CLUB #6 - "HOST CLUB OF AMERICA"
On February 23, 1905, on Dearborn Street in Chicago the miracle happened - Rotary was born. The Chicago Club was Club#1. Rotary moved west and San Francisco became Club #2 in 1908; then Oakland was chartered a couple months later as Club #3; followed by Seattle #4; and Los Angeles #5. Rotary was on the move, but there was no Rotary Club on the East Coast. The idea of forming a Rotary Club in New York came in a message to Elmer DePue in New York, not from Paul Harris but from Clarence J. Wetmore, member of the Rotary Club of San Francisco. Elmer was the President of the Eastern Division of the Cresta Blanca Wine Company. In an effort to start the wheels rolling, Elmer consulted with Daniel Cady of New York who, as a close friend of Paul Harris, agreed to talk with Paul. Paul Harris dispatched Fred Tweed of Chicago to talk with Cady, DePue and Bradford Bullock at a meeting held on August 18, 1909. Six days later on August 24, 1909, the Rotary Club of New York was formed as the first Rotary Club on the East Coast. There were 15 charter members and Bradford Bullock was elected President. Bradford Bullock served as President for two years.
It is interesting to note that the Club's chief slogan was: "Rotary Club of New York: Composed of men who are old enough to know how to do business, and young enough to want more business to do.”
- At that time,
there were three objectives:
- 1) Promotion of
the business interests of the members;
2) Advance the best interests of New York; and
3) Spread the spirit of the city pride and loyalty among its citizens.
The first permanent meeting place was the Hofbrau House. In 1917 the Club moved to the McAlpin Hotel. In 1926 the Club moved to the Waldorf Astoria. In 1929 a move was made to the Hotel Commodore and in 1974 meetings were held at the Roosevelt Hotel. In every case, the Club's office was always located in the hotel in which the Club met. In 1991 the Club moved its Thursday luncheon meetings to the Marriott East Side Hotel, but kept the office at the Roosevelt. In 2000 the club moved its luncheon meetings to the Princeton Club and at the same time changed the meeting day to Tuesdays.
In 1919 a New York Rotarian visited the Rotary Club of London and presented that Club with a banner which he designed and made. This very act was the forerunner of the exchange of club banners which takes place daily throughout the world of Rotary.
The Rotary Club of New York participated in the founding of the National Association of Rotary Clubs in Chicago in 1910. The delegates from the NY Club brought to the convention a draft constitution, which became the basis of the first constitution and by-laws of what is now Rotary International's present day constitution and by-laws. New York's President. Ray Knoeppel, served as the Chairman of the committee that rendered the final draft of both the first constitution and by-laws. Paul Harris noted "No one is in a better position to realize the great contribution the Rotary Club of New York made in the developmental phase of Rotary International than me." Over 60,000 Rotarians from clubs around the world and the USA have visited NY Rotary luncheons over the last 88 years. Twice the Club served as host of the International Convention, in 1949 and again in 1959. A prime interest of the Club in the early years had been youth activities with an emphasis on the handicapped. Today the Club shares the same interest, but also allocates its funds and energy, serving senior citizens, the homeless and improving the quality of Life in and around New York City.
One of the greatest tributes bestowed upon New York Rotary came when Paul Harris, in a speech before the Club in1934, designated the Club as the "Host Club of America." A prized possession of the Club was the "Attention Bell," won in an attendance contest with the Rotary Club of London in 1922. The bell was from the British auxiliary warship, "Patrol No. 20," and was mounted on oak timber from Admiral Nelson’s flagship, "Victory." The original bell was stolen during a fire in the Colonial Room at the Roosevelt Hotel in 1978. Today's bell was obtained from the Rotary Club of London in 1992. The bell is also from a British ship, a submarine chaser, the "H.M.S. P20." It was presented to the club by Ken Standish, President of the London Club on June 17, 1992. The Club's welcome song, Fellow Rotarians, We Greet You, written by club member Johnny Shays, was copyrighted in 1945 and has been sung continually since that time. John Shays died in April of 1970. History reveals that New York Rotary not only did the normal community service projects that we do today, but we searched for the really big projects and had a reputation for doing the big things.
In 1917, we contributed a dozen WWI ambulance to the war effort.
In 1921, a call went out to the whole of North America as NY Rotary put on billboards across the country advertising the message of then-President Warren Harding: "Prosperity will be realized when we put people back to work"
In 1926, a full summer cap was built on Fire Island for crippled children, Camp Cheerful. Although extremely successful, it was unfortunately destroyed in the 1935 hurricane.
From 1960 to 1970, New York Rotary hosted the Lambert Trophies ceremonies. This was then taken over by the New Jersey Sports Authority and is now held at Giant Stadium.
In 1968, the Club raised $1 million and renovated a court house and jail on the west side known as Hell's Kitchen. This building became the Clinton Youth Center, and the building and its program were then donated to the YM-YWCA and became part of the YM-YWCA Outreach Programs.
From 1978 to 1980, New York Rotary was host to 1400 Rotarians in what was called an Annual Area Assembly.
Rotarians came to New York for this one-day seminar from 17 Districts in eight of the surrounding states.
1991 to 1992, New York Rotary worked with the Sanitation Department of New York City in a program to introduce school children to the City's Recycling Program. The Club has 800,000 buttons made up which, when presented to the children made them official recycling agents of the City of New York. Rotarians spend many hours in assembly programs in schools throughout the City making these awards.
1989 to 1997, the NY Rotary Golf and Tennis Classic has raised over $50,000 for both Muscular Dystrophy and the Boy Scouts of Greater New York. This major club activity involves a great many club members in a very worthwhile and memorable project.
Some of the most recent accomplishments are as follows:
Rotarians served as volunteer teachers for the Junior Achievement program at
PS 175 to assist students in establishing self-sufficient business enterprises.
Rotarians contributed $40,000 over a three year period to fund this
· Rotarians contributed $28,000 to establish a computer lab program at PS 175 through the purchase of 22 computers.
· Rotary Club, through its annual Golf and Tennis Outings, raised $8,000 for the Boy Scout's Handicapped Campers program.
· Rotary Club donated $6,000 to the New York City Police Department to purchase bicycles for its innovative bike patrol program.
· For the third consecutive year, the Rotary Club provided $20,000 to fund the Columbia Writing and Reading Project at PS 199.
· Rotarians, through the Blanket Day Project, were able to buy 300 blankets for the homeless.
· Rotarians purchased 800,000 recycling button for use by the New York City's Department of Sanitation for its recycling program.
· Each year the Rotary Club of New York hosts Policeman and Fireman Recognition Days. At these luncheons, a member of each department is presented with the New York Rotary Club's "Outstanding Service Award"