Tag Archives: FDR

FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt Discussion Event


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The New-York Historical Society will host a discussion on Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Thursday, March 31, 2011, 6:30 p.m, at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th St. at Central Park West, to be presented in conjunction with the building of the FDR Four Freedoms Park. The program features historian Douglas Brinkley, Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel, Roosevelt scholar William E. Leuchtenburg, and author Hazel Rowley.

In his State of the Union Address on January 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt looked forward to a world in which everyone enjoyed four essential freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. These values were central to both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, who made it her personal mission to codify those rights in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Experts discuss the speech and its far-reaching influence, and also delve into this extraordinary couple’s influence on one another.

William E. Leuchtenburg is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a former Bancroft Prize winner, and the author of six books on FDR. Hazel Rowley is the author of several books, including Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: An Extraordinary Marriage. William J. vanden Heuvel is Chairman of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, LLC, as well as Founder and Chair Emeritus of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. Douglas Brinkley (moderator) is a professor of history at Rice University and a fellow in history at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. He is a member of the board of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute.

The cost is $20 for non-members; $10 for members. Call SmartTix at 212 868-4444 or visit SmartTix.com to purchase tickets.

Photo: The Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms, located at the southernmost point of Roosevelt Island, in the East River between Manhattan Island and Queens in New York City. It was designed by the architect Louis Kahn.

Roosevelt Island Opens New Aerial Tramway


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The newly rebuilt Roosevelt Island Tramway opened today, following a nine-month modernization project which replaced the previous 33-year-old tram system. The new tram reduces travel time, permits both cabins to start on the side with highest demand during rush hour, and includes new safety measures, according to an announcement by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), a New York State Public Benefit Corporation in charge of the management of Roosevelt Island.

“Roosevelt Island’s Tramway is once again the most modern urban aerial transportation system in the world,” said Leslie Torres, President of RIOC, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new tram. “It’s built to serve residents, business, and tourists for the next thirty (30) years.” Roosevelt Island is currently home to approximately 12,000 residents, open spaces, recreation areas, six landmarks, schools, and shops. The Tram continues to be part of the Metro Card fare system, providing free transfers to buses and subways. The infrastructure improvement was funded through a $15 million investment from the State of New York and $10 million from RIOC.

The Tram was designed to be more stable in high winds, eliminate impact of electrical and mechanical malfunctions, and allow for one cabin to continue operations while the other undergoes preventive maintenance. According to Brian Lawler, Commissioner and CEO of New York State Homes and Community Renewal, “We created this tram with the convenience and safety of Roosevelt Island residents, businesses and tourist in mind. A state-of-the-art tram helps further our mission to create a model community of mixed-income housing, small businesses and plenty of open, green space to serve both island residents and the larger City community.”

Key innovations for the new Tram include:

• Two separate Tram systems. Each cable track operates independently of the other, allowing for preventive maintenance and other servicing on one side, while maintaining service on the other.

• Cabins that are attached to a double hanger arms, providing for a more stable ride. The cabins of the previous system were suspended from a single hanger arm.

• Built-in operational and electrical back-ups including a separate motor for each cabin, back-up motors for the cabins, and four (4) back-up generators.

Pomagalski, S.A. (Poma), one of two companies world-wide capable of rebuilding the tram, was awarded the design/build contract in 2008, after a selection process. POMA worked closely with local trades and contractors, under the supervision of RIOC and its engineering team consisting of New York based LiRo Engineering and Thornton Tomasetti, and Shea, Carr, Jewel of Denver, Colorado. Leitner-Poma, the American affiliate has a five-year operating agreement to run the Tram with a New York based crew.

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation of the State of New York was created by State statute in 1984 with responsibility for the operation and development of Roosevelt Island. A General Development Plan, which accompanied the 1969 Ground Lease between New York City and State, directed the development of “a new community” specifically providing for mixed income housing, an abundance of open space, protection of its six City landmarked buildings, protection of the environment and innovative solutions to New York’s technology requirements. “.. a demonstration of modern planners’ capacity to harness technology for human use, while enhancing rather than degrading the environment.…”, according to a 1976 editorial marking the naming of Roosevelt Island after our 32 President.

