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A History of P.S. 150

by Larry Freund

PS 150 building_edited.jpg

P.S. 150, courtesy New York City Municipal Archives

          In October 1930, a year after the Wall Street Crash, and as the United States continued to sink into what would become known as the Great Depression, New York City’s Board of Education –the forerunner of today’s Department of Education – approved plans for the construction of a new school, P.S. 150, on 43rd Avenue, between 40th and 41st Streets, at an estimated cost of half a million dollars (or $9,007,185.63 in 2023). 


          The school was intended to relieve the pressure of overcrowding by a fast-expanding student population in the Woodside and Sunnyside area at the two existing neighborhood schools, Junior High School 125 and P.S. 11 (a wooden school house destroyed by fire in 1951).  Records indicate that the completed P.S. 150 building was occupied on February 8, 1932, with a capacity of nearly 1,600 students.


          The school’s first principal was Florence S. Beaumont, an educator who would later become the Board of Education’s associate superintendent for elementary schools. By June of its first year, 150 was already publishing its annual Sunnyside Spirit, which featured a play about George Washington written in part by eleven-year-old Judith Tuvim, who would become the Broadway and Hollywood actor Judy Holliday.  In 1940, the artist Daniel Celentano completed a mural in the

school auditorium depicting children at play and study (The mural was funded by the Federal Art Project (1935–1943), a New Deal program to help visual artists).


          Described by a student from the 1940s:  "... the floors of the school were wooden.  So was the classroom wardrobe in which we hung our ‘outer wraps.’  All the desks were wooden too, and bolted to the floors – the hinged desktop opened to house your school books, the hinged seat rose to let you slide in, then dropped down as you sat.  Desks were coupled in double rows, with aisles on either side, so you always sat close by someone else.   Large roundish white lights on heavy chains hung from high ceilings, and tall windows were opened from the top with the aid of long hooked poles.”


          In the 1930s, according to school reports, P.S. 150 was a mix of “nationalities,” as

they were described, with many first-generation American students.  Now in its ninth decade, the school remains the same, reflecting the varied demographic mix of its community.

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A class at work at P.S. 150, June 26, 1935 - courtesy New York City Municipal Archives

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