The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #69
Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919)
The only New York City native to become President of the United States was Theodore Roosevelt. Following in his father’s footsteps as a leader in cultural institutions, contributing to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and (more famously) the American Museum of Natural History, Roosevelt got an early start in public service, becoming a State Assemblyman at the age of 24. As Police Commissioner, he radically reformed the most corrupt police department in the nation, and responded to Jacob Riis’ How the Other Half Lives with visibly enthusiastic help, often personally walking officers’ beats in some of the city’s more dangerous areas. While the bulk of Roosevelt’s fame is as a national figure, stretching far outside the confines of the city, his strong belief in forestry and conservation ultimately led the creation of the National Parks Service (though not during his own administration). Today, the museum that commemorates his birthplace in Manhattan is managed by the NPS.
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