Cornell Construction Updates, June 2014

4 07 2014

Three sets of Cornell updates in this post – the law school addition is complete, Klarman Hall excavation is underway, and a picture from the Statler Hall renovation (which Jason just posted about).

The law school addition, by Boston-based Ann Beha Architects and constructed by Welliver, is part of the multi-phased renovation of the law school, which began in 2012. The cost of the renovation is begged at $55-60 million, with 40,000 sq ft of new space and 160,000 sq ft of renovated space. The architects specialize in contemporary additions sympathetic to present facilities – arguably, one of the few parts of Cornell where this was deemed an important matter (looking at you, Hotel School).

The Hotel School addition is phase three of renovations, adding a modern entrance to Statler Hall. The glassy entrance will add 1,619 sq ft at a cost of $2.4 million, and should be complete in time for the fall semester.

Klarman Hall, given its notable location behind Goldwin Smith, is the campus project du jour, sporting 67,500 sq ft of space (33,250 sq ft usable) and a $61 million price tag. Foundation footings will be completed by early august, and foundation pouring by mid September. Final construction will wrap up in December 2015, as posted on the sign below.

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Apparently naming green spaces is fashionable. I thought that Pew Quad and Rawlings Green would be the extent of it.

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News Tidbits 6/12/14: Predisposed to Being Opposed

13 06 2014

Some things are worth mentioning, but not necessarily worth their own post. So here we go…

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1. The rather suburban Troy Road development has begun the long road to obtaining construction approval, prodding the town of Ithaca to grant a planned development zone, or PDZ, so they can have leeway on the layout and variety of housing on the property. The proposed development has whittled itself down from 216 to 166 units, and gone are the 26 lots for the single-family homes (leaving 90 apartments, 60 town homes, and 16 patio homes; the developer indicates the apartments will be 1 and 2-bedroom and shooting for the middle-income bracket ($1,000/month), and the patio homes will be geared towards seniors). As with virtually every other project proposed in recent memory, this one has its share of opposition, for which the town board has some sharp words (the current zoning is actually worse, it allows for a sprawl-tastic 154 units spread out over the entire property). The 166 units would be clustered on 22 acres, just under one-third of the space. The developer (Rural Housing Preservation Associates) submitted a detailed market and traffic study to the town, and seems to be trying its darnedest to gain that PDZ. However, that requires 6 town board members to say yes, and only 4 felt so inclined at the June 9th meeting. Look for this one to continue to evolve over the summer.

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2. Normally, I could care less about a single house. Looking at the map above, it seems the surveyor of this East Ithaca lot had a liquid lunch. The owners of 209 Tudor, who own the inaccessible lot, want to adjust the lot line so that both have a similar amount of road frontage, with the intent of selling off the extra lot for the construction of a new home.

As things would have it, the neighbors were vociferously opposed. It was claimed that it would negatively impact the character of the neighborhood. The lot is surrounded by houses on adjacent lots. Sigh. Since the complaints were more building issues than zoning issues, the ZBA approved the lot revision. The new lot is for sale for $55k.

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3. Some readers might recall a house burning in Collegetown back in March. 202 Eddy’s destruction left 12 students homeless, and a historic structure in ruins. The developer vowed to rebuild, and according to these documents filed with the city’s ILPC, he looks to make good on his vow. An entrance door will be repositioned, the emergency stairs will be gone, and a chimney will not be rebuilt, but otherwise, its a near-replica to the original. The architect-of-record is Jagat Sharma, who has previous experience from the reconstruction of Sigma Pi’s house when it burnt down in 1995. The ILPC has to approve this, so there could be some tweaks; but I doubt they’ll be significant.

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4. There are 13 different PDFs detailing the Gannett expansion and the construction phases on the city’s website. I don’t even want to go through it all. In a nutshell – 22,400 sq ft of renovated current space, and 73,600 sq ft of new space. 175 construction jobs, and Gannett expects to add 40 new permanent jobs, mostly physicians, counselors, and related personnel. Projected construction cost will be $25.5 million, and go from March 2015 to October 2017.

