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HISTORY OF THE ROTARY CLUB OF NEW YORK
CLUB #6 – “HOST CLUB OF AMERICA”
 
On February 23rd, 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 24th, 1909 the Rotary Club of New York was formed. There were 15 charter members and Bradford Bullock was elected President. Bradford Bullock served as President for two years.
 
The Honorary member of this Club was Paul Harris, elected at the initial meeting of the New York Rotary on August 24th, 1909.
 
Since there were no established requirements for weekly meetings, Club #6 held dinner meetings semi-monthly, the second and fourth Thursdays, rotating the meeting to different restaurants and hotels.
 
It is interesting to note that the Club’s chief slogan was:
 
“Rotary Club of New York: Composed of members 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 objects: 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.
 
On September 14th, 1909, the Rotary Club of New York was incorporated under the laws of the State of New York.
 
The first lapel pin in the history of the Rotary was designed and made by NY Club member, John Frick on October 14th, 1909 and worn by President Bradford Bullock from 1909 to 1911. The pin was presented to the Club and is now on display in the Club office. This was the forerunner of the traditional Rotary pin work today.
 
August Janssen, Proprietor of the Hofbrau House, the first permanent location where luncheons were held, presented the Club with the first Rotary banner in 1914. It was a gigantic size, navy blue background with a white Rotary wheel in the center. The banner was on display outside the Hofbrau on meetings days.
 
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 luncheons 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. In 2014 the Club moved to the Union League Club and is now currently meeting at the Penn Club of NYC. Prior to that from 2010 forward meetings took place at the Princeton Club, Harvard Club and 3 West Club.
 
In 1919 a New York Rotarian visited the Rotary Club of London and presented the Club with a banner, which he designed and made. This very act was the forerunner of the exchange of club banners with takes place daily throughout the world of Rotary.
 
Beginning in 1918. The Rotary Club of New York for several years presented a silk American flag to each Club outside of the United States. These flags marked the promotion of cordial relationships between the Clubs of other countries and our Club and the other Rotary Clubs of the United States. This very special deed was recognized in 1919 by a special resolution at the convention of Rotary International.
 
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 constitution and by-laws. Paul Harris noted, “No one is in a better position to realize the great contribution of the Rotary Club of New York made in the development phase of Rotary International.”
 
Twice the Club served as host of the International Convention, in 1949 and again in 1959.
 
One of the greatest tributes bestowed upon New York Rotary Club came when Paul Harris, in a speech before the Club in 1934, designated the Club as the “Host of America.
 
A prized possession of the Club was the “Attention Bell,” won in an attendance contest with the Rotary Club on 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 17th, 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.
 
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 improving the quality of life in and around New York City.
 
History reveals that the Rotary Club of New York not only did the normal community service projects that we do today but has always searched for the really big projects and has always had a reputation for doing the big things.
 
The Rotary Club of New York is very proud to be the 6th club in Rotary, which now has grown to more than 35,000 clubs with 1.2 million members. Since its establishment, thousands of Rotarians from Clubs around the world and the USA have visited the Rotary Club of New York luncheons over the years.
 
 
 
 
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