Biography of Louis F. Haffen
Bronx County, NY Biographies





LOUIS F. HAFFEN - As a resident of The Bronx for more than seventy two years, Louis F. Haffen has been the recipient of the highest honors within the gift of the borough, having within the same period served the Metropolis and the State in a manner that has reflected credit upon his profession of civil and consulting engineer, in the practice of which he has become well known far beyond the confines of his immediate jurisdiction. For twelve years he was president of the Borough of The Bronx, and in that office distinguished himself for executive and administrative ability, achieving gratifying large results for the physical and educational and political betterment of the community at large. The people of the borough have delighted to do him honor who all through the years of his residence among them has had their interests very much at heart. His professional and scholastic attainments, carrying four college degrees, have brought him into high esteem throughout the city, and he is accounted one of the best informed men on Bronx history to be found in the county and borough.

Mr. Haffen was born November 6, 1854, in a house at the northwest corner of Elton Street and Courtlandt Avenue (now East One Hundred and Fifty second Street and Courtlandt Avenue), village of Melrose, town of West Farms (incorporated as Morrisania, 1856), County of Westchester, New York now The Bronx, New York City. His father was Mathias Haffen, a native of Germany, whose wife was Catherine Hays, a daughter of Erin. They married and settled in Long Island, whence they came in 1850 to live in The Bronx. The elder Mr. Haffen was for many years a dairy farmer and later was engaged in the business of brewing. They were wholesome, clean living folk, good neighbors and respected members of the community. They cast in their lot with the people of The Bronx with a fine spirit of cooperation, and reared their family in the nurture and admonition of their religious faith, at the same time making it a point to see their children embrace the best educational advantages at their command.

Louis F. Haffen attended the village school in .Melrose, from 1860 to 1866, and the town public school in Morrisania from 1866 to 1868. He then entered Fordham College, where he was a student from 1868 to 1869, after which he went to Niagara College, and from 1869 to 1871 was a student there. Returning to Fordham, he was a student there for a full four year course, graduating in the class of 1873. He pursued his studies still higher, for four years at Columbia College, graduating in 1879. He was honored with the degrees of Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, Civil Engineer and Doctor of Laws.

In 1879, the year of his graduation from Columbia, Mr. Haffen engaged in the practice of his profession of civil engineer and surveyor, being thus occupied until 1883, one year, 1881, passed in the West, and then received an appointment as engineer of the Department of Public Parks of New York City, holding that office from 1883 to 1893. He now was on the highroad of advance in the public service; and in 1893 was made commissioner of street improvements, for the Twenty third and Twenty fourth wards, New York City, in which capacity he remained for five years, his work bringing him prominently and favorably before the city and the immediate community. In 1898 he was elevated to the presidency of the Borough of The Bronx, and during his tenure of twelve years in that office was instrumental in bringing about one of the greatest, if not the greatest, periods of community betterment in the history of the borough. At the end of his term as president, in 1910, he returned to the private practice of his profession, and so continued until 1912, when he entered upon the duties of superintendent computer in the Tax Department of the State of New York, an office which he held until 1913. The succeeding two years he was engaged in private practice, and in 1915 served as a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention. From 1916 to 1918 he was again engaged in practicing his profession in a private capacity, and from that time to the present he has been consulting engineer in The Bronx, where his advice on engineering problems is much in demand and highly prized by his clientele.

Mr. Haffen's non professional activities have taken him into numerous associations, business, social, political and educational. He is identified with many organizations; president of the Bronx County Property Owners' and Business Men's Association, and president, since 1911, of The Bronx "Old Timers" Association. He is a member of The Bronx Board of Trade, of which he was an organizer in 1894; member of the Democratic State Committee for the past twenty five or thirty years; member of The Bronx Democratic County Committee; sachem of the "Columbian Order" for the past twenty odd years; member of the Knights of Columbus and affiliated with the American patriotic societies. He is a member of the Engineering Society of New York, the Columbia, Fordham and Niagara Colleges Alumni associations, the Archaeological, Arts and Science Association, The Bronx Exempt Firemen's Association, the Royal Arcanum and the Samoset Democratic Club of The Bronx. He is a communicant of the Immaculate Conception (Roman Catholic) Church, Melrose Avenue and East One Hundted and Fiftieth Street.

Louis F. Haffen married, in January, 1886, in Melrose (now The Bronx), Caroline Kurz, daughter of Paul and Mary Kurz. To them have been born nine children, four sons and the only daughter surviving; two sons were given by their parents for service in the United States Army, and in which they lost their lives.

From:
The Bronx and its people
A History 1609-1927
Board of Editors: James L. Wells,
Louis F. Haffen
Josiah A. Briggs.
Historian: Benedict Fitspatrick
Publisher: The Lewis Historical Publishing Co., Inc.
New York 1927


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