Hall of Fame for Great Americans
Part of Town:
The Hall of Fame for Great Americans at Bronx Community College, the original “Hall of Fame” in this country, is a New York landmark institution founded in 1900 to honor prominent Americans who have had a significant impact on this nation’s history. The Hall of Fame was originated by Dr. Henry Mitchell MacCracken, Chancellor of New York University from 1891 to 1910, and was designed as part of the construction of an undergraduate college of that university. Built in a sweeping semicircular Neo-Classical arc with wings at either end, it provides a panorama across the Harlem River to the Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park and beyond to the Palisades. It is a unique and patriotic reminder that this country’s phenomenal growth has been due to the vitality, ingenuity, and intellect of these individuals. The principal feature of the Hall of Fame is its 630-foot open-air Colonnade, which houses the bronze portrait busts of the honorees. Designed by the celebrated architect Stanford White and financed by a gift from Mrs. Finley J. Shepard (Helen Gould) to New York University, the Hall of Fame was formally dedicated on May 30, 1901.The complex of three buildings adjoining the Colonnade-Gould Memorial Library, the Hall of Languages, and Cornelius Baker Hall of Philosophy-were also designed by Stanford White and bear a close conceptual relationship to the Colonnade, with the library as the central focus. These three buildings were among the first constructed on the University Heights campus-Language Hall (1894), Gould Memorial Library (1899), and Philosophy Hall (1912). The Colonnade was designed with niches to accommodate 102 sculptured works and currently houses the busts and commemorative plaques of 98 of the 102 honorees elected since 1900. The 98 bronze busts that line the Colonnade are original works by distinguished American sculptors. The bronze tablets recessed in the wall beneath the busts carry inscriptions of significant statements made by the men and women honored. Among the master sculptors represented here are Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial; James Earl Fraser, whose work includes the figures of “Justice” and “Law” for the U.S. Supreme Court, and Frederick MacMonnies, whose reliefs grace Fifth Avenue’s Washington Arch. The Hall of Fame’s 98 portrait busts have been called “the largest and finest collection of bronze busts anywhere in our country.” The categories of occupation or endeavor represented in the Hall of Fame are authors, educators, architects, inventors, military leaders, judges, theologians, philanthropists, humanitarians, scientists, statesmen, artists, musicians, actors, and explorers.