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News & Town Board Reports (gblist)

Posted on: August 1, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Hastings’ Best and Brightest : Nobel Laureates of Hastings By Riley & Wentzler& Felica Barber

Hastings should be proud of having so many smart people living in their small village - residents who changed lives for the better.

Town Historian

Hastings’ Best and Brightest : Nobel Laureates of Hastings

By Riley & Wentzler& Felica Barber

Nobel Prize

In a country such as ours that was founded on, and continues to strive for, total equality it can sometimes be difficult for us as Americans to acknowledge that some people are just better at their chosen calling, whether that is the calling of: politician, soldier, author, teacher, physicist, chemist, biologist economist or chef etc, than their peers who practice the same profession. However we should not deny the fact that these superstars exist, and blindly shout, “We are all Equal!” Rather, we should continue to celebrate them as we have always done. The very fact that we have superstars in our mists is why we have so many awards: The Congressional Medal of Honor, The Pulitzer Prize, The Outstanding Chef Award, The Nobel Prize etc. Among those awards, the Nobel Prize is one of the most prestigious awards one can receive. Any community with even one Nobel Laureate has something to celebrate, and Greenburgh is lucky to have many!!! Hastings seems to have more Nobel Prize winners than most communities in the world!

Hastings should be proud of having so many smart people living in their small village - residents who changed lives for the better. In the coming months we will also share stories about residents who lived in other neighborhoods who also contributed to a better world. Feel free to contact us with your suggestions.

William Vickrey (June 21, 1914 - October 11, 1996)William Spencer Vickrey was born on June 21, 1914 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, however his family moved to the United States before he was even a year old. He became a naturalized citizen. He graduated with a bachelor’s in math from Yale University in 1935. Both his master’s in 1937 and his doctorate in 1947 are from Columbia University. From 1946 to 1981, he was a professor of economics there (MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation). He spent most of his life in Hastings ( He firmly believed that in applying economic theory to daily life, one could greatly improve one’s own living conditions and those of others. Improving living conditions in the United States thus became the goal of all his research projects.

Some concepts to come out of his research were:


Time Based Pricing (T.B.P) which meant that fees on toll roads should go up or down as daily traffic increased or decreased. While it was first adopted by the Interstate Highway Commission, this same principle of time-based pricing would later be adopted by telephone companies and airlines.

Government programs to help people get jobs. He reasoned that ,if achieved, full employment would lead to the elimination of poverty which would, in turn, greatly reduce crime and drug addiction.

Optimal Income Tax (O.I.T) which means an income tax based on a person’s long term economic production rather than one based on the short-term metric of yearly income. This last proposal was never adopted (MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation).

He received the Nobel Prize in Economics on October 8th 1996, and died three days later. The next year another Hastings native would again take the Nobel Prize in Economics. As luck would have it, this person also happened to have a degree from Columbia. His name was Robert C. Merton (MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation).

Robert C. Merton


Robert C. Merton was born on July 31st , 1944 in New York City, but, he was raised in Hastings. He had two sisters a younger sister, Stephanie, and an older sister Vanessa. (

He is the son of the famous sociologist Robert K. Merton who devised the theory of Structural Functionalism. (MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation). In elementary school Young Robert played Little League, and in high school he ran track and played football (

In 1967 Robert he earned his master’s in applied mathematics from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Around this time, he began developing a theory of continuous-time analysis which treated individual financial transactions as part of larger chains of transactions. He then completed his education with a doctorate in economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge in 1970. From 1970-1988 he taught economics at MIT. It was in 1973, while teaching at MIT, that he successfully applied continuous-time analysis to the existing capital asset pricing model (MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation). The capital asset pricing model explains the relationship between the risk in buying stocks and the potential return on a person’s investment after selling them (

In 1989, Mr. Merton took a position at Harvard Business School. He also applied his formula to derivatives. Derivatives, such as stock options and futures, are transferable monetary implements whose worth is based on that of a tangible product, either agricultural like apples and tobacco, or manufactured like cars and guns.

It is for his ground-breaking work in applying continuous-time analysis to derivatives that he received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1997 (MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation).