5. Has 7 Ridgewood really been through six different designs? Holy Christmas.





News Tidbits 6/6/14: 115 The Knoll Finally Sells

6 06 2014
Photo courtesy of LoopNet

Photo courtesy of LoopNet

This house continues to fascinate me, given its highly changeable occupancy and ownership. Back in January, I noted that the house was up for sale for $1.35 million. In the same time frame, one of the recent occupants, campus Christian group Chesterton House, launched a $1,000,000 capital campaign to buy two Greek houses for use as men and women’s housing (the women’s housing is called Sophia House).

Looks like that capital campaign was successful – according to the finalized property sales just published, the LLC that owns 115 The Knoll sold the property to Chesterton House’s LLC on May 22nd for $1.15 million. In other words, Chesterton House now owns the house, and intends to operate it as their men’s residence. The operator of the selling LLC made a killing on the sale; while it’s down from the $1.35 million originally requested, it’s still a heck of a lot more than the $700,000 it sold for in January 2010. Looks like the rough ownership is Delta Phi Epsilon sorority pre-2010, O’Connor Apts. 2010-2014, and now Chesterton House.

This will probably wrap up my writing on this property for a while, but I doubt it will be the last I write about Chesterton House: they’re still looking for another “Greek-style” house to purchase and become the permanent home of the women’s Christian center.

 





Cornell’s Presidential Credentials

2 05 2014

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Making its rounds in the news over the past couple of months, Cornell’s president, David Skorton, is leaving the gorges of Ithaca to be the secretary (head) of the Smithsonian down in Washington D.C. The departure of Skorton in June 2015 will give him a tenure of about nine years, which as Cornell presidents go, is about average. Considering how many college presidents view their institutions as stepping stones, trying to get out of a place as soon as they have a year under their belt and another line on the resume (Excelsior, I suppose), Cornell’s not doing all that badly in this respect. Of course, this also opens up the task of trying to find Skorton’s successor, a task that is by no means an easy one.

In a meeting about what to look for in the next president, an audience member expressed that they would be very disappointed if all the candidates were white men. I hope the candidates aren’t all old white dudes, but I suspect this is mostly going to be a battle of credentials. In that vein, I decided to take a look at the credentials of Cornell’s past president, prior to their hire.

Andrew Dickson White – Hard to use here because he co-founded Cornell, so the circumstances aren’t comparable to other presidents. A.D. White’s resume prior to Cornell includes a B.A. and an M.A. from Yale, a stint working as a translator for the U.S. ambassador to Russia, a professorship at U. Michigan, and at the time of Cornell’s founding, a state senator out of Syracuse. Six years after his term at Cornell was voluntarily concluded in 1885, he had been asked to serve as the first president of Stanford University, but declined.

Charles Kendall Adams – Assistant professor at Michigan, 1863-1867, then full professor from 1867-1885. He was a former student and close colleague of A.D. White. Adams’s time at Cornell was a tumultuous and unhappy one, and he resigned due to conflicts with the Board of Trustees in 1892, after only seven years of service. His nine years that followed at U. Wisconsin would be much more amicable.

Jacob Gould Schurman – Professor, Acadia College (Canada), 1880-1882; Professor, Dalhousie College, 1882-1886; Professor, Cornell University, 1886-1892. Dean of the Sage School of Philosophy, 1891-1892. Schurman had the longest tenure of any president, at 28 years (1892-1920).

Livingston Farrand – M.D., Columbia, 1891. Doctor of Laws (LL.D.), Cambridge and Berlin, 1893. Adjunct professor of psychology, Columbia, member of multiple anthropological expeditions to the Pacific Northwest. Full professor of anthropology at Columbia, 1903-1914. President of U.Colorado, 1914-1919. Treasurer of the American Public Health Association (1912-1914), Executive Secretary for a tuberculosis prevention group (1905), Director in France for the International Health Board, 1917-1919. Chairman of the American Red Cross. Cornell president, 1921-1937; he died in Manhattan two years later.

Edmund Ezra Day – Degrees in economics, BA and MA from Dartmouth, PhD from Harvard. From 1923, professor at U. Michigan, where he would advance to become first dean of their business school, and dean of the university. President of Cornell 1937-1949. He passed away shortly after his resignation. the interim president, provost Cornelis de Kiewiet, would act as president for two years before a successor was approved. He would leave that same year to serve out a decade as president of the Univ. of Rochester.

