If you didn’t know better, you might get the impression that New York City owes its existence to private wealth alone. From NYU Langone Medical Center to Geffen Hall and from the David H. Koch Theater to the Rose Center for Earth and Space, many of the City’s hospitals, cultural institutions, and tourist destinations proudly display the names of private benefactors for all to see. But there was a time—from 1933 – 1943—when the federal government funded and built the city’s public works. The Living New Deal NYC’s Working Group is determined to raise public awareness of that incomparable ten-year period via tours, panel discussions, social and traditional media, and our signage project, which aims to design and mount signs at New Deal legacy sites across the five boroughs of the city.
Who We Are
In the spring of 2018, a diverse group of New Yorkers—all ardent fans of the New Deal—came together to form a Working Group charged with bringing public attention to the New Deal’s stunning achievements in the city.
Until the arrival of COVID-19 on our shores, we were meeting once a month at Roosevelt House, a gracious yet modest townhouse on East 65th Street that was home to Franklin and Eleanor during the early days of their marriage. Today, it is part of the Hunter College campus, with Deborah Gardner serving as curator and historian-in-residence. We count ourselves fortunate indeed that Gardner is a member of our Working Group.
All of us dearly hope to meet again in person, once it is safe to do so. But our work continues. In fact, it sustains us.
A special project of the Living New Deal, we’ve built our forces with the help of the organization’s California founders and also through our own networking efforts. The Working Group started out with a half a dozen members, a number that has more than doubled over time, and we’ve also continued to forge relationships with a broad network of like-minded individuals and organizations, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA New York), City Lore, the Museum of the City of New York, FDR Library, and the National Jobs for All Network, among others.
The NYC Team
Ruth Messinger, Advisor
Born and raised in New York City, Ruth Messinger imbibed her parents’ passion for FDR and especially for the New Deal as a model for what government could and should do. Her long career as a social worker, celebrated New York City politician, and honored social justice leader reflects and magnifies that passion.
At Harvard University, she was inspired by one of her professors, who started every class saying, “I told Franklin….”—a phrase that seemed to connect her to a living past. Read more
To join our efforts as an adviser, institutional partner, supporter, or active member of the NYC working group, please contact us at [email protected].
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