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In the Neighborhood: Theodore Roosevelt's Birthplace
Of all the reference questions I expected upon coming to work at the Andrew Heiskell Library in its current location on West 20th Street in Manhattan, "Where is Teddy Roosevelt's birthplace?" was nowhere on my list. I quickly learned that the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace Historic Site is a short two blocks east, at 28 East 20th Street, and that this question comes up mostly during the summer tourist season. Since then, I've often walked past this now familiar, unassuming townhouse and feel as if I'm stepping back in time.
The 26th U.S. president, Teddy Roosevelt was the only president born in New York City, and he and his well-to-do family lived in the house until he was fourteen, when the family moved uptown. The original building was demolished in 1916. After Roosevelt's death in 1919, the Women's Roosevelt Memorial Association bought the site and rebuilt the townhouse. The building was designated a historic site and is managed by the U.S. Park Service which conducts tours through "five restored period rooms" that "reflect the lifestyle of the Roosevelts circa 1865," plus two museum galleries.
A conservationist, Roosevelt's illustrious career included colonel in the Rough Riders, New York City Police Commissioner, Governor of New York State, and Vice President of the United States. He became President upon the assassination of William McKinley in 1901.