Gretchen Dykstra played a major role in restructuring New York City’s government, led the restoration of Times Square, served as NYC’s Commissioner of Consumer Affairs and then was appointed the Founding President of the National 9/11 Memorial Foundation.
She has published in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, California History, Pennsylvania Heritage, and the North Dakota Quarterly. In 2017, the University of Wisconsin Press released Pinery Boys including her biography of the grandfather she never knew. Then, as a writer-in-residence at the New York Public Library, Dykstra wrote Civic Pioneers. (Wise Ink, 2019)
Raised in Haverford, Pennsylvania, she lived in New York City for four decades with one break in Wuhan, China (1979-1981) and one in San Francisco (1998-2001). She now lives in the Hudson Valley.
Civic Pioneers: Local Stories from a Changing America, 1895-1915
Civic Pioneers tells the story of a dozen innovators in eight cities around the nation. Working in New York, Chicago, Denver, Oklahoma City, Louisville, Rochester, MN, Los Angeles, Berkeley, and San Francisco, they were men and women who changed American society at the municipal level as America was going through dramatic social and economic upheavals. They came from criminal justice and police, education and social welfare, public health and public works, and libraries. Some are familiar names with unfamiliar stories; others have been lost to history. They played an important role in the lives of everyday people and the shaping of city government. An engaging and informative collection of stories, students of American history, government and public policy will find Civic Pioneers an easy and accurate way to learn about our history at a formative time in that history.