Advocates for excellence in the urban environment

We honor preservation advocacy.

Jacqueline Onassis was awarded The Fine Arts Federation medal for her remarkable devotion to the cause of historic preservation in New York City.

Upon becoming First Lady in 1960, Jacqueline Kennedy formed an enduring passion for historic preservation through the restoration of the White House, a project that led to a lifelong interest in protecting historic resources, including her successful advocacy for the passage of the nation’s Historic Preservation Act in 1966.

Ms. Onassis played an instrumental role in saving Grand Central Terminal from threatened demolition in 1975 to make way for a 53-story tower, becoming a central figure in the campaign as part of the Committee to Save Grand Central Station. As noted by the New York Preservation Archive Project, “Jackie brought enormous visibility to the campaign…By standing up and speaking out for the terminal, she made it a success. And she made it not just a struggle involving New Yorkers, but people all over the country.”

Her dedication to preservation extended beyond the ultimately successful Grand Central campaign, and through her service as a member of the Municipal Art Society Board of Directors, she took part in significant battles across the city. Before her death in 1994, Ms. Onassis joined efforts to save St. Bartholomew’s Church from a towering office building on the site, and argued against overscaled development at Columbus Circle, making a lasting impact on New York’s historic fabric.

Image Credit: Bettmann/CORBIS