The Roosevelt Island Plan is now nearly complete. The Four Freedoms Park, a memorial to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is under construction and three more residential buildings are expected within the next few years. The Tram’s redesign anticipates increased usage over the coming years.

Whiteface Memorial Highway Celebrates 75 Years


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The Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway, in Wilmington, N.Y., turns 75 tomorrow, Tuesday, September 14th. Whiteface, its staff and the town of Wilmington, will celebrate the occasion by rolling back prices to $1 per person, the same rate as it was in 1935. And since the Highway is dedicated to all veterans, they will be admitted free.

Once at the top, guest will have the opportunity to enjoy historical displays at the castle, a specially priced barbeque, and at 1 p.m. a ceremony which will include the reading of then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech, which dedicated the highway to all the fallen veterans of World War I. Other speakers will include New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) president/CEO Ted Blazer and Town of Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston.

Opened to automobile traffic July 20, 1935, the Highway “officially” opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony, Sept. 14, 1935 which was attended by President Roosevelt, who was New York’s Governor when ground was broken for the eight-mile long stretch of roadway. During the ceremony, the United States’ 32nd President dedicated the highway to all the fallen veterans of the “Great War,” but in 1985, then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo re-dedicated the highway to all veterans. It has recently been slated for upgrades.

Whiteface Mountain is the fifth largest peak in the Adirondack Mountain range and it’s the only mountain in the Adirondacks that offers accessibility by vehicle. Today, from mid-May to early-October, visitors to the area can take a drive or cycle up the five-mile long scenic highway, from the toll booth to the top. Along the way there are scenic lookout points and picnic areas where visitors can stop and enjoy views of the Adirondack region.

Once at the top of the 4,867-foot high Whiteface Mountain, guests can enjoy a spectacular 360-degree, panoramic view of the region, spanning hundreds of square miles of wild land reaching out to Vermont and Canada. Guests can also visit the castle, built from native stone, where they will find a gift shop and restaurant. For those who are unable to reach the summit on foot, an elevator is available that will take guests the final 26-stories to the summit’s observation deck.

The Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway was also listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

Whiteface Memorial Highway Turns 75


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The Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway, in Wilmington, N.Y., celebrated its 75th birthday on July 20th. At a cost of $1.2 million, construction of the winding roadway began in 1929 and was a part of the Depression Era public works projects. The highway opened to automobile traffic July 20, 1935 and the official opening ceremony took place later that year, in September.

During the opening ceremony celebration, then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was New York’s Governor when ground was broken for the eight-mile long stretch of roadway, dedicated it to the veterans of World War I. In 1985, then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo re-dedicated the highway to all veterans.

Today, from mid-May to early-October, visitors to the area can take a drive or cycle up the five-mile long scenic highway, from the toll booth to the top. Along the way there are scenic lookout points and picnic areas where visitors can stop and enjoy views of the Adirondack region.

Once at the top of the 4,867-foot high Whiteface Mountain, guests can enjoy a 360-degree, panoramic view of the region, spanning hundreds of square miles of wild land reaching out to Vermont and Canada. Guests can also visit the castle, built from native stone, where they will find a gift shop and restaurant. For those who are unable to reach the summit on foot, an elevator is available that will take guests the final 26-stories to the summit’s observation deck.

Admission to the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway is $10 for vehicle and driver, $6 for each additional passenger. Bicycles can enjoy the more than 2,300-foot climb for only $5.

Photo: President Franklin D. Roosevelt attends the official opening of the Whiteface highway, Sept. 1935, and dedicates it to all veterans of World War I. Courtesy 1932 and 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum.

Role of White House Advisors Subject of FDR Exhibit


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With unemployment soaring and many of the nation’s banks in uncertain straits, a newly elected President adopts the activist agenda of “wooly-headed professors” and soon is being bitterly accused of seeking dictatorial power.

This scenario, which has its uncanny echoes in today’s political scene, was played out beginning in 1932 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the circle of Columbia University scholars who became his close advisors. The story of this epoch-making alliance between the White House and academia is told in the New-York Historical Society exhibition FDR’s Brain Trust, on view now through March 1, 2010.

