Back in the late 1970’s while attending John Jay college of Criminal Justice I would have dinner every Friday night at this great little restaurant on 57th street and Park Ave. I always ordered the London Broil, which was simply the best, a couple of beers (back in 1978 in was legal to drink at eighteen, not that it would have stopped me either way) and after leaving a great tip, 3 dollars on a 7 dollar bill, I would walk across the street and look at the coming events at “Carnegie Hall,” not that I could afford to go to any event but I did love looking and walking around this magnificant building.

After moving to California in the early eighties, I always remembered fondly the little restaurant with the wonderful London Broil… So much so that I brought my lovely wife there a few times while visiting New York, but never did I think of going across the street to “Carnegie Hall.” Strange, because by that time I could have afforded tickets. In fact, I never even thought about “Carnegie Hall,” or the man responsible for building the music hall, Andrew Carnegie, until some forty years later when I read David McCullough’s “The Johnstown Flood” and Mr. Carnegie and his Steel company were mentioned in the book.

It was after reading Mr. McCullough’s book that I decided to pick up the highly praised, extremely large biography named “Andrew Carnegie” by David Nasaw. To say that Mr. Carnegie was different, would be an understatement. At one point in his life he was considered the “richest man” in the world… The Steel business and a few shady deals paid really well.

To say that Mr. Carnegie was generous would be a large exaggeration. At the time of his death, he would have given away what would amount to the fortunes of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezo’s combined. And who are those that benefitted from his largess: Libraries, he built over two thousand across the United States and the world… Museums, Schools, Music halls, Convention Centers, The Carnegie Foundation for World Peace, The Carnegie Foundation for Scientific Research, The Mount Wilson Observatory… And the list just keeps going on and on.

Mr. Carnegie’s goal in life, after accumulating a massive fortune, was to give it all away before he died, and for the most part he did. He was far from a perfect man. In fact, the men that worked in his Steel Mills might not be very kind in their appraisal of the man.

Yet, his imprint on American and world cultures, his pursuit of world peace, and his relationships with Presidents of the United States makes him one of the most influential, if not controversial figures, of the last 150 years.

Joseph Conrad wrote, “That we go through life with eyes half closed,” and in the case of Andrew Carnegie I passed through six decades with eyes fully closed because I have passed many of his cultural and scientific Institution that he had built and didn’t take notice, which is amazing because they’re everywhere.




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