Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #83

Henry Clay Frick (1849 – 1919)

83 Henry Clay Frick

New York has always attracted the rich and powerful titans of industry. The coke supplier to Andrew Carnegie’s steel company, Henry Clay Frick, was no exception. But Pennsylvania native Frick’s place one of the great New Yorkers is earned, not for his business acumen, but for his personal hobby: art collecting. Upon his death, Frick bequeathed his lavish Fifth Avenue mansion and its entire art collection to the city for the creation of one of our greatest art museum. Filling his home with masterpieces by Rembrandt, Turner, Vermeer, and other greats, Frick taught high society how to collect tastefully. Not merely seeking objects d’art for the sake of accumulation, Frick said he collected “paintings that are pleasant to live with”. And today, all New Yorkers get the chance to live with them for the length of an afternoon.

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2 Comments

  1. Coke? Interesting. Must be what kept the workers happy!

  2. When talking about Henry Clay Frick and how he made a fortune in coke I indicate that it is not the soft drink, nor Bolivian Marching Powder but soft coal used in the steel making process. One beverage connection to Frick was the joint ownership with another Pittsburgh financial titan, Andrew Mellon of one of the oldest distilleries in the US, Old Overholt. The distillery produces a 100 proof (50% alcohol) straight rye whiskey under the distillery name Happy workers at the Homestead Steel Works that Frick co-owned with Andrew Carnegie would be an oxymoron.
    Frick hired goons to break a strike at the Homestead plant. His brutal tactics angered activist and anarchist, Alexander Berkman so that Berkman assaulted Frick with knife and gun.
    Berkman was deported to Russia along with his lover and fellow anarchist, Emma Goldman

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