Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Helena Who?

How many US cities (much less state capitals) are named after women? More than you might think, although origins of many are somewhat obscure. Take Helena, the capital of Montana, that a Wikipedia account notes was possibly named after another town in another state or even another country.
Let's be charitable and a bit imaginative in believing the name was that of a miner's sweetheart since the city was the site long ago of vast fortunes - a treasure hunter's paradise. (The state's motto is Treasure State, and Helena's main street is called Last Chance Gulch.)  These days, the town of some 30,000 boasts both a huge civic auditorium, a symphony and an art museum, with the latter's new executive director just six months out of Washington, D.C.,'s Corcoran. It just so happens that much of the art collection belonging to that august institution on New York Ave. and 17th St. NW came from a former  US  Senator  from the Big Sky state named William Andrews Clark, one of the so-called Copper Kings. Mr. Clark's last surviving daughter died last year at the age of 104, a recluse in New York's Beth Israel Hospital, and left behind legal mess  over her disputed will.
Helena also boasts a capitol building  even Texans would envy if they didn't have such a prominent one of their own: an elegant edifice set on a hill with a view of distant mountains - definitely more mountains than Austin has.
Alas, the mighty New York Times neglected recently to include a single mention of the artistic ambitions of any of Montana's cities in a recent state alphabetical listing of the nation's cultural activities during the coming summer months. Why the lapse?

No comments:

Post a Comment