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Guide to the George McAneny Papers
1885-1989
 MS 2963

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Sophie Glidden-Lyon

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on May 06, 2015
Description is in English

Biographical/Historical note

Born Christmas Eve, 1869, George Francis McAneny was a newspaperman, lifelong civil servant and municipal reformer in New York City. After graduating from high school in New Jersey, McAneny moved to New York to report for the New York World and began his work in civil service as the executive secretary of the National Civil Service Reform League in 1892, a non-profit devoted to promoting efficiency and anti-corruption reform in government. Over the course of his career he served the public in a variety of roles: as the Manhattan Borough President in 1910; chairman of the State Transit Committee, which helped create the early foundations for today’s Subway system, in 1811; President of the Board of Aldermen in 1913; and as acting mayor during the absence of Mayor John Purroy Mitchel during that same year. With government reform and city planning always in mind, McAneny advocated vigorously for protecting public spaces and historical preservation. During his term as Manhattan Borough President, he restored 500,000 square feet of land to public use, and in the later years of his life, aided in the preservation of Fort Clinton, prevented the construction of a courthouse in City Hall Park, and was responsible for zoning ordinances which focused on building height. In 1933, he served as city comptroller. Additionally, he was one of the founders and the first president of the World’s Fair of 1939 and 1940 and served as the President of American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. McAneny married Marjorie Jacobi and they had six children, Ruth, Elizabeth, Herbert, Arnold, Ernest and David. At the time of McAneny’s death in 1953, he had nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Some of the material in this collection relates to McAneny’s oldest son, Herbert (1903-1993). Herbert McAneny taught English and Theater at Milton Academy, Princeton Country Day and Princeton Day School in New Jersey. He spent the last 40 years of his life in Princeton, serving as president of the historical society, and as a founding member of the Princeton Community Players. He was an avid outdoorsman with a passion for the Adirondacks. His interest in theater was shared by his wife, Marguerite Loud McAneny, who served as General Manager of Princeton's McCarter Theater, officer of the Princeton Community Players, curator of the Princeton University Library Theatre Collection, and President of the Theatre Library Association. They had three children, Leslie, Wendy and Colin.