Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #69

Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919)

69 Theodore Roosevelt

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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1 Comment

  1. A candy store owner from Brooklyn, Morris Michtom made a plush (soft) toy bear and sent it to President Theodore Roosevelt to celebrate the birth of the president’s daughter, Alice.
    The making of that soft toy led to the development of the Ideal Toy Company that was one of the lions of the industry from the early 40s to the 80s. Among Ideal’s great hits were the game Mouse Trap, dolls that did “things” like Betsy Wetsy, Bibsy and Kissy. The pinnacle of Ideal’s success was probably the Rubik’s Cube. A sidebar – George Willig, the man who walked up the face of the World Trade Center worked in the design department of Ideal when it was located in Hollis, Queens. Alice Roosevelt, a rapier tongued beauty famous for her lovely blue gown and a song that celebrated it married Nicholas Longworth who was Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1925-31. A House office building is named for him.

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