The History of PS 150
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.
The school was intended to relieve the pressure of Sunnyside and Woodside’s fast-expanding student population that had over-filled the classrooms of the two existing neighborhood schools, Junior High School 125 and P.S. 11, a decades-old wooden school house destroyed by a fire in early 1951. Records indicate that the completed PS 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 Tuvin, 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, created to employ visual artists). Ruth Horowitz, a 150 student in the early 1950s, recalled that 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, opened from the top with the aid of long hooked poles, gave us light.”
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.