Starting from nothing, Arthur S. Somers made a fortune in the dry color and paint business at Lavenburg Paint, and rose to prominence in his Brooklyn community. He was a well-known and beloved philanthropist, known to drive through the streets of Brooklyn at Christmas time, handing out silver dollars to the children who ran up to his car.
His interests ranged from commerce to labor, from education to politics. He served as President of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, served on the Brooklyn Mass Transit (BMT) Board, and as Commissioner and President of the Brooklyn Board of Education.
The Arthur S. Somers Intermediate School 252 was named in honor of his contributions to education. Education was perhaps the thing most dear to his heart. His writing and speeches stressed the importance of a good education, and of the need to train teachers. Snippets (unfortunately, due to copyright complaints) that attest to this can be found by searching Google Books:
The Gospel of Americanism
The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture
The Need for an Adequate Moral Education
The Book of New York: Forty Years' Recollections of the American Metropolis
Somers was active in both local and national politics. He was a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention from New York, in 1912 (alternate), 1916 (alternate), and 1928.
In 1925, Arthur sent his son Andrew L. Somers to Washington on a wager, when in a surprise upset, Andrew not only got himself elected, but was to serve a devoted constituency in Congress for 25 years.
Lincoln Terrace Park is one of only two parks in New York named for President Abraham Lincoln. "In 1932 the Board of Aldermen named the west portion of the park for Arthur S. Somers (1866-1932), a local philanthropist and civic activist." What an honor to share a park with a President of the United States!
LINCOLN TERRACE/ARTHUR S. SOMERS