Friday, April 9, 2010

From the Archives: History of Bryant Park Fencing

Did you know we have an Archivist on staff at Bryant Park Corporation? In this post, BPC’s resident historian, Anne Kumer, shares a piece of the park’s rich history.

Bryant Park Fencing begins today at 1pm! Our brand new series of free fencing lessons are conducted in partnership with the Manhattan Fencing Center, and take place on the front terrace of the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 41st Street.

The Library Terrace, part of the Bryant Park landscape, seemed like the ideal location to host fencing lessons for both its length and spaciousness, as well as a little bit of history…

Just a few feet away, at the base of the North flagpole, is a plaque in honor of former New York City Mayor John Purroy Mitchel.

Mitchel was elected Mayor of New York City at age 34 in 1914. During his term he introduced a wide range of reforms over city government and policy, including the maintenance and regulation of publicly funded, privately run institutions, such as orphanages, schools, and hospitals.

After losing his re-election campaign to Democrat John Francis Hylan in 1917, Mitchel enlisted in the United States Army Air Service. He died three weeks before his thirty-ninth birthday in a training accident in Gerstner Field, Louisiana on July 6, 1918.

What does this have to do with Bryant Park Fencing? Long before his political career, while in college at Fordham University and later at Columbia University, Mayor Mitchel was a fencer!

When we discovered this information we knew the Library Terrace was the perfect location for our new park program.

Bryant Park Fencing
Fridays, 1:00pm - 2:00pm
April 9 -  June 25
Library Terrace at 5th Avenue & 41st Street

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