DECEMBER 15, 1944
WASHINGTON, Thursday —There is no subject today which I think is creating more interest than our housing problems. I am getting more and more plans sent me which might be termed ideas and dreams for the future in this field. Among others, a well-known New York architect sent me a plan for rebuilding all the areas in the big cities as they reach a point where they are no longer profitable because patching up becomes too expensive.
This man would build the new areas with every apartment facing an open space, and he has thought of rather a nice name for these new housing projects. He suggests that they should be called "Cities for Heroes."
Anyone who reads the papers, with their daily chronicle of innumerable heroic deeds done by our men in different parts of the world, knows that many of them are going to return to big cities in various parts of this country. Their earning capacity may be small at first, or it may be large. Their progress in civilian life may be slow or rapid, but it will not alter the fact that in the war they were heroes, and all of them are entitled to the best that we can give them in the way of living space.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City is holding a city-wide essay contest, among the high schools, on how our national capital was created. Each Thursday, excluding Christmas week, until February 15th, when the contest ends, at the Academy gallery on Broadway between 155th and 156th Streets, there will be a full color movie shown from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., and a lecture and exhibit on the growth of Washington, D.C. This is to provide the background material for the contest, and at the Academy gallery there is an additional exhibit showing the plans and models of the city from 1732 to the present day, including original maps and sketches by L'Enfant, President Washington's selected sites for avenues and public buildings, and President Jefferson's proposed changes.
I think this is a most interesting contest, because it will enable our young people to gain a better understanding of the imagination and the initiative of the men who made these plans, as well as of the conditions under which they began and the manner in which the changes have come about with the years. One can hardly make such a study without becoming aware of the tremendous changes in our whole way of life during this period, and I should think that this is an idea which might well be nationally used for high school students.
In New York City, the two best essays will be judged by a committee of three from the institute, and the prizes will be given in war bonds. In some communities it might be more difficult to get competent judges and to provide the necessary prizes. But I think war stamps and bonds can be found for this purpose in almost any community, and the judges will probably enjoy educating themselves!