Students of Manhattan College Preparatory School, “the Prep,” take their dates to a local roller skating rink. Manhattan Prep was the high school attached to the main College. Students of the Prep shared facilities with the College men and shared entertainment like roller skating. Roller skating was an enormously popular recreation in the forties. Despite the rigorous dress codes, rinks were fashionable hangouts for youth at the time. By the 1980s roller skating fell out of fashion and in 1971 Manhattan Prep was closed.
His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Spellman, Brother Bonaventure Thomas, President of Manhattan College and Brother Alexius Victor, Visitor of the New York District of the Christian Brothers, share a good laugh over an impromptu interruption during the Manhattan College Commencement ceremony.
The awards were given out on the very congested Quadrangle. The graduation class of about 441, made up mostly of returning ex-servicemen and WWII veterans and the largest in College history then, together with an additional 53 sisters of ten Catholic orders who had completed studies in the College’s extension program, and five thousand guests rounded out the crowd. The Chapel steps were used as the dais and a tent was pitched to protect the dignitaries. The students and guests sat on the partially tree-shaded Quadrangle on a sunny mid- June day.
The highlight event of Manhattan’s centennial anniversary was held on April 25, 1953. Cardinal Spellman official blessed and dedicated the new Hayden Science Hall and the board of trustees made a special presentation to Mr. J. Willard Hayden. The College had received a half million dollar gift from the Charles Hayden Foundation to finance the new science building.
The whirlwind day, which began with a Pontifical Mass in De La Salle Chapel that paid an eloquent tribute to the prelates, pastors, Christian Brothers and laymen who during one hundred years had built up Manhattan College, continued with an Academic Convocation. Six honorary degrees were conferred on prominent men in religion, business, engineering, medicine and education. The St. La Salle, Manhattan College and Brothers’ Boy medals were also awarded.
In the 1957-58 post-season, Manhattan College stunned crowds by defeating West Virginia, a team designated as number one in the country, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 89-84. The Mountaineers’ were led by future NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West, who the Jaspers held to only 10 points. The two hour penalty-packed game included 61 personal fouls and concluded with four players from each team benched.
During the post-game celebration, the team hoisted Coach Ken Norton on their shoulders and paraded him around Madison Square Garden. In the opinion of the audience and sports writers, the game would never be forgotten for its thrills, suspense, emotionalism and outstanding performances.
Students cram into the one room, 35’ x 35’ original library located in Manhattan Hall (now Miguel Hall). Approximately fifteen students wrangled for every one available seat to study and work on assignments. Squeezed into that space was about 50,000 volumes and a library staff of eight. The following year Cardinal Hayes Library would open to much fanfare and relief!
Eighty years ago Manhattan College students took their first steps through the Cardinal Hayes Library portals. The new facility quickly emerged as a vital center of academic and social life. The library remained the intellectual center of the campus. By the early 2000s, Hayes Library was extensively renovated and expanded and in 2002 re-dedicated as the O’Malley Library. The traditional stack-filled, quiet self-study spaces that were evaluated based on the number of volumes on its shelves, became integrated, mixed-use learning spaces that incorporated sophisticated technologies.
In the early 1980s, the magnitude and importance of computers began to influence the Manhattan College curriculum. The proliferation of personal computers helped introduce computing as an instructional tool in the science and engineering curricula. In 1982, a computer science major was established in the mathematics department.
One year earlier, the College purchased the Sloan Building at 5845 Broadway (3840 Corlear Avenue), a former furniture showroom and warehouse that was eventually developed into the Research and Learning Center (RLC), an academic computer center.
The Benilde Catechist Society sponsored an annual field day for young students in Van Cortandt Park. Local school children arrived on buses or the College station wagon for the big outing. Softball games, foot races, magic displays and a swim in the College pool were some of the activities offered to the young charges.
The Benilde Catechist Society was founded in 1938 by a group of Manhattan College students interested in teaching catechism to underprivileged school children in the local community. The Catechist Society not only sent members to parishes to teach the faith, they also organized fun events and visits to the College campus for the youngsters.
Each year in October, members of the Manhattan College community were welcomed back to campus to celebrate Homecoming. Alumni, friends and family returned to cheer the Jasper teams to victory, to mingle with classmates over cocktails and to enjoy dinner and dancing. A full weekend of activities ranging from masses, tours, exhibitions and athletic games to fashion shows, parties and dinners added to the program of fun. Homecoming was one of the most popular Jasper traditions throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s but its prominence waned by the late 1980s.
In the fall semester of 1965, Jasper pride was on full display. Football returned to Manhattan after a twenty-three- year absence, thanks to the motivated spirit of the student body. A small group of physical education majors pushed the administration to establish a club football team. While the administration approved the measure, it would offer not financial support. Within weeks, students raised the necessary funds to furnish and administer a club team. The Jasper football club played its first game on Saturday, October 16, 1965, homecoming day in Gaelic park to an enthusiastic audience of about six hundred alumni and students. The Jasper football club made its debut with a 20-14 win over the New York University football club.
Civil engineering students head out on a surveying mission while attending Manhattan Camp on Crystal Lake in upstate New York during the summer of 1937. Summer surveying camp offered a more intensive experience and extensive application of the principles studied in civil engineering.
Manhattan Camp was organized by the engineering faculty around the turn of the twentieth century and for decades provided an opportunity for students to expand their engineering training. Camp life was primarily topical surveying but it also presented ideal conditions for swimming and outdoor recreation during the summer vacation. It was held in upstate New York at various locations over the years including Schroon Lake, St. Joseph’s, Crystal Lake and Raquette Lake. Because of changes in the engineering curriculum and the College culture, by the late 1960s, the camp was phased out.
In the post-World War II era, Manhattan College hosted international students though training and education programs. Young men from Hungary, Japan and Germany helped enrich and enlarge the horizons of the College community. The programs created a range of opportunities for prospective leaders. It encouraged young foreign men to come to the United States as students and guests, where they might work to attain professional competence in an atmosphere which displayed our system of democracy “at work”.
The programs also created ties of permanent mutual value between the U.S. and foreign institutions. After completing their training and education, many students joined the general workforce and settled into American society, though some returned to their home countries.