Hall of Fame for Great Americans Introduction

About the Hall of Fame for Great American, history and information about the collection of great men and women.


On the campus of Bronx Community College is located the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. The Hall of Fame is on a terrace with an open-air colonnade 630 ft. long and about 25 ft. high. Along the sides of the walkway are busts of the illustrious dead who comprise the membership of the Hall of Fame.

The first selections for entry were made in 1900. At present, there are 102 men and women so honored.

The idea for the Hall of Fame for Great Americans was proposed in 1899 by Henry M. Mac-Cracken (1840-1918), then chancellor of New York University. His desire was to commemorate the contributions of those Americans who have made significant achievements in various fields. Valuable financial support came from Helen Gould, a daughter of the 19th-century financier Jay Gould. During her lifetime she gave more than $2 million to the Hall of Fame.

Anyone who is a U.S. citizen can recommend selections for the Hall of Fame. There are only two stipulations for candidacy: (1) the nominee must have been an American citizen and lived in America, and (2) the nominee must have been dead at least 25 years. (Under these broad standards, John Wilkes Booth and Al Capone are eligible.)

The names are then placed on a ballot and submitted to the college of electors, chosen from varied walks of life and having at least one representative from each state. The number of electors has varied from less than 100 to nearly 150 in any given election year. From 1900 to 1920 and 1950 to 1973 a majority of the votes from the electors was necessary for selection, but from 1925 to 1940 the requirement was a three-fifths vote. (See 1976 for the current method.) Even if someone is approved by the electors, that choice is susceptible to a veto by the New York University Faculty Senate, although this has never occurred. The senate selects the electors and fills voids if an elector should resign or die.

From 1900 to 1970 the elections were held every five years, but beginning in 1973, choices have been made every three years.

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