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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Teddy Roosevelt

Today marks the 152nd birthday of our twenty-sixth president, Theodore Roosevelt, the only U.S. president to be born and raised in New York City.

Roosevelt was born in a brownstone at 28 East 20th Street and today if you go to that address, you will find a double brownstone run by the National Parks Service as the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace. However, despite the plaque out front that claims that the house was "restored" in 1923, it is, in fact, not the house that Teddy grew up in.

Roosevelt lived in a home at this address from 1858 to 1872, when the family moved uptown. The original home was demolished in 1916. Teddy died just three years later and, as we note in Inside the Apple:
"The New York State legislature chartered the Woman’s Roosevelt Memorial Association a mere 23 days after Roosevelt’s death. By mid March, the organization had purchased the building that had gone up in place of T.R.’s boyhood home as well as the property next door, which had been owned by Roosevelt’s uncle, Robert. Their plan was to “restore” the houses as they would have looked in 1865, based on the “description written by Colonel Roosevelt in his autobiography.” What this meant, in practice, was tearing the buildings down and starting from scratch. In 1923, the newly built home was opened to the public and was praised as a “shrine to American patriotism.” But nice as the reconstructed home may have been, it was no match for Gutzon Borglum’s ultimate tribute to T.R., which would commence construction by the end of the decade: Mount Rushmore."
If you are down in the Gramercy Park/Flatiron area today, swing by the house--admission is free.  And if you in that neighborhood on Saturday, there’s a free concert at 2:00 p.m. celebrating Roosevelt’s accomplishments as a naturalist.

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Read more about Theodore Roosevelt in


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