Fifty years ago today, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated. Most people travel to Massachusetts or Texas to remember President Kennedy. Despite not having a direct link to the President, New York City possesses a number of sites associated with and memorials to JFK and we explore some of them below.
1. 277 Park Avenue Apartment
Image Source: Library of Congress
In 1957, John and Robert Kennedy used two floors of the McKim, Mead, and White designed 277 Park Avenue as offices for JFK’s 1960 presidential campaign. It was there that the plan was crafted to beat Vice President Richard Nixon, the incumbent. The apartment building was replaced by a skyscraper, read more on our Daily What?! Coverage of 277 Park Avenue)
2. Happy Birthday Mr. President at Madison Square Garden
On May 19, 1962, Kennedy celebrated his forty-fifth birthday at (the third) Madison Square Garden, on 8th Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets. Marilyn Monroe famously performed a sultry rendition of Happy Birthday, Mr. President wearing a now famous dress into which she had to be sewn.
3. East Coast War Memorial
New York City possesses one of the American Battle Monument Commission’s three memorials located in the United States. The Commission was created in 1923 and is the government agency responsible for “designing, constructing, operating and maintaining permanent American cemeteries in foreign countries and establishing and maintaining U.S. military memorials, monuments and markers where American armed forces have served overseas since April 6, 1917.” The East Coast War Memorial is located in Battery Park and was dedicated on May 23, 1963 by President John F. Kennedy.
4. JFK Tree in Brooklyn
5. John F. Kennedy International Airport
Inside the TWA Flight Center opened during Kennedy’s presidency in 1962
Kennedy Airport was constructed in 1943 (as Idlewild Airport) in order to relieve overcrowding at LaGuardia Airport. The Airport was home to the Pan-Am Worldport Terminal and is still home to the Saarinen designed TWA Flight Center. On December 24, 1963, Idewild was rededicated John F. Kennedy International Airport, one of the first memorials to JFK in NYC.
6. Grand Army Plaza
On May 31, 1965, Memorial Day, a bust of John F. Kennedy was unveiled in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza. Attendees at the ceremony included Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Ethel Kennedy, Mayor Robert Wagner, and Borough President Abe Stark along with 20,000 people. The bust was designed by Neil Estern and was supposed to include an eternal flame. However, that idea was nixed by Jackie Kennedy, who only wanted one eternal flame for her husband, in Arlington National Cemetery. On October 6, 2003, the bust was taken away and after a long saga, a new larger bronze bust was dedicated in 2010.
7. Kennedy King Playground
Brownsville contains the only park named after JFK. The Kennedy shares the honor with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. According to the Parks Department, the park was named after both individuals because they were two twentieth-century icons.
The exhibit JFK November 22, 1963: A Bystander’s View of History is focused on this historic moment as the dawn of “citizen journalism,” as innocent bystanders brought along personal cameras (a luxury at the time) to capture a shot of the president. By happenstance, these civilians were the first on scene to document one of the biggest scandals in the country’s history. ICP has put together a myriad of first images from that day
Take a look back at previous JFK coverage on Untapped Cities, including his 1960 Presidential Campaign in NYC, behind the scenes at at the new documentary One PM Standard Time, and JFK’s Park Avenue apartment.