History of P.S. 40

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P.S. 40 on 20th StreetOn the grounds where P.S. 40 now stands, Grammar School No. 40 was established sometime before 1865. Attendance there increased to such an extent that Grammar School No. 50 was built on the next block and the girls were moved there. During this period, “Forty” was known as “The Kid Glove School” of the city because the majority of pupils were sons of very wealthy or well-to-do parents who could afford to keep them at school and then give them a college education.

The school moved to 23rd Street in 1865, but returned to 20th Street after a new building was erected in 1897-98, our present Gothic-style home. In a school bulletin published in 1912, “Forty” was referred to as”…our modern five-story, fireproof building with roof playground and spacious cellars…well-heated by steam radiators and forced draughts of heated air…with large incandescent globes that give good light on stormy winter days.” About this time, “Forty” was named the General Wingate School in honor of former student–General George W. Wingate, the organizer of the Public School Athletic League.

P.S. 40 on 19th StreetIn 1922, the school became a boy’s junior high school. The 19th Street addition was built in 1928-29. “Forty” became a grammar school again in the 1950s by adding an elementary class and dropping a junior high class each year. Grammar School No. 50 was closed and all children in this area again attended “Forty” or what is now know as P.S. 40.

Old bulletins list some of P.S. 40’s famous graduates: Augustus Saint-Gaudens, sculptor with a strong influence on the development of American sculpture; Edward McDowell, noted composer; Percy MacKaye, famous American author and Dr. Robert Abbe, noted surgeon, one of the first in the U.S. to use radium in the treatment of cancer.