They Live Forevermore...

The Hall of Fame of Great Americans and the Gould Memorial Library of Bronx Community College
December 11, 2009
Click to see 01 They Live...jpg
01 They Live...jpg
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02 By Wealth of Thought.jpg
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03 Or Else By MighTy Deed.jpg
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04 Bronx Community College.jpg
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05 not MIT.jpg
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06 White Memorial Doors.jpg
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07 The Fear of the Lord...jpg
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08 the Beginning of Wisdom.jpg
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Click to see 09 Gould Library Vestibule.jpg
09 Gould Library Vestibule.jpg
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10 Gould Library Dome.jpg
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12 Irish Marble Columns.jpg
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13 The Hall of Fame.jpg
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14 High Above the Harlem.jpg
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15 Completed MCM.jpg
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16 Northwest Colonnade.jpg
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18 Statesmen.jpg
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19 Jefferson and Adams.jpg
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20 Benjamin Franklin.jpg
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21 Abraham Lincoln.jpg
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22 Andrew Jackson.jpg
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26 Perservere and Excel.jpg
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27 Robert Fulton.jpg
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30 Walter Reed.jpg
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32 Willliam Tecumseh Sherman.jpg
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36 Charlotte Cushman.jpg
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38 Mary Lyon.jpg
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39 Booker T. Washington.jpg
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40 Alice Freeman Palmer.jpg
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43 Sidney Lanier.jpg
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44 Edgar Allan Poe.jpg
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45 Mark Twain.jpg
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46 James Russell Lowell.jpg
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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.

The Hall of Fame for Great Americans and Gould Memorial Library are both NYC landmarks and listed on the Nation Register of Historic Places. They were designed by renowned New York City architect Stanford White. The architectural firm of McKim, Mead, & White achieved legendary status for their beautifully grand Beaux Arts buildings constructed in turn of the century New York. Stanford White was considered the premier Gilded Age architect, whose lofty monumental structures included the original Madison Square Garden, the Metropolitan Club at 60th street and Fifth Avenue, constructed for J.P. Morgan, and the Washington Square Arch.

For the Gould Memorial Library White chose as his inspiration the Pantheon in Rome. A fitting model considering the Hall of Fame that would soon be built as an ornamental colonnade curving behind the library was destined to become the quintessential American Pantheon. The library is laid out as a Greek cross with a circular reading room crowned by a soaring coffered dome. The rotunda is lined with 16 Corinthian columns made of rare Connemara Irish green marble. Statues of the Greek Muses line the lofty balcony while the floor is covered with marble mosaic tiles from Italy. Tiffany stained glass windows brighten the vestibule and encircle the rotunda’s mezzanine level.

The exterior of the library is made of yellow Roman brick and limestone pilasters. Six Indiana sandstone columns line the portico and beckon you to explore further. As a tribute to the murdered Stanford White his artist colleagues chose to honor him with the memorial bronze doors that now grace the entrance to the Gould Memorial Library. They were designed by his son Lawrence White and feature eight symbolic reliefs done by Stanford White’s friends as a tribute to someone who had “opened doors” for other artists.

The Hall of Fame colonnade was also designed by Mr. White as a neo-classical promenade built atop the library’s foundations on the crest of the highest point in New York City. It is made of limestone and granite and has a vaulted ceiling of Guastovino tiles. The original 29 bronze tablets honoring the first Hall of Fame inductees were designed by the Tiffany Studios.

Photographs ©2009 PBTurgeon All Rights Reserved
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