Saturday, December 5, 2015


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 1787


New York City (JFK+50) Fifty-four years ago today, December 5, 1961, after having met with his National Security Council, President John F. Kennedy flew here to the Big Apple where he attended the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame Dinner held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

JFK was presented with the Foundation's gold medal for his "promotion of the role of athletics in the development of civil and political leadership."

The President took the opportunity to stress the importance of improving physical fitness and highlighted the establishment of the President's Council on Youth Fitness*.

President Kennedy first observed that "politics is an astonishing profession" in that he went from being an "obscure Lieutenant under General Commander-in-chief in 14 years without any technical competence whatsoever..." and from being "an obscure member of the junior-varsity at Harvard to an honorary member of the Football Hall of Fame."

JFK then pointed out that unfortunately most Americans were not participants in sports and physical fitness activities but spectators.  He also said that American youth were lagging behind European children in being physically fit.

President Kennedy reminded his audience that the Greeks not only sought excellence of the mind but also of the body and said that Thomas Jefferson recommended at least two hours a day devoted to exercise.  JFK said that if Jefferson could devote 2 hours a day to physical fitness, then Americans could at least devote 15 minutes.

After the dinner, the President retired to the Carlyle Hotel for the evening.

JFK owned a two bedroom duplex penthouse suite on the 34th floor at the Carlyle at 35 E. 76th Street.  The President's father, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., had also owned a suite there.  

The JFK Suite was purchased for $12.5 million by the heiress to the Hyatt Hotel fortune.  Today, a standard room at the Carlyle has a rate of about $500 a night.

*The President's Council on Youth Fitness became the President's Council on Physical Fitness during JFK's administration.  The name change was intended to emphasize physical fitness for all age groups.  JFK appointed Coach Bud Wilkinson as chairman.


"Address at the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame Banquet, 5 December 1961," John F. Kennedy Library,

"President Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition,"

JFK at the Carlyle Hotel