Although Robert Merton no longer resides in Hastings, his sister, Vanessa continues to live in the village and is very active in the community. Vanessa Merton is now a professor of immigration law at Pace University. She has served as Elisabeth Haub School of Law’s Associate Dean for Clinical Education while creating the Access to Health Care and Prosecution of Domestic Violence Clinics. She currently directs the Immigration Justice Clinic, staffed by student attorneys authorized to practice under supervision. She speaks up at town and village meetings when concerned about issues and is active in Democratic Party politics at the local level (

James Rainwater (December 9,1917 - May 31 1986)


James Leo Rainwater was born on December 9 1917 in Council, Idaho. His father died in the Spanish Influenza Epidemic of 1918. When his mother remarried, the family moved to Hanford, California, located in the San Joaquin Valley. His early years were spent in California. James loved school and was particularly gifted in physics and chemistry( After high school he attended California Institute of Technology. He graduated with his bachelor’s in physics in 1939. Somewhere around this time, he moved to the State of New York, enrolled in Columbia University’s P.H.D. Physics Program, and became one of the scientists involved with the Manhattan Project 1997 (MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation).

He graduated, thereby earning his doctorate, in 1946. His work on the Manhattan Project which led to the development of the atomic bomb, stimulated his interest in sub-atomic particles. Therefore, in 1949, he began studying atomic nuclei. At this time only two models of the nucleus existed, The Liquid Drop Model proposed by Niels Bohr in 1936, which said that as a liquid the nucleus could change shape and the Shell Model proposed by Maria Goeppert-Mayer and Johannes Hans Daniel Jensen in 1949. The Shell Model said that protons and neutrons moved in circles around the inside of the nucleus. Both models explained some important features of the atom but ignored other important properties.

In 1952, he became a professor of physics at Columbia University, and with the university’s full blessing and financial support, began creating a different model of the nucleus which would cover all of its properties, both those explained by The Liquid Drop Model but ignored by The Shell Model and those explained by The Shell Model but ignored by The Liquid Drop Model. His solution was The Oblong Nucleus Model. It was for this model that he won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1975. He retired from Columbia in early May of 1986(MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation). He passed away on May 31 1986 in Yonkers ( It would be 1988, a full 13 years after James Rainwater won his Nobel Prize in Physics, before a Hastings native would again take home the prize.


Hans Jakob Jack” Steinberger

Hans Jakob “Jack” Steinberger was born on May 25 1921 in Bad Kissingen Germany. His father Ludwig Steinberger was a cantor at their local synagogue and a religious teacher at a local Hebrew School. This meant that things became very difficult for him and his family when Adolph Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany in 1933. By the next year, Hitler had absolute power. One of the first laws Hitler’s regime passed, was a law which prevented Jewish children from attending higher education in public schools. Seeing the situation get steadily worse, Jack’s father put him on a ship bound for New York, on Christmas Day 1934. From there, Jack took a train to Chicago and stayed with Barnett Faroll, a local grain merchant who taught him what was necessary as far as a high-school education, and then, later made it possible also for his parents and younger brother to come in to America in 1938, thus escaping the Holocaust. He studied chemical engineering at Armour Institute of Technology (now the Illinois Institute of Technology). But he suffered from severe depression and never finished, dropping out after only two years.

He had extreme difficulty finding a job, but was eventually able to find work at G.D. Searl, and Co a pharmaceutical company. He simultaneously helped at his parent’s store on weekends. On week nights he attended the University of Chicago studying chemistry. In 1941 he got a scholarship, which enabled him to finally attend day classes and graduate in 1942. After graduation, he joined the United States Army in order to help the U.S. war-effort during WWII ( He was assigned to the MIT Radiation Laboratory which was making radar bomb sights (MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation). There were a lot of physicists employed at the laboratory and two of these men, Ed Purcell and Julian Schwinger, he found particularly interesting. They inspired him to take the first physics course he had taken since his brief time at Armour Institute of Technology. He took several basic physics courses there at the laboratory which the army funded.

