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George McAneny

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Biography

George McAneny was a prominent New York City civil servant. He was born in Greenville, New Jersey in 1869. After high school, he began a career in journalism. He later became involved in civic affairs, and held multiple public positions1. McAneny also co-authored the revised State Civil Service Law, which was signed in 1899. He died in 19532.

www.princeton.edu/~muddMcAneny's biography by Jessica Marati, 2008.

Oral History

"The Reminisces of George McAneny," a series of interviews held by Professor Allen Nevins and Mr. Dean Albertson, January-February 1949. Under the auspices of the Oral History Research Office of Columbia University. Permission to quote or cite from the transcript must be obtained from this office.

Offices Held

  • President of the City Club of New York, 1906-1909
  • Manhattan Borough President, 1910-1913
  • President of the Board of Aldermen, 1914-1916
  • Executive Officer of the New York Civil Service Commission, 1902
  • Secretary of the New York Civil Service Reform League
  • Chairman of the New York State Transit Commissio, 1921-1926
  • President of the Regional Plan Association, 1930-1953
  • President of American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society
  • President of Title Guarantee and Trust Company, 1934-1936
  • Chairman of World's Fair Corporation, 1935-1936

George McAneny engaged in several preservation campaigns over the course of his life.

- In 1913, George McAneny helped save the Edgar Allen Poe Cottage in the Bronx3.

- As Borough President, he provided funding to rebuild St. John’s Chapel's portico, which temporarily spared it from destruction during the widening of Varick Street4.

- He played a role in the restoration of City Hall5.

- In his role as the president of the Regional Plan Association, George McAneny was a significant player in the effort to oppose Robert Moses’ proposed Battery-Brooklyn Bridge. He advised the Central Committee of Organizations Opposing the Battery Bridge6.

- McAneny led the campaign to save Castle Clinton.

- He wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times, asserting the historical significance of the fort7. Then during his term as President of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, he offered to have the historical organizations that were involved with the effort to save Castle Clinton raise the funds that were needed to restore it. However, Robert Moses successfully defeated this motion8. McAneny carried on the fight for the preservation of Castle Clinton until it was established as a national monument9.

- McAneny drew up the United State's first zoning ordinances10.

- He was an organizer and the first president of the Regional Plan Association11.

- He co-founded the National Trust for Historic Preservation12.

- He served as President of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society.

- In 1952 George McAneny passed away leaving the torchlight of the preservation movement to be passed on to his daughter, Ruth McAneny Loud13. She joined the Municipal Art Society in 1954 and would eventually be the first woman to head the organization14.

Archives, Personal files, and Ephemura

George McAneny Papers
Seely G. Mudd Manuscript Library
Princeton UniversityPrinceton, N.J.
Finding Aid is available on-line: www.princeton.edu/~mudd
Phone: (609)258-6345
Fax: (609)258-3385
  • 1. From Princeton University's Website for the special collection.
  • 2. Elkington, Howard. "Tribute to George McAneny; Record of His Accomplishments is Memorialized," The New York Times; August 15, 1953.
  • 3. Anthony C. Wood. Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect A City's Landmarks. (New York: Routledge, 2007). Page 53.
  • 4. Randall F. Mason. "Memory Infrastructure: Preservation, 'Improvement,' and Landscape in New York City, 1898-1925." Unpublished dissertation, Columbia University, 1999. Pages 149, 155; Gregory F. Gilmartin. Shaping the City: New York and the Municipal Art Society. New York: Clarkson Potter, 1995. Page 335.
  • 5. Anthony C. Wood. Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect A City's Landmarks. (New York: Routledge, 2007). Page 53.
  • 6. Ibid., 48.
  • 7. R.W.G. Vail, George McAneny, et al, Letter to the Editor, New York Times, September 20, 1945.
  • 8. "Board Acts to get land for Center," New York Times, October 12, 1945.
  • 9. Herald Tribune, July 30, 1953.
  • 10. Ibid.
  • 11. Ibid.
  • 12. Ibid.
  • 13. Anthony C. Wood. Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect A City's Landmarks. (New York: Routledge, 2007). Page 147.
  • 14. Gilmartin, Gregory F. Shaping the City: New York and the Municipal Art Society (New York: Random House, 1995). Page 379.