APRIL 30, 1960
NEW YORK. —A large number of people who in some way had been in the limelight of American history in the past 25 years gathered together at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel here this week. It was an original and interesting way chosen by the Research Institute of America to observe the 25th anniversary of its founding.
The institute is the world's largest private industry-supported, business advisory organization with more than 30,000 member companies in this country and in Europe.
Many of the persons honored at the dinner could not be present, but the gathering of so many of them together on the dais seemed to be an extraordinary achievement. I doubt if there is any other place in the world where people of such totally different backgrounds, contributions to public life and interests could have been assembled.
I was surprised that there was not more representation from the world of the arts, for it seems that we have now grown up sufficiently in this country to realize that a nation's development is affected by its accomplishments in the field of artistic expression, and, of course, in this I include all the arts.
The audience was made up largely of leaders in American industry, and it certainly was a distinguished one. Leo Cherne, executive director of the institute, deserves credit for having thought up this unique way to celebrate 25 years of living and working.
I was particularly glad to have had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Leo Szilard and his wife and Judge and Mrs. Learned Hand. My neighbors at the dinner table were H.V. Kaltenborn and Henry Wallace, and both seemed full of plans for the future. Let us hope they will be here to celebrate the next 25 years.
In connection with the arts, I want to mention an interesting project being undertaken in Chicago. Those who knew Chicago in the old days probably will remember the famous Auditorium Theatre where celebrated musicians and opera singers performed. At that time the theatre was known to have the best accoustics of any in existence.
To rehabilitate this remarkable landmark, which is now part of the Roosevelt University building, may cost $3 million, and the fundraising program has just been started under a national committee of the Auditorium Theatre Council.
The council, under the chairmanship of Mrs. John V. Spachner, has announced that the restored theatre will have three major functions: to serve as a proper setting for all theatre arts, and for educational, social, civic and commercial assemblies; to provide an avenue for artistic advancement for individuals and groups; to fulfill a responsibility by the citizens of Chicago and all persons interested in cultural progress to preserve this great monument to 19th Century architecture.
In the restoration, the acoustics will be carefully guarded and the beauty of the hall restored. Its seating capacity will be approximately 4,000 and there will be room for 80 musicians in the pit.
When completed, this will be something that Chicago should be proud to show its visitors as an indication of the appreciation which that city has for the cultural life of its people.