It’s a Helluva Town: Joan K. Davidson, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, and the Fight for a Better New York
By Roberta Brandes Gratz
The story of Joan K. Davidson and the J.M. Kaplan Fund, New York’s hidden benefactors.
Learn about key moments in New York City's development, starting with the history of the J.M. Kaplan Fund and its role in shaping the city from World War II to the present.
The J.M. Kaplan Fund was established in 1945 by Jacob M. Kaplan, and would go on to play a critical role in New York City's cultural and urban life. Kaplan's long leadership of the Fund (1945-1977) was marked by determined advocacy, including the effort to save Carnegie Hall from destruction, support for institutions like The New School for Social Research and the South Street Seaport Museum, as well as to bolster the cause of union democracy, the arts, and the co-operative movement. Since the 1970s, the Fund has been led by Kaplan's daughter, Joan K. Davidson, who has led the Fund to its current place as a forceful presence in New York City's civic life, supporting the Westbeth Artists Housing, Greenmarkets, and more.