“No President in the past century took office in such difficult circumstances as did Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and no President moved ahead more quickly and forcefully,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “This new exhibition explores how Roosevelt, while still a candidate for President, did something that was unprecedented at the time and sought counsel from academics. We see how this decision led directly to the daring innovations that became known as the New Deal, and that remain with us to this day.”

Curated by Jean W. Ashton, Executive Vice President and Director of Library division, the exhibition is designed to evoke both the desperation of the Great Depression and the hope and energy of a nation rebuilding itself. FDR’s Brain Trust presents rarely seen photographs, cartoons, documents, artifacts, and newsreels drawn from the New-York Historical Society collection and the archives of Columbia University. These materials bring to life the personalities, convictions and circumstances of FDR and the people who were at first known jokingly as his “Privy Council”—Columbia University professors Raymond Moley, Adolf Berle and Rexford G. Tugwell. Dubbed “The Brains Trust” in July 1932 by a New York Times reporter—the “s” was eventually dropped—these men were eventually joined in the new Roosevelt administration by Harry Hopkins, founder of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and Frances Perkins, who as Secretary of Labor became the first female cabinet member.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

· an etching by Martin Borne titled Hooverville on Hudson (1934), showing a camp of the unemployed and homeless that would have been visible from the Columbia University campus

· a map from the Real Estate Record and Guide (March 25, 1933) showing the spread of foreclosed properties across Manhattan

· broadsides depicting street demonstrations

· an executive order requiring that all gold be deposited in a Federal Reserve Bank

· editorial cartoons from the Chicago Tribune and Des Moines Register depicting FDR and his advisors as Soviet-style socialists

Despite the vehemence that the Brain Trust aroused, the speed and scope of the New Deal they advocated were unprecedented. Less than four months after Roosevelt took office, his administration stabilized the banks and the economy, saved homes and farms from foreclosure, and began to institute a vast range of programs (including Workmen’s Compensation, a federal minimum wage, child labor laws and Social Security) to address the dire needs of Americans.

A Program On America’s Only World War II Refugee Camp


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Sixty-five years ago 982 people arrived at Fort Ontario in Oswego, NY. They would stay the next 18 months at the only World War II refugee camp on American soil. On August 20th at 6 pm in Sackets Harbor, Safe Haven President Elizabeth A. Kahl will share the story of those 982 “guests” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt from August 1944 to February 1946. The program is part of the 2009 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Experience Series at the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center.

Kahl, who has served on the board of the nonprofit that administers the Safe Haven Museum and Education Center in Oswego since 1999, said in a press release that “The maelstrom that was World War II had millions of fugitives fleeing for their lives in Europe. A continent away, Oswego, New York on the shores of Lake Ontario was to play a unique role in history as the small community who gave 982 people shelter and hope.”

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is among those who visited the refugees at the fort.

The $5 admission to the August 20th program benefits the Seaway Trail Foundation and its educational programming.

American Presidents Blog: The Roosevelts


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One of the blogs I follow here at New York History is Michael Lorenzen’s American Presidents blog. he recently took a trip to New York and posted a three-part blog on the Roosevelt sites:

Part One – covered Sagamore Hill, the Long Island estate of Theodore and Edith Roosevelt.

Part Two – looked at Eleanor Roosevelt’s home Val-Kill.

Part Three – was a visit to the FDR Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park.

Interesting reads, from an interesting blog.

FDR Library ‘literally falling apart’


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From the New York Times, via the History News Network:

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum at Hyde Park, N.Y., the nation’s first presidential library, is literally falling apart. The roof leaks, the basement floods, asbestos is flaking from old steam pipes, an ancient electrical system could send the whole place up in smoke. This sorry situation is an insult to the person the library and museum honor: the founder of the New Deal, the greatest investment in our nation’s modern development….

While the library sits high above the river, its basement lies below the water table. Sump pumps installed in 1939 are supposed to keep it dry, but don’t. Storms have caused flooding in the basement where collections are stored and in restrooms and public areas. What’s worse, storm and sewer drainage run together, which means they mingle if there’s a backup in the basement.

The electrical system, which was also installed in 1939, has outlived the suppliers of replacement parts. Archivists turn the lights on and off using the original circuit breakers. And with the electrical vault in the flood-prone basement, the library’s director, Cynthia Koch, fears that a short in the system could set the place on fire and destroy the entire collection.