Dating back to 1942, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Historic Sites in Journalism program has honored the people and places that have played important roles in American journalistic history.
List of New York City sites among SPJ National Historic Sites in Journalism. Click on the date ranges below for an interactive map of each location.
1954: Henry J. Raymond, Co-Founder and Editor, The New York Times
1958: The Trial of John Peter Zenger
1962: Horace Greeley, New York Tribune
1963: James Gordon Bennet, Founder, New York Herald
1966: CBS Building, New York City
1965 Adolph S. Ochs and The New York Times
1972: NBC News studio from which first nation-wide bulletin was broadcast of Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
1975: Commemorative plaque in Old Times Tower, site of first Deadline Club meetings in 1925, in Editor & Publisher offices of James Wright Brown.
1975: The Nation, New York City
1977: The Wall Street Journal
1983: Freedom’s Journal, New York City
1984: New York City
1986: New York City, In Honor of Ida Tarbell
1987: The Amsterdam News
1988: The Algonquin Hotel
2016: Octagon Hotel
Historic Site in Journalism plaque dedication Aug. 13 on Roosevelt Island, New York
INDIANAPOLIS, AUGUST 8, 2017 – The Society of Professional Journalists and Roosevelt Island Historical Society will dedicate a plaque honoring the island in New York City as the 2016 Historic Site in Journalism.
Judith Berdy, historical society president; Rebecca Baker, SPJ president-elect; and Andrew Seaman, SPJ Ethics Committee chair, will discuss the historical significance of the site during the dedication at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday (Aug. 13) at the Roosevelt Island Historical Society’s Visitor Center kiosk.
“All of New York City obviously has a romantic history with journalism, but no other place has captured my attention more than Roosevelt Island,” Seaman said. “Each time I visit, I can’t help but think of Nellie Bly’s journey to the ‘madhouse’ and her contributions to the profession. I’m so happy that the Society of Professional Journalists decided to recognize Roosevelt Island with this honor.”
The Octagon, which is located on the north end of the island, is an ornate stone building built in 1841 to house psychiatric patients in its two L-shaped wings. Patients brought to the island by boat were separated from the rest of society in what Charles Dickens referred to as a “lounging, listless, madhouse air.”
In 1887, Nellie Bly was sent to the island after acting strangely. Though she received the same treatment as the patients, Bly was there only on assignment from newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer. Her work “10 Days in a Madhouse” is considered among the first pieces of investigative journalism and led to improvements in treatment of psychiatric patients.
The building served as a general hospital until 1955. The octagonal entry was fully restored and now serves as the entry to a residential building.
Since 1942, SPJ has honored the people and places that have played important roles in the history of journalism through the Historic Sites program. Some honorees include: Freedom’s Journal, the first Black newspaper published in the United States, and The Wheeling Intelligencer, the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in West Virginia.