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Harry Frank Guggenheim

Guggenheim, Harry Frank

Naval Aviator
Enshrined 1971 1890-1971

Guggenheim’s interest in aviation grew as a result of his service as a naval aviator during World War I.  In March 1917, in anticipation of US involvement in the war, Guggenheim purchased a Curtis Flying Boat and took instructions.  By May he had formed a naval aviation unit, training at Manhasset Bay, Long Island.  In September of 1917, he was commissioned Lt. J. G., USNRF, and was sent to France.  He also served in England and Italy until the Armistice, when he left the Navy with the rank of Lt. Commander.


A 1907 graduate of Columbia Grammar School, New York City, Guggenheim attended the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University.  Leaving Yale, he served a three-year apprenticeship in the mines and metallurgical plants of the American Smelting and Refining Co. in Mexico.  He resumed his education in 1910 at England’s Pembroke College, Cambridge University, receiving his B.A. in 1913 and an M.A. from Cambridge in 1913.

From 1913 to 1923, Guggenheim was an officer and director of several copper companies, including Executive Director of the Chile Copper Co., owner of the world’s largest copper deposit.  He was the United States ambassador to Cuba from 1929 until his resignation in 1933.

In 1924, his parents established the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation of which Harry F. Guggenheim was a director and president for many years.  Under his leadership, the foundation sponsored much of the research of Dr. Robert J. Goddard, upon which all modern developments of rockets and jet propulsion was based.

Guggenheim’s strong interest in aviation was responsible for persuading his father to provide funds for the establishment of the first Guggenheim School of Aeronautics at New York University in 1925.  He became president of the Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics a year later.  This fund, totaling $3 million, included an equipment loan for operating the first regularly scheduled commercial airline in the United States.  It also provided for the establishment of the first weather reporting exclusively for passenger airplanes.

Before the fund terminated in January 1930, it had helped establish schools of aeronautical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, George School of Technology, California Institute of Technology, University of Washington, Sanford University, and University of Michigan. From these schools came many of the aeronautical engineers who built today’s airplanes industry.

Guggenheim further used the fund to organize a Safe Aircraft Competition to encourage aerodynamic safety without loss of aircraft efficiency.  As a result of this activity, then Lieutenant James H. Doolittle demonstrated the principle of fog-flying on September 24, 1929, when he took off, flew, and landed using only instruments in an aircraft with the cockpit completely covered.

In 1929, Guggenheim was appointed by President Hoover to serve on the National Advisory Committee of Aeronautics, a position he held until 1938.  Again in 1948, as president of the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation, he continued to assure U. S. aviation progress when he helped organize the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Jet Propulsion Center at California Institute of Technology and the Guggenheim laboratories for Aerospace Propulsion Sciences at Princeton University.

In 1954, the Guggenheim Institute of Flight Structures was established at Columbia University, again under the leadership of Harry F. Guggenheim.  In 1960 he made possible the International Academy of Astronautics.  For his contributions to American Aviation Guggenheim has been awarded:  the General H.  H. Arnold Award in 1956, by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, citing him as the American citizen contributing the most during the year to aviation; The Laura Taba Barbour Award from the Automotive Engineers in 1957 for his contribution to air safety; the Wright Memorial Trophy in 1964; and the Frank Hawks Memorial Trophy in 1965.

Guggenheim, with his third wife, Alicia Patterson, established NEWSDAY in 1940.  Guggenheim was President of the company, while his wife was editor and publisher until her death in 1963, at which time he assumed those duties until 1967 when he relinquished the duties of editor and publisher.  He continued as president and editor-in-chief until his retirement in May 1970.  Under his guidance, NEWSDAY’S circulation reached 450,000 and received the Pulitzer Prize in 1954.

Guggenheim was born on August 23, 1890, at West End, New Jersey.  He died of cancer on January 22, 1971 at age 90 in New York City, New York, and buried at Salem Fields Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.