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Frederick Robinson, who would become CCNY’s fifth President, teaches an extension course.

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President Sidney Mezes escorts Albert Einstein from Shepard Hall after his 1921 lecture.

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1926 Commencement in The Great Hall.

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1934 rally on Quad for reinstatement of students expelled for protesting a visit by fascists from Italy.

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Renovated lunch room in the basement of Shepard Hall in 1942.

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A quieter moment on the Quad in 1951 captures the Campus’ idyllic setting.

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Baseball team practicing in Lewisohn Stadium in 1952.  Shepard Hall is at rear.

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In 1962, registration was held in The Great Hall.

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Students entering and leaving Shepard Hall in 1972.

Growing for the City
A huge ceremony to dedicate the new, $6.5 million campus was held in the spring of 1908.  It drew participation from such dignitaries as Mark Twain, Secretary of Commerce and Labor Oscar Strauss (representing President Theodore Roosevelt) and Mrs. Grover Cleveland, who rang the bell in the Great Hall Tower to formally dedicate the College. 

“It was not that long ago that the College of the City of New York was little more than a glorified high school,” New York City Mayor George B. McClellan Jr. told those assembled.  “Thanks to the energy and devotion of its trustees, thanks to the generosity of our taxpayers, thanks to the executive ability, the tact and sincerity of its president, John Finley, it is today a college in fact as well as in name, with a plant second to none in the United States.[1]

Edwin M. Shepard, President of the College’s Board of Trustees, suggested that the new campus would be a springboard for further growth.  “What has thus far been done makes easy on these very heights that increase in college work with the Greater and still Greater New York.”[2]

Shepard’s comments were prescient.  Under President Finley’s leadership, the College grew both in enrollment and stature.  By 1911, total enrollment (college, prep and extension classes) had reached 7,998 versus 3,245 in 1904.  Finley also strived to widen the College’s influence in New York by hosting lectures and other public functions.  “By the time Finley left City College, the people of New York had become accustomed to regarding the Great Hall as one of the important places of assembly.”[3]

The new campus also had a profoundly positive effect upon student morale.  In 1914, the editors of Microcosm, the College yearbook, wrote: “The past few years have seen the beginning of a new epoch in our College.  There has arisen a new social spirit that has exhibited itself unmistakably.”[4]

During this period, the College also underwent the first of several shifts in the demographics of its student body.  Increasingly, its students came from Jewish families that had experienced persecution and discrimination in Eastern and Central Europe.  For them, “the College represented not only a heaven-sent opportunity for a higher education, but also an open door to social and economic advancement.”[5]

Within two decades of the campus’ completion, City College would consist of four schools located in Hamilton Heights and the original site in Midtown.  It would also have a thriving Evening Division and branch campus in Brooklyn. 

Lewisohn Stadium, opened in 1915, would provide an outdoor venue for sporting events, commencement ceremonies and a popular summer concert series.  During the 1930s, a second technology building (Goethals Hall) and a library were added.  The campus would expand again with the acquisitions of Klapper Hall in 1946 to house the School of Education and the old Manhattanville College campus in 1950, which extended the southern boundary to West 130th Street.

[1] The Evening Post, May 14, 1908, “City College Bell Rings”

[2] The New York Times, May 15, 1908, “Jubilee Dedication for City College”

[3] S. Willis Rudy, The College of the City of New York: A History, 1847 – 1947, 1949, The City College Press, p. 308.

[4] Microcosm, 1914.

[5] Rudy, Op. Cit., p. 293

100 Years on Hamilton Heights
Credits | Copyright © The City College of New York, 2007.