Question: What Constitutes A New Yorker? 1907 Part IV

Remarkable study of America’s Metropolis reveals many strange facts in the makeup of its citizenship, from which it appears that the Native born New Yorker is surprisingly scarce in the city.
Jacob H. Schiff, head of the banking house of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., was born in Frankfort-on-Main, Germany. He came to New York to seek his fortune just after the civil war, when 18 years old, and has lived here ever since.

James Speyer of Speyer & Co. is a native New Yorker. He was educated in Frankfort-on-Main, began his business career in his father's bank in that city, and was also in banks in London and Paris before he returned to this city at the age of 24 to go into business here.

There is another class of ruling Americans, however, who demand attention. They are the New Yorkers who come here as successful men, and usually as multi-millionaires, and who find in the metropolis the most concentrated market-place for their business and the most convenient place of residence. It is these Americans who do much toward making New York one of the richest and most luxurious cities in the world. They outnumber those who have made their fortunes here. Millionaires are so numerous indeed that it is out of the question to mention them all. So a few conspicuous examples have been selected, each to illustrate some phase of the subject.

To this class, for example, belongs John D. Rockefeller. Born in Richford, Tioga County, N.Y., he may be looked upon as a Cleveland man, for in that city he built the great fabric of Standard Oil.

James J. Hill, railroad king and master of the Great Northern System, is in about the same category. He is a native of Canada. His home is in St. Paul, Minn., but he has another residence on upper Fifth Avenue, and probably spends as much time in New York every year as do the leaders in fashionable society.

Most of the United States Steel coterie came here as successful men and multi-millionaires. Andrew Carnegie of Skibo Castle and New York, is a native of Dunfermline, Scotland, and a Pittsburg man by adoption. Mr. Carnegie has spent at least twenty; years here intermittently. For a while he lived with his mother at the Windsor Hotel. Later he had a house on Fifty-first Street, just off Fifth Avenue. His present mansion was erected about eight years ago.

Henry C. Frick may be said to be even more of an indefinite quantity as a New Yorker. Born in Westmoreland County, Penn., he has spent most of his life in and near Pittsburg. When he leased one of the Vanderbilt houses two years ago, it was said that he was deserting Pittsburg to make New York his permanent home. Then it was reported that he would not be here permanently. His recent purchase of a box at the Metropolitan Opera House and the site of the Lenox Library, presumably for a fine house places him among the New Yorkers.

Charles M. Schwab's chateau on Riverside Drive, finished less than two years ago, should also make him a New Yorker. He has said, however, that he looks on Braddock, Penn., the little town where he began life as a penniless boy, as his real "home." For years his name has been as intimately connected with Pittsburg and his country house at Loretta, Penn., as with the metropolis.

William E. Corey, another Pittsburg man, has also become a New Yorker, for since he married Mabelle Gilman and spent his honeymoon at their country place, Chateau Villegenes, near Paris, he and Mrs. Corey have returned to this city and settled down in their house, 803 Fifth Avenue.

Of the great merchants, Henry Siegel, President of the Simpson-Crawford Company, is a native of Eubigheim, Germany. He came to this country in 1867 when 25 years old, and was a highly successful business man in Chicago before he removed to New York eleven years ago to quickly become a leader in the metropolis.

Isidor and Nathan Straus, the brothers who own the Macy establishment, were both born in Rhenish, Bavaria. Practically all of their business life, however, has been spent in this city.

Like Henry Siegel, John Wanamaker came here as a successful business man. Born in Philadelphia, he was, a man of 58, many times a millionaire and the foremost merchant of the Pennsylvania city when he opened his New York store in 1896.

William Sloane, President of the firm of W. & J. Sloane, is an exception to the rule, in that he is a native of the city who has spent all of his business life here.

