Henry Mitchell MacCracken, extremely passionate about history and civic duty, believed that Americans needed a place to honor great and influential figures from the past. Influenced by the Rumshalle (hall of fame) in Germany, the Chancellor pictured a pantheon where Americans could pay tribute to those who left their mark on America. MacCracken’s vision would become a reality and be dubbed the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, the first Hall of Fame ever built in the United States.
Stanford White designed a 630-foot long colonnade to surround the Gould Memorial Library and exhibit bronze busts of the inductees. The Hall of Fame became central to the campus, a major tourist spot in the Bronx and a national shrine.
Elections took place every five years and candidates had to be a born or naturalized American citizen and deceased for at least 25 years (from 1900-1922 it was only 10). Various nominee classifications included politicians, scientists, authors, soldiers, inventors and a number of other professions.The nominations were open to the public but an election committee of prominent intellectuals, politicians and socialites would select that years inductees.