When the war ended, he enrolled in the University of Chicago, where he earned both a master’s and a doctorate in physics. After graduation in 1948, he taught at the University of Berkeley for one year before resigning and taking a job at Columbia University. He worked at Columbia from 1950-1968 when he joined The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). The name CERN, is an abbreviation of its name in French. It was at CERN that he devised a way to see Neutrinos (the plural of neutron, the neutral sub-atomic particle, which like the positively charged proton, also resides inside the nucleus of an atom (MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation). He retired from CERN in 1986 ( In recognition of this discovery, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1988 (MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation). He is still alive today at 99 years old! He has three sons and one daughter (

In conclusion, the Nobel Prize is one of the most prestigious awards one can receive. Any community with even one Nobel Laureate has something to celebrate be proud of Greenburgh is lucky to have many. In the interest of time, we have decided just to focus on those Nobel Laureates from Village of Hastings. What makes Hastings stand out are its scientists and economists.

 Slice of History


Previous Slices of History include:


1. Greenburgh’s BROTHERLY LOVE, RELIEF AND TRUTH: A History of The Freemasons in Greenburgh (9/12/18)

2. Greenburgh and The Arts (9/22/18)

3. A Final Resting Place for “Man’s Best Friend”: The Peaceable Kingdom (9/29/18)

4. Greenburgh’s Hall of Heroes: Ferncliff Cemetery Where Memories Live Forever (10/12/18)

5. Greenburgh at The Great American Crossroads: Greenburgh’s Civil War Story(10/19/18)

6. A Different Kind of Rebel: Greenburgh’s Contributions to the Underground Railroad (10/27/18)

7. "The Disappearing Railroad Blues" in Greenburgh: The Fate of the Putnam Railroad Line and the old Putnam Trail (11/6/18)

8. A Thousand Words Which You Never Knew: The Forgotten Story of the Seal of Greenburgh (11/17/18)

9. How a Flat Tire led to a Happy Escape: The Story of Carvel in Greenburgh (12/11/18)

10. The Guardians of History: Greenburgh’s Historical Societies (1/6/19)

11. A Small House, an Important Meeting, a Huge Victory: The Story of the Odell House (1/12/2019)

12. The Intersection of Banking, Ballet, and School: Greenburgh’s Warburg Estate (Updated) (10/22/19) 

13. Lost History: The Tragedy of Malkasten (1/26/19)

14. A Beautiful View for the Perfect Event: The Belvedere Estate (2/9/19)

15. The Power of Wealth and Humility: A Reflection on Two Highly Influential African Americans (2/18/19)

16. Greenburgh Under the Hollywood Lights: The TV shows and movies Filmed in Greenburgh Part I (2/23/19)

17. Oh, The Places Your Mail has Gone: A History of The Hartsdale Post Office (3/9/2019)

18. From Insurance to Symphonies: The Home of Charles Ives (3/16/19)

19. Greenburgh Under the Hollywood Lights: The TV shows and Movies Filmed in Greenburgh Part II (3/29/19)

20. From Chasing Rabbits to Setting Records: The Amazing Story of Larry James (4/7/2019)

21. From Fixing Cars to building Infrastructure: How Massaro Park Got its name (4/13/2019)

22. There is no church here, but “the brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated” this ground: The Story of The Little White Church Cemetery (4/27/19)

23. Irvington in Chains and our Process A History of Slavery in Irvington and A look at how Slices of History are made (and our interview with historian Robert Marchant) (5/11/2019)

24. From Farmland to Shopping District: The Rise of Central Avenue (5/25/2019)

25. Like a long lost friend”: The story of how summer recreation has evolved in Greenburgh (6/7/2019)

26. Abandon Ship!!! The Story of United Nuclear Corporation and their Short-lived Elmsford Facility (6/28/19)

27. Beyond Heritage Versus Hate Toward Hope and Reconciliation: The story of Mount Hope Cemetery and its Confederate Monument (7/13/19)

28. Hidden History: The Story of Fairview Fairgrounds Part I (7/27/19)

29. Entertainers for Justice (8/3/2019)

30. A Tale of Two Towns: Greenburgh, NY, and Muncy, PA (8/23/ 2019)

31.  When Greenburgh Went “East Bound and Down”: Greenburgh During Prohibition (10/6/2019)


32. From Mopping The Floor of One Institution to Managing Three at Once: The Amazing Story of Former Westchester County Commissioner of Public Welfare Ruth Taylor (12/12/19) 