Deane Malott – B.A. in economics from U. Kansas and a Harvard M.B.A. Assistant Dean/Assistant Professor at Harvard, 1923-1929. Vice President, Hawaiian Pineapple Company (now Dole), 1929-1934. Professor, Harvard, 1934-1939. Chancellor, U. Kansas, 1939-1951. Sat on numerous corporate boards. Deane Malott served 12 years at Cornell, 1951-1963, before he retired. Malott was noted as an excellent fund-raiser, and although personally a social conservative, he had a liberal approach to Cornell’s intellectual pursuits.

James Perkins – Degrees in political science from Swarthmore (BA) and Princeton (PhD). Professor, Princeton, 1937-1941. Administrator, United States Office of Price Administration and the Foreign Economic Administration, 1941-1945. Vice president, Swarthmore, 1945-1950. Vice President, Carnegie Corporation (an educational foundation), 1950-1963. Perkins served as president for six years, 1963-1969, before stepping down in the aftermath of the Willard Straight takeover. Afterwards, he served as the chairman and CEO of the International Council for Educational Development for 20 years.

Dale Corson – BA (Emporia College), MA (U. Kansas), PhD (Physics, U.C. Berkeley, 1938).  Co-discoverer of the element astatine. Helped to develop radar during WWII. Associate professor of physics, Cornell, 1947-1956. Full professor, 1956. Dean of the Engineering School, 1959-1963. Provost of Cornell, 1963-1969. Appointed president after Perkins’s resignation, Corson was considered a mild-mannered scientist who provided stability to the university through the 1970s. After eight years, Corson resigned as president in 1977, becoming Chancellor and then appointed president emeritus.

Frank H.T. Rhodes – U. Birmingham (UK), BA,MA, PhD (Geology, 1951). Fulbright Scholar, U. Illinois, 1950-1951. Professor of geology, U. Durham (UK), 1951-1954. Assistant professor, U. Illinois, 1954-1955. Associate Professor, U. Illinois, 1955-1956. Geology. Dept head, U. Wales-Swansea (UK), 1956-1967. Dean of science, U. Wales-Swansea, 1967-1968. Visiting research scholar, Ohio State, 1965-66. Professor, U. Michigan, 1968-1971. Dean, College of Literature, Science and the Arts at U. Michigan, 1971-1974. Vice president of academic affairs, U. Michigan, 1974-1977. Frank Rhodes served as Cornell president from 1977-1995. He is a professor emeritus of the geology department and still lives in Ithaca.

Hunter R. Rawlings III – B.A. (Classics, Haverford College, 1966), PhD (Classics, Princeton, 1970). Associate Professor, U. Colorado-Boulder, 1970-1980. Dean of classics dept., U. Colorado-Boulder, 1978-1980. Recipient of U. Colorado teaching excellence award, 1979.  Full professor, U. Colorado, 1980-1988. Associate vice chancellor, 1980-1984. President, U. Iowa, 1988-1995. Rawlings served as president of Cornell from 1995 to 2003, and later as the interim president between Lehman and Skorton. Rawlings was known as a strong fundraiser, but was criticized for his hands-off approach to the university. He continues a professor at Cornell, and is also the president of the American Association of Universities.

Jeffrey Lehman – the only one with Cornell in his pedigree prior to his presidency. BA, Cornell (mathematics, 1977). J.D. and an M.P.P. (Master of Public Policy), U. Michigan, 1981. Law clerk to Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (1982-83),  Lawyer, Caplin & Drysdale, 1983-1987, Assistant law professor, U. Michigan, 1987-1992, Professor of law/law and public policy, 1992-2003, Dean of U. Michigan law school, 1994-2003. Lehman served only two years as Cornell president before suddenly stepping down due to disagreements with the trustees; what specifically caused the rift remains a subject of debate. He continued as a Cornell law professor until 2012, and is now the vice chancellor of NYU Shanghai.

David Skorton – BS (Psychology, Northwestern, 1970), M.D. (Northwestern, 1974). Medical residency in cardiology, UCLA. Instructor, U. Iowa, 1980. Assistant Professor in internal medicine, U. Iowa, 1981. Assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering, U. Iowa, 1982. Vice president of research, U. Iowa, 1992. Vice president for research and external relations, U. Iowa, 2002. Chancellor, U. Iowa, 2003-2006.

