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Welcome to Pace University, where New Yorkers, suburbanites, out-of-towners and international students have been preparing for opportunity since 1906 when two young men from the Midwest, accountant Homer St. Clair Pace and his brother, attorney Charles Ashford Pace, opened a unique school to prepare men and women for the New York State C.P.A. examination.

HOMER PACE'S NEW WORLD: LOWER MANHATTAN IN 1906

     Openings are usually marked by considerable fanfare. The debut of a new building, retail outlet or Broadway show invariably entails lots of hoopla, but that wasn’t the case n October 1906 when the educational institution which would one day evolve into Pace University opened its doors. Located but a stone’s throw from New York City’s first theatrical district and the site of Barnum’s Museum, whose founder was the nineteenth century’s undisputed master of hype, the new school began operating during the first decade of the city’s consolidation. The unification of the outlying boroughs with Manhattan in 1898 created a city of 3.4 million people, second in size only to London. A city as large as New York was the perfect site for an educational institution specializing in training for business because from the Dutch colonial period onward, New Yorkers have been interested in piling up the guilders, shillings and dollars. At the very time Pace was founded, the citizens of the metropolis were eagerly devouring newspaper articles about the rich and famous of that day, just as later generations would take delight in the ups and downs of the Trump empire. The New York Times for example, which together with the other major daily papers, was published in the Printing House Square area, now Place Plaza, kept its readers up-to-date on railroad magnate James J. Hill’s sale of his iron properties to U. S. Steel. William Randolph Hearst’s quest for the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nomination also made headlines and just as the younger members of the Kennedy clan would not be able to escape the glare of publicity towards the end of the twentieth century, in 1906 a Rockefeller’s every move was scrutinized. When John D. Rockefeller, Jr. failed to attend a Sunday school picnic on a damp Saturday in October, the Times devoted an entire column to this non-event, captioning the story: "John, Jr. Was Afraid He’d Catch Cold and Didn’t Go."

     In 1906, as today, financial news was very important. Whether it was London’s soaring taxes, the $2.8 billion U.S. debt, which averaged $35.49 per person, or the financial success of American baseball teams, whose best season in history had just ended, the newspaper provided their readers with all the details. The installation of a record number of telephones in New York City in the autumn of 1906 was also deemed newsworthy because of the

 

increasingly important relationship between improved communications and business volume. On the whole, business in the city was good and almost anything imaginable was available in Manhattan, including $20 imported men’s suits stocked by a retailer on Nassau Street. Perhaps a bit harder to come by was the "monkey millinery" worn by a female passenger who disembarked from Hamburg on October 6, 1906. The lady was wearing a Panama hat topped by a small live monkey!

     Not all of the news stories were as amusing. Killer tornadoes in the South, a Pacific earthquake, the collapse of a bridge in Wisconsin and the lynching of two African-Americans in Alabama were reported at the time Pace opened. Closer to home, cyclone-like winds in New York and the deaths of spectators at the Vanderbilt Cup automobile races on Long Island absorbed the public’s attention, as did allegations of patient abuse in one of the city’s largest hospitals and the incredible story of rioting by parents of students at public schools in Brooklyn. A rumor that Health Department doctors summoned to the schools to check students for eye and throat infections were going to slit the children’s throats sparked the rioting. Since few of the parents understood English, attempts by school authorities to disabuse them of the absurd notion that their offspring would be harmed failed. The police were summoned and the parent protesters were forcibly ejected from the schools, some of which had to be closed for a time.

     While rioting was taking place in Brooklyn, over in Manhattan, alumni of City College gathered to mark the anniversary of the birth of Townsend Harris, founder of City College and America’s first envoy to Japan. Presumably Homer and Charles Pace read about the impressive gathering at the City College Club in midtown Manhattan and who knows, perhaps they dreamed of a time when Pace would celebrate an anniversary. What the future held for a little school they had established was very much a question mark but in the vibrant New York of 1906, anything seemed possible. Given the intelligence and diligence of the two young men from the Midwest, success was only a matter of time.

 

Pace has always been linked to a much larger world, you may be  interested in learning what was happening globally in l906. If so, "World and National News - 1906"
 
For more on the history of accounting, "Public Accounting Practice and Education in the United States Through 1906."

And now, more about the founding fathers of Pace University. "The Founding Fathers"