Hoover, J. Edgar

Hoover, J. Edgar

Hoover, J. Edgar (John Edgar Hoover), 1895-1972, American administrator, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), b. Washington, D.C. Shortly after he was admitted to the bar, he entered (1917) the Dept. of Justice and served (1919-21) as special assistant to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. In this capacity he directed the so-called Palmer Raids against allegedly radical aliens. Director of the Bureau of Investigation (renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935) after 1924, Hoover built a more efficient crime-fighting agency, establishing a centralized fingerprint file, a crime laboratory, and a training school for police. During the 1930s, to publicize the work of his agency in fighting organized crime, he participated directly in the arrest of several major gangsters. After World War II, Hoover focused on the perceived threat of Communist subversion. In office until his death, he became increasingly controversial. His many critics considered his anticommunism obsessive, and it has been verified that he orchestrated systematic harassment of political dissenters and activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr. Hoover accumulated enormous power, in part from amassing secret files on the activities and private lives of political leaders and their associates. After his death reforms designed to prevent these abuses were undertaken. His writings include Persons in Hiding (1938), Masters of Deceit (1958), and A Study of Communism (1962).

See biographies by T. G. Powers (1987) and A. G. Theoharis (1988); D. J. Garrow, The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1981); K. O'Reilly, Hoover and the Un-Americans (1983); A. G. Theoharis and J. S. Cox, The Boss (1988); B. Burrough, Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34 (2004).

The J. Edgar Hoover Building is in Washington, D.C.. It is the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The building, named for former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, is located at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The FBI building is not open to the public; guided tours of the building were discontinued in 1999.


Since 1908, when the Bureau was part of the Department of Justice (as the Bureau of Investigation), the FBI had been headquartered in the Department of Justice Building. In April 1962, Congress approved the construction of a separate building for the FBI. The General Services Administration allocated funding for the project, and design began. The GSA appointed Berswenger, Hoch, Arnold, and Associates for engineering, and Charles F. Murphy and Associates as an architectural firm.

The design was finalized in 1964, and construction began on December 6, 1967. The naming was authorized by President Richard Nixon on May 4, 1972, two days after Hoover's death. Employees moved into the facility between June 28, 1974, and June 1977. President Gerald Ford officially dedicated the building on September 30, 1975.


The building was constructed in a Brutalist architectural style, the entire exterior having been constructed from poured concrete. Like most Brutalist buildings, it has suffered criticism for aesthetics and functionality. Washingtonian magazine named it one of the "Buildings I'd Tear Down," along with the Kennedy Center. Elvis performed on the front steps of the building.

According to the plans, the building contains 2,800,876 square feet (260,201 m²) of floor space for 7,090 employees.

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