Men who come to New York on the strength of their fame elsewhere are also notably frequent among the rulers of the city in an industrial way. Passing to the traction interests, the Belmonts__August, Perry, and Oliver H.P. are all New Yorkers born, of American families long distinguished. But President Theodore P. Shonts of the Interborough is an exception in point. A Pennsylvanian, of Dutch and Scotch-Irish stock, he came to New York early this year on the strength of his reputation as a Western railroad man, President of the "Clover Leaf" Railroad system and Chairman of the Isthmian Canal Commission.

George S. Rice, Chief Engineer for the Public Service Commission, is a Boston man. He may be said to have become a new Yorker in 1887, when he was made Deputy Chief Engineer of the Croton Aqueduct. He was afterward Chief Engineer of the Boston Rapid Transit Commission and an instructor at Harvard, but came back to New York in 1900 to associate himself with the rapid transit movement.

President William H. Newman of the New York Central system is a Virginian by birth. He made his reputation during more than 30 years on railroads in Texas and the Middle West, working his way up from station agent to chief executive. He was 54 years old when he was elected to his present place and became a New Yorker.

Like President Newman, the Vice President and General Manager of the system, A.H. Smith, has risen up from the bottom of the ladder. It took Mr. Smith 27 years, working in shops, running engines, laying out new lines, building bridges, and acting as Division Superintendent, to earn his present place as a prominent New Yorker.

The general rule of birth and achievement outside of the city, thus illustrated in financiers, public officials, and business men is even more true of the clergy, the artists, and the heads of great public institutions.

Archbishop Farley, of the Roman Catholic Church, was born in Ireland and was ordained a priest in Rome 37 years ago. Since then his labors have all been in this diocese.

Bishop H.C. Potter, of the Protestant Episcopal Church, is a native of Schenectady, but was educated in Philadelphia and Virginia. He served as rector of churches in Greensburg, Penn., Troy, and Boston before he came to New York as rector of Grace Church in 1868. Since then he has resided constantly in this city.

Bishop Coadjutor Greer has been a resident of New York since 1888, when he became rector of St. Bartholomew's. He is a native of Wheeling, West Va., was educated in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and served as rector in churches, in Clarksburg, West Va., Covington, Ky. and Providence, R.I., before he came here.

Bishop Andrews, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, a native of New Hartford, N.Y., has also been a resident of this city since 1888. His services have extended, however, to the Oneida Conference, Cazenovia Seminary, India, Mexico, Japan, Korea, and China.

The Rev. Newell Dwight Hillis, Pastor of Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, was called to that pulpit eight years ago from the Central Church, Chicago. He was born in Iowa and up to the time of his appearance here had spent the 12 years of his ministry in Illinois.

Dr. Charles H. Parkhurst has been a New Yorker for 27 years. He came to the Madison Square Presbyterian Church from Lenox. Mass. His birthplace and his services as teacher and pastor had all been in that State.

The extreme cases of New York offering her treasure to men of recognized achievement are probably found among the men of genius in an artistic or intellectual sense.

William Dean Howells has been more closely associated with the city. He came here from Ohio, by way of a reporter's berth, an editor's desk, and a consularo at Venice. Mr. Howells was a man of 28 when he began his New York editorial duties in 1865 as a writer for The Times.

Sir Caspar Purdon Clarke, Director of the Metropolitan Museum, for example, has been in New York two years. But when he came, forty years of achievement in English galleries stretched behind him, and he was a man who had passed his half-century mark.

Dr. William H. Maxwell, City Superintendent of Schools, is an Irishman by birth. He was educated in Ireland, and taught in schools in Belfast. He came to America when 22 years old to be successively a newspaper reporter, editor, lecturer, and school executive.

President John Juston Finley of the City College is a native of Illinois. He was President of Knox College, a magazine editor in this city for eight years, and a Professor at Princeton for three years before he took his present position, four years ago.

Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, President of Columbia, can be set down among the New Yorkers of long standing. He is a native of Elizabeth, N.J.



Website: The History
Article Name: Question: What Constitutes A New Yorker? 1907 Part IV
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The New York Times November 17, 1907
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