers, and Democratic political leader in New York City.[1][2]


He was born on December 28, 1882 to Irish immigrants. He studied architecture at Cooper Union and at age 35 served in World War I as a staff officer in the 105th Field Artillery.[3]

Deegan later joined the United States Army Corps of Engineers as a major, where he supervised the construction of military bases in the New York area under the command of General George W. Goethals.[1] After the war he helped organize the American Legion in 1919, advancing to State Commander in 1921.[1] Deegan worked as an architect at a number of distinguished firms, including McKim, Mead, and White; Post, Magnicke and Franke; and Starrett and Van Vieck.[1][3] Later in life he held a number of political positions, most of them in the Bronx.[1] Deegan was President of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce until the chamber grew critical of Mayor Jimmy Walker, at which point he resigned. In 1928, Mayor Walker appointed him Tenement House Commissioner of New York City – a post he was to hold for the rest of his life[1] – and in 1930, Chairman of the Mayor's Committee on Receptions to Distinguished Guests, or "official greeter", a job in which he was preceded by his friend Rodman Wanamaker and eventually succeeded by Grover Whalen.

Deegan died following an appendectomy on April 3, 1932.[2][3]


At the time of his death, a new road was being built from the Triborough Bridge to the Grand Concourse. This was renamed and expanded in 1956[1] into the Major Deegan Expressway section of I-87 in the Bronx, which retains his name.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Kenneth T. Jackson (1995). The Encyclopedia of New York City: The New York Historical Society. Yale University Press. p. 323. 
  2. ^ a b "W. F. Deegan Dies After Operation. Tenement House Commissioner Recovering From Appendicitis When Complications Set In. Close Friend of Walker. In the City Cabinet Since 1928. Headed Official Reception Committeeu. Active in Legion". New York Times. April 4, 1932. Retrieved 2011-09-27. Major William F. Deegan, Tenement House Commissioner, and chairman of the ... William F. Deegan gave up an established practice as an architect to become ... 
  3. ^ a b c "William Francis Deegan". New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.