August Heckscher

August Heckscher (August 26, 1848 – April 26, 1941) was a German-born American capitalist and philanthropist.

August Heckscher
Portrait of August Heckscher.jpg
Born(1848-08-26)August 26, 1848
DiedApril 26, 1941(1941-04-26) (aged 92)
Anna P. Atkins
(m. 1881; died 1924)

(m. 1930; his death 1941)
ChildrenMaurice Heckscher
Antoinette Heckscher
Parent(s)Johann Gustav Heckscher
Marie Antoinette Bräutigam
RelativesRichard Heckscher (cousin)
August Heckscher II (grandson)

Early lifeEdit

Heckscher was born in Hamburg, Germany. He was the son of Johann Gustav Heckscher (1797-1865) and Marie Antoinette Bräutigam.[1]


In 1867, Heckscher immigrated to the United States. He initially worked in his cousin Richard Heckscher's coal mining operation as a laborer, studying English at night. Several years later he formed a partnership with his cousin under the name of Richard Heckscher & Company. The firm was eventually sold to the Reading Railroad. Heckscher then turned to zinc mining and organized the Zinc and Iron Company, becoming vice-president and general manager. In 1897, it was consolidated with other zinc and iron companies into the New Jersey Zinc Company with Heckscher serving as the general manager.


Heckscher eventually became a multimillionaire and a philanthropist. He started The Heckscher Foundation for Children and created playgrounds in lower Manhattan and in Central Park. Heckscher Playground, Central Park's largest playground, is named in his honor. Heckscher also created Heckscher Park in the town of Huntington and created the Heckscher Museum of Art. The State of New York purchased nearly 1,500 acres in East Islip with money donated by Heckscher to create Heckscher State Park, made famous for hosting summer concerts for 35 years of the New York Philharmonic.

Personal lifeEdit

In 1881, he married Anna P. Atkins (1859-1924).[2] Together, they were the parents of:[3]

In 1930, he married Virginia Henry Curtiss (ca. 1885-1941) at Croton-on-Hudson. She was the widow of Edwin Burr Curtiss, of A. G. Spalding Bros. and was 27 years younger than Heckscher.[3][5]

August Heckscher died on April 26, 1941 in Mountain Lake, Florida[6][7] and left his widow $10,000 and all his real estate.[8] She died on July 11, 1941.[3] No legatee could be found that was named in her will and the probate court declared an earlier copy of the will as valid.[9]


His grandson August Heckscher II (1913–1997), served as President John F. Kennedy's Special Consultant on the Arts, the first White House cultural adviser, 1962–63, as well New York City Mayor John Lindsay's Parks Commissioner, 1967, amongst other highlights in a wide-ranging career and life.[10]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Yearbook of the Encyclopedia Americana. Encyclopedia Americana. 1942. He was twice married, to Anna Atkins in 1881, who died in 1924, and to Mrs. Virginia Henry Curtiss in 1930 ... Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  3. ^ a b c "Mrs. A. Heckscher, Philanthropist, 66. Widow of Real Estate Man Dies in Penthouse Home in Office Building". The New York Times. July 11, 1941. Retrieved 2009-11-27. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  4. ^ "MISS HECKSCHER WEDS O. S. B. BRETT Son. of Viscount Esher of England Married to Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. August Heckscher. | CEREMONY AT WINCOMA | Some of the Guests Arrive on Heckscher Yacht--Bridal Pair Sail on the Mauretania" (PDF). The New York Times. October 2, 1912. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Heckscher, 81, Weds Mrs. V. H. Curtiss, 55. Philanthropist Quietly Married to Widow of E. B. Curtiss at Croton Last Wednesday. Bride, a Close Friend of His First Wife, Has Been Associated With Him in Child Welfare Work. Wed in Parsonage. Born in Hamburg in 1848". The New York Times. July 8, 1930. Retrieved 2009-11-25. August Heckscher, millionaire real estate operator and philanthropist, and Mrs. Virginia Henry Curtiss of New York and Greenwich, Conn., were married last Wednesday in Croton-on-Hudson, but their marriage did not become known to any but their closest friends until ... Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  6. ^ "Heckscher Dies, Noted Financier. Came to U. S. as Immigrant. Worked First as Laborer. Became Philanthropist. Philanthropist Dies At 92. Was Long Ill". Associated Press in the Hartford Courant. April 27, 1941. Retrieved 2009-11-25. August Heckscher, 92-years-old New York capitalist and philanthropist, died at his Mountain Lake home here today after a long illness. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  7. ^ "August Heckscher Dies In Sleep At 92. Philanthropist, Real Estate and Steel Operator Was in Florida Home. Philanthropist Dead August Heckscher Dies In Sleep At 92". The New York Times. April 27, 1941. Retrieved 2009-11-28. August Heckscher, real estate and steel operator, banker and philanthropist, died at his Winter home at Mountain Lake, near here, at 2:40 P. M. today. Death came suddenly in his sleep. He was 92 years old. ... In July of 1930, at the age of 81, he married Mrs. Virginia Henry Curtiss, ... Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  8. ^ "Heckscher Estate Is Left To Family; Widow Gets Realty, $10,000. Half Interest in Residue Shared With Son. No Gifts Go To Charity. Philanthropist Explains These Were Made During Life. Cash Bequests $28,000". The New York Times. May 4, 1941. Retrieved 2009-11-28. Members of the family of August Heckscher, real estate operator and philanthropist, will receive the greater part of his estate, it became known yesterday when his will was filed in Surrogate's Court. Mr. Heckscher, who was 92 years old, died on April 26 at Mountain Lake, Fla. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  9. ^ "No Heckscher Kin Found. Executor Seeks Earlier Will to Dispose of Estate Residue". The New York Times. July 19, 1941. Retrieved 2009-11-28. When the will of Mrs. Virginia Henry Curtiss Heckscher, widow of August Heckscher, the philanthropist, was filed for probate in Surrogate's Court yesterday, ... Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  10. ^ Pace, Eric (April 7, 1997). "August Heckscher, 83, Dies; Advocate for Parks and Arts". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-25. August Heckscher, a Parks Commissioner under Mayor John V. Lindsay who was long active in public affairs and as a writer, died on Saturday at New York Hospital. He was 83 and lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The cause was heart failure, which he suffered after being admitted to the hospital because he had been having chest pains, his family said. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)