William Howard Taft High School (New York City)

William Howard Taft High School is a former New York City high school in the southwest section of the Bronx, whose building now houses small specialized high schools. The school was operated by the New York City Department of Education.

The Taft school campus is located on Sheridan Avenue and 172nd Street in the Bronx.


Founded in the 1940s, Taft originally served the largely homogeneous population of the surrounding area.[citation needed] In the post-war years of the forties, fifties and sixties, famous graduates included director Stanley Kubrick, producer Jerry Weintraub, novelist Judith Rossner, and singers Eydie Gormé, Chuck Negron, Luther Vandross and Alan Merrill.

Demographic and the advent of specialized magnet schools brought about shifts in enrollment. During the Abraham Beame (1974–77) and Edward Koch (1978–89) administrations, citywide, crime rates were high and unfavorable publicity accelerated the decline of the school. By the early 1970s, Taft H.S. earned a reputation as a "failing school" with many of the problems of other high schools in poor, marginalized neighborhoods in New York City.

Entering the 1990s, as a non-selective high school, it was unable to compete with the newer schools housing magnet programs that attracted prime students from throughout the borough. Crime intimidated vibrant young professionals from teaching at the high school. The danger was highlighted in May 1997, when Jonathan Levin, an English teacher at the school and the son of former Time Warner chairman Gerald M. Levin, was murdered by a former student in his Manhattan apartment.

Of the 629 students attending Taft in the 1990s, the majority were Hispanic and African-American. On any given day, attendance hovered around 86%. The impoverished community, lacking in political clout or a cohesive PTA, was provided 10 truancy officers, rather than improved education strategies. The last graduating class of Taft High School was in June 2008.


Within the same building, the previously identified "failing school" has been transformed into a series of small specialized high schools to meet modern career needs. The specialty schools are:

Notable alumniEdit

  • Eddie Carmel, born Oded Ha-Carmeili (1936–1972), Israeli-born entertainer with gigantism and acromegaly, popularly known as "The Jewish Giant"
  • Arthur J. Cooperman (born 1933), lawyer and politician
  • Irwin Dambrot (1928–2010), basketball player
  • Eydie Gormé (1928–2013), singer
  • Richard Gottehrer (born 1940), songwriter, record producer, and record label executive
  • Artie Green, basketball player
  • Joe Hammond, streetball basketball player
  • Barbara Kalik (née Bennett, born 1936), Democratic Party politician
  • Stanley Kubrick (1928–1999), film director, screenwriter, producer, and photographer
  • Gerald M. Levin (born 1939), mass-media businessman
  • Ed Roman (1930–1988), college basketball player
  • Judith Rossner (1935–2005), novelist
  • Ken Rudin, radio journalist
  • Vic Ziegel 1937–2010), sports writer, columnist, and editor for the New York Post and the New York Daily News.
  • Luther Vandross (1951-2005), Singer


  1. ^ "Bronx High School for Medical Science". New York City Department of Education. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
  2. ^ "Bronx High School of Business". New York City Department of Education. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
  3. ^ "Bronx Collegiate Academy". New York City Department of Education. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
  4. ^ "Bronx Collegiate Academy". InsideSchools.org. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
  5. ^ "Claremont International HS". Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  6. ^ "DreamYard Preparatory School". New York City Department of Education. Retrieved 2020-04-08.
  7. ^ "Jonathan Levin High School for Media and Communications". New York City Department of Education. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
  8. ^ "The Urban Assembly Academy for History and Citizenship for Young Men". New York City Department of Education. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
  9. ^ "New Directions Secondary School". New York City Department of Education. Retrieved 2015-09-08.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 40°50′25″N 73°54′40″W / 40.840289°N 73.911087°W / 40.840289; -73.911087