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 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.
Now a Chapter of the Living New Deal, we’ve built our forces with the help of the organization’s California founders and 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. We’ve 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.
Prof. Marta Gutman first encountered the New Deal during the late 1950s, when she was four years old. Her father took her to a public swimming pool located in Astoria Park in Queens—one of the five boroughs of New York City—close to the family’s apartment, and gave his daughter her first swimming lessons there. Read more
Deborah, a founding member of the NYC Working Group, grew up in a New Deal-oriented household. Her mother went to Hunter College and her father went to City College, which were tuition free back then. Both came of age during the 1930s, and both benefited from the institutions of higher learning that helped many first- and second-generation immigrants move up in the world. Read more
Jeff Gold is an urbanist who has earned his living as an acquisitions editor, a partner at new media partnership JIA, and director of the Institute for Rational Urban Mobility (IRUM), an eco-transport nonprofit. He also chairs the steering committee of the Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign and serves on the board of the National Jobs for All Network. And he’s active in electoral politics at the local, state, and national level. Read more
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
Adam Roberts has packed a lot of politics into his young life.
He grew up on Long Island in a family of “proud New Dealers.” At home, FDR was worshipped, he says. It didn’t take long for Roberts to find his calling, and both nature and nurture helped him get there.
During his teens, he dreamed of becoming a dentist, but that dream would soon be replaced by one better suited to his talents and temperament. Read more
To join our efforts as an adviser, institutional partner, supporter, or active member of the NYC Chapter of the Living New Deal, please contact us at [email protected].
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Check out our latest map and guide to the work of the New Deal in Washington, D.C. It includes 500 New Deal sites in the District alone, highlighting 34 notable sites, and includes an inset map of the area around the National Mall which can be used for self-guided walking tours.
Take a look at our previous guides, equally comprehensive, covering key New Deal sites in San Francisco and New York City.