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Born in Manhattan, she attended Vassar College before transferring to Barnard College, where she graduated in 1933. She married lawyer Randolph Guggenheimer of Guggenheimer, Untermyer and Marshall in 1932.
Guggenheimer founded the Day Care Council of New York in 1948, followed by the National Day Care and Child Development Council in 1958. An urban planner, she became the first woman to join the New York City Planning Commission in 1961. In 1969 she ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic Party primary to be their candidate for president of the New York City Council. Her activism in the Women's movement led her to create the New York Women's Forum in 1973, and she served as commissioner of consumer affairs in the 1970s. In 1979, Guggennheimer founded the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City and served as its first Executive Director. Later, Guggenheimer founded the New York Women's Agenda in 1992 and the Council of Senior Centers and Services.
Her philanthropy focused on women, the elderly, and Jewish causes. Guggenheimer wrote the books Planning for Parks and Recreation in Urban Areas and an instructional manual for entertaining called The Pleasure of Your Company. Her 1983 musical Potholes had a short run off-Broadway.
She is an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
- Nemy, Enid (December 19, 1973). To Elinor Guggenheimer, Affluence Is No Excuse to Take It Easy. The New York Times
- Martin, Douglas (September 30, 2008). Elinor Guggenheimer, Advocate for Women, Children and the Elderly, Dies at 96. The New York Times
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