The history of World War II and New York’s story during the war is felt throughout the museum right now because of our incredible exhibition, WWII & NYC. When I walk through the exhibit, I learn a lot of things about soldiers and civilians (regular people like you and me) and leaders during the war. One of these leaders was Sir Winston Churchill, whose birthday was today, November 30th. He led Great Britain during the war and served as Prime Minister twice. Many people consider Sir Winston Churchill one of the great wartime leaders during the twentieth century.
But one of the things I find most interesting about this world famous leader is that he loved New York! His mother, Jennie Jerome, was born and raised in Brooklyn and worked as a magazine editor. Two unusual things about Jennie are that she had a snake tattoo on her left wrist and her mother was part Iroquois. When Jennie was 20, she married Lord Randolph Churchill and quickly became one of the glamorous people in English society. Winston was her oldest son.
Churchill adored his mother and her city of birth. He visited New York many, many times over the years. On December 13, 1931, while visiting a friend on Fifth Avenue, Churchill misjudged the traffic direction on the street while crossing and was struck by a car traveling 35 miles an hour. He spent a week at Lenox Hospital recovering from surgery and wrote an article for the newspaper about his experience and called it “My New York Misadventure.” In the article, he quoted himself to a policeman at the scene of the accident: “I am entirely to blame; it is all my own fault.”
Sir Winston Churchill was also beloved by Americans. He earned a ticker-tape parade up Broadway in 1946 and is one of only three individuals who have been granted honorary citizenship to the United States by an act of Congress. In New York City, you can go visit Downing Square Playground and Winston Churchill Square in the West Village, at the corner of Downing and Sixth Avenue near Bleecker Street. It’s a peaceful little park dedicated to the memory of Sir Winston Churchill and in appreciation of his connection to our city.