33. Greenburgh Gets its “Sun Daze on” Under the Watchful Eyes of the Boys in Blue (1/9/2020)


34. Making Martin Luther King Jr’s Dream Come Alive the Success Story of the Parkway Homes/ Parkway Gardens Community:(1/18/2020)

35. Formed By Adversity, Held Together by Faith: The History of the Parkway Homes/Parkway Gardens Community (2/27/2020)


36. From an Apple Orchard to The Olympics: The Saint Andrew’s Golf Club (3/8/2020)

37. Ashes “Ashes, Ashes!!We all Fall Down”(3/23/2020)


38. A Leading Medical Institution at The Border of Greenburgh: The Story of New York Medical College (4 /4 /2020)


39. When the Cure was Worse than the Disease: A Look back on When The Medical Profession Wasn’t so Reliable: ( 4/18/2020)


40. All Aboard!!! The Story of The Old Putnam Railroad In Greenburgh (5/31/2020)

41. Juneteenth: A Day of Liberation (6/6/2020)


42. The Jewel of Greenburgh: The Life of Charles Lewis Tiffany (7/25/2020)

About the Authors:

We are both Assistant Town Historians at Greenburgh Town Hall and we are engaged to be married and are currently looking for permanent employment.

Riley Wentzler:

I was born and raised in a small rural town in central Pennsylvania. In high school, I took every honors course available including four years of Spanish. I received A’s in all of them. I graduated third in my class of 146 students. This brought me to Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Once there, I continued my trend of academic excellence. I graduated summa cum laude in Political Science with a minor in Spanish and a Master’s in Communication Studies, with a G.P.A of 3.94. It was also there that I met my lovely fiancée, Felicia Barber. My Master’s in Communication has promoted public speaking, teamwork, and customer service. My Political Science degree has developed my research skills using computer-based tools and provided me with experience using the Microsoft Office products. My minor in Spanish has facilitated my bilingual capabilities. During my internship at Greenburgh, I created the petition for the State Roads project using website tools. My diverse education and areas of interest have provided me with a wide range of skills. I look forward to finding a career opportunity in business or government. To suggest a topic for next week’s article, you can contact me at assistanthistorian@greenburghny.comor to help me find employment, you can contact me at 


Felicia Barber:

I was born in New York City and raised in Hartsdale, New York. I graduated from Ardsley High School. I recently earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. It was here that I met my fiancé, Riley Wentzler. As a result of my academic excellence, I won a scholarship every year. I learned and applied many graphic design skills to projects during my summer internships and at school. I am proficient in using Adobe graphic design applications including Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. For my Identity/branding course at Edinboro, I created logos to appear on the tee-shirts of Physical Education majors. For a veteran’s upcoming event, I used a typeface to focus the reader to the soldier in the poster. For the State Roads Legislative Campaign project, I created the embedded graphic-photo that accompanied the petition I am looking for a job to utilize my skills as a Graphic Designer in an agency, print shop, company or government To suggest a topic for next week’s article, you can contact me at assistanthistorian@greenburghny.comTo learn more about my artwork or to help me find employment you can contact me at


Two Interviews with the authors:



Editors, E. B. (2019, (NOT GIVEN) (NOT GIVEN)). James Rainwater . Retrieved from The Encyclopedia Britannica:

Kenton, W. (2019, (NOT GIVEN) (NOT GIVEN)). Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM). Retrieved from Investopedia:

Microsoft Corporation. (1993-2003, (Not Given) (Not Given)). Encarta Encyclopedia . Redmond , Washington , United States of America.

Nobel Prize Foundation. (1997, October 13). Robert C. Merton Biographical . Retrieved from The Nobel Prize:

Pace University. (2020, (NOT GIVEN) (NOT GIVEN)). Vanessa H. Merton: Professor of Law. Retrieved from Elizabeth Haub School of Law:

The Nobel Prize Foundation. (1996, October 13). William Vickrey Biographical. Retrieved from The Nobel Prize:

The Nobel Prize Foundation. (1975, October 13). James Rainwater Biographical  Retrieved from The Nobel Prize:

The Nobel Prize Foundation. (1988, October 13). Jack Steinberger Biographical . Retrieved from The Nobel Prize :

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