So if the latest presidents are any indicator, they’re going to have a lot of education, a lot of titles on their resume, and more likely than not, hail from a large state school. Given our trend for Iowans, has anyone contacted Sally Mason yet?

 

 

 

 





The Keyword Bar XXI

11 04 2014

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I figured I had two options at the moment – write about all the Chain Works District news, or do one of my tried-and-true keyword bar articles, where I examine and comment/answer on searches that led folks to this site. Well, I’m holding off on the Chain Works discussion, until some of the materials presented start floating around one of the local government websites (city of Ithaca, town of Ithaca, or county), and can be reused here. So in the meanwhile-

1. “what frat can ithaca college students join” 4-9-2014 and “ithaca college sorority options” 4-2-2014
Officially, IC offers a few professional music fraternities, but there are a couple of social Greek chapters that are based at IC but are not officially affiliated with the college. Rarely, IC students join Cornell University Greek organizations, though it’s normally no more than 10 IC students per year. Many of these are in the MGLC, fraternities and sororities that focus on minority groups, but a couple do join chapters affiliated with Cornell’s IFC (I don’t know if Pan-Hellenic allows sororities to recruit IC students; maybe in the informal fall rush). These students aren’t allowed to serve in leadership positions in most chapters, and I imagine the trek between campuses gets old after a while.
2. “cornell snow graduation” 4-8-2014

Thankfully, there’s nothing to worry about. According to the NRCC, the latest snow of any amount (trace or higher) in Ithaca occurred on May 18th (1973). With graduation traditionally at the end of May, the possibility of snow is very remote. Winter graduation is a different story.

3. “proposed south hill development town of ithaca” 4-7-2014.

That would be the Troy Road development. Which from a planning/land use perspective, I become less and less a fan of every time I see it. But then, I prefer New Urbanist planning, not suburban cut-and-paste development. I just keep reminding myself that the current zoning is worse, and the town has a poor track record in raining in sprawl.

4. “is there any problem of construction in collegetown terrace” 4-4-2014

Jason over at Ithaca Builds would know this better than I, but as far as I’m aware, there’s been no indication of construction issues. Perhaps the parking isn’t being utilized as much as they thought it would, but that has more to do with planning than construction.

5. “the cradit-moore house” 4-1-2014

Actually, this one has a pretty cool story attached. The Cradit-Moore house dates from 1817, with an addition built in 1860-61. The older north wing was built by Issac Cradit, and the south wing by Peter Kline (the Kline family were locally prominent farmers who held a lot of land, and its where Kline and Klinewoods Roads take their name from). The house was bought in 1938 by Dr. and Mrs. Norman Moore. Dr. Moore was the director of the Cornell U. infirmary, and in 1948, the Moores sold the house to Cornell but with the condition that they could live out the rest of their days in the home. When Cornell began plans to expand North Campus with CKB and Appel back in the late 1990s, the original intent was to demolish the house. This caused substantial protest, and working with the non-profit preservation group Historic Ithaca, Cornell donated the house away in 2000 and Historic Ithaca loaded the house, all in one piece, onto a flatbed truck and hauled it .3 miles to a new foundation on a lot donated by Cornell further up Pleasant Grove Road. The house was then sold to a private owner to recuperate the moving costs, the new foundation and landscaping.

Image property of Historic Ithaca

Image property of Historic Ithaca

6. “tunnel barton teagle” 3-25-2014

It exists, though like many of Cornell’s tunnels, it doesn’t appear to be open for public use.





Fast Facts: Cornell Employee Headcounts

25 03 2014

All figures come from the Cornell University Factbook.

I’ll lead off with a breakdown of overall number of employees. Faculty and academic staff have been discussed previously, but for consistency’s sake, their numbers are included here in their separate sub categories. In other words, the total number of Cornell employees is faculty + academic staff + non-academic staff. These figures don’t include Weill Cornell, but do include the Geneva research facility and the tech campus in New York City, (the tech campus had 7 employees in 2012 and 15 in 2013). Student and temp employees are not counted either. All figures were taken from November 1 of the year displayed.

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In terms of raw numbers and in percentage, it’s pretty clear that non-academic staff were the ones that decreased the most in the midst of the Great Recession. The big plummet comes from 2008 to 2009, where the number of non-academic staff dropped from 7,707 to 7,038, an 8.7% drop. Combined with the losses in employment in faculty and academic staff, the drop in employment that year was from 10,548 to 9,786. Today, the number of total employees is even lower, at 9,731. Meanwhile, student enrollment has continued to climb.

Cornell had a few different tricks up its sleeve to decrease the numbers so sharply. The primary constituent was a retirement incentive package. If you worked at Cornell for over 10 years and were 55 or older, the university was willing to give an employee a lump sum payment (one year’s pay) and an enhanced retirement account payment (30% of what was in the account), provided that the individual retired by the end of June 2009. According to their press release, 432 people accepted the offer. As I recall from my job at the Cornell Store, at least three of the full-time store employees had accepted the package. Another 200 accepted in 2009-2010. Of the 669 positions, at least 105 were layoffs. A Sun article from 2011 details the results of these cuts, including concerns of low morale and overburdening certain departments. It also notes that cuts were expected to continue through 2015, which given the numbers out since then, looks to be pretty accurate. For the curious, the average salary of a non-academic full-time staffer at Cornell was $33,885 in 2007.

Looking at the numbers in greater detail, we can take further nuggets of information from the figures. For fall 2013, for instance, there were 7,070 non-academic staff. Of those 7,070, 4,130 (58.42%) are female, and 6,193 (87.60%) are white. There are 479 part-timers, or 6.78% of the total non-academic staff workforce.

The types of non-academic staff can be broken down into subcategories, both for occupational group and by organizational sector. For occupational groups, the subdivisions are clerical/secretary, executive/admin/managerial, other professional, service and maintenance, skilled crafts, and technical/paraprofessional. For organizational sector, the subdivisions are “Colleges, Research, Library, Other Academic Units, Student and Academic Services, Facilities Services, and Other Administrative Units”.

Job Groups

Org Sector

Speaking broadly and looking at proportions alone, if you work in research or in an administrative position, you’ve fared pretty well since the big slimdown five years ago. If you’re a skilled craftsman or fall into the vague term of “other academic unit”, the prospects haven’t been as sunny. The big employers in gross are secretaries and the grab-bag called “other professionals”, in colleges and “other administrative units”. I presume a lot of secretaries have been replaced by Ms. Google and her friends.

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In this Cornell-provided chart, if you split up the colleges by headcount, the Vet School and CALS appears to have taken the biggest cutbacks, although AAP took a big hit percentage-wise. Hotel, HumEc, the Johnson and the Law Schools employ more now than they did at the 2008 peak.

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Lastly, even with the retirement incentive, the employee population continues to grey. In 2001, 12.4% of non-academic staff were 55 or older; by fall 2013 it’s doubled to over 25%. In sum, while the student population goes up, the staff population is generally decreasing and trending older.

 





ATO and Campus Living Are Awkward Partners

13 03 2014

When this blog started, I think Alpha Tau Omega (henceforth ATO) was the first renovation in progress that I had ever taken note of, in mid-summer 2008. Here was a before pic, which dates from July 3rd, 2008.

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Here’s an after pic, which dates from August 15th, 2008.
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The house had had structural issues that were fixed before this blog started, and the external renovations were finishing up when the first photo was taken. I assume the repaint was all that was left to do.

ATO was one of two fraternities that closed in the summer of 2013, the other being Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT). In both cases, the closing was called for by their nationals, who were displeased with the quality and conduct of their Cornell chapters. This article notes that ATO’s alumni group hoped to rent the house to graduate students while they wait for the chapter’s return (generally, that means that all the once-current members have graduated). ZBT is targeting a return in 2014/2015. The process isn’t new, Kappa Sigma did the same thing from 2010 to 2012. I’ll even go as far as to suggest that someday, another couple years from now, Sigma Alpha Epsilon will make a return to Cornell, though Hillcrest is being used as a dorm in the meanwhile (I dunno if they’ll ever be back in 122 McGraw, which is owned by Cornell; I tried checking Kappa Sig’s house for reference, and couldn’t find anything. But I do see that they liked my photo so much it’s on the front page of their website, guy standing on the roof and all).

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Anyway, reading the Cornell is leasing the house for the upcoming year is no big surprise. In fact, it brings back memories of my friends in 112 Edgemoor. Edgemoor was a fraternity house until 1985, when Triangle closed. Being purchased by Cornell some time earlier, it became a small dorm. The fact that most of my meteo friends even ended up in Edgemoor is kinda my fault. A bunch of my meteorology classmates wanted to go in together on a suite on West Campus. When I found out I would have to be on a Cornell meal plan, I balked; I wanted to be on my fraternity’s meal plan for dinners and manage my own (cheaper) lunches. When I caused that suite plan to fall through, a lot of them went into Edgemoor, and a couple others gravitated towards that group and moved in as well. I think meteorologists and their friends made up about half of Edgemoor’s residents, and there were about 21 at the time. I spent more time there than my own dorm (and Cascadilla and Edgemoor were close to each other at least). It was a nice house, but from my own observation, almost everyone else in Edgemoor saw it as just a place to sleep.  For the student in the article that hopes for more intimate social connections, I would set the expectations low but hope for the best. For the record, I don’t have high opinions of ATO either. Some years back, ATO thought it was a good idea to take my freshman roommate to Kuma Charmers as a rush activity. He came back with bruises on his legs from what he described as the worst lap dance ever. My roommate ended up joining a different house. Furthermore, I went there once to meet him after one of their events, and the inside of the house was in shambles, with a giant pile of wood furniture tossed helter-skelter in a corner, and broken glass everywhere. So someone describing the house as a health hazard is no surprise either.

I think that unless people already have connections to their housemates, that the intimacy of non-specialized small group housing is overrated; upperclassmen have generally built their social networks and have their coteries. I don’t imagine Cornell’s thrilled to have to clean house, nor ATO to have it occupied by someone that’s not an active membership. But this is better than an empty house, the cleanup is appreciated, and I suppose that at least a couple dozen fewer people won’t have to do the manic search for off-campus housing.





A Walk Down Varick Street

4 03 2014

I try and keep in track of the hotlinks to this site from other blogs. A while back, I noticed a link from a little-used community blog for Ithaca’s Lower Northside, aptly named lowernorthside.org. I decide to check it out, and stumbled upon a map it had included in one of its (few) posts. It’s an atlas of the Ithaca area dating from 1866. When Cornell U. was still a dream under construction, and Ithaca had yet to be incorporated as a city (something that wouldn’t happen until 1888). A lot has changed in 128 years, and it’s really a fascinating look back on an older incarnation of the city of gorges.

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Clicking on the image will pull up the fine print, or just follow the link above. Unfortunately, the commercial version of wordpress this blog uses doesn’t allow for embedded PDFs, otherwise I’d have cut out the extra step. Of course, for the sake of following along, here’s a map of the current-ish city of Ithaca.

In 1866, Ithaca was much smaller, posting a population in 1870 of 8,462, a number that probably had a bit of help from the newly opened Cornell U. and its 400 or so students. Tompkins county was only one-third of its present population, with about 33,000 people. The county had seen a massive population decline in the 1850s and was only just beginning to recover during this decade.

Ithaca was, as today, “centrally isolated”, having been bypassed for a major railroad in favor of Syracuse. However, the Cayuga branch of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western railroad had its terminus in the city, and there were steamboats one could take down Cayuga if they were coming out of the north. Ithaca was still expanding in all directions, yet to fill out Fall Creek or the Northside, and barely reaching where Collegetown is today. The small hamlet of Forest Home was still known by its original name, Free Hollow, and at the cruxes of dirt roads, small clusters of houses, churches, and small schoolhouses can be seen. A nice asset here is the inclusion of homeowners’ names; we see names that still live on as place and street names in Ithaca today, like Bryant (Park neighborhood), Coddington (Road), Renwick (Place/Drive/Heights Road), and Mitchell (Street). Ezra’s land is nearly vacant except for his own home, his farmland having but a few roads; and IC and South Hill are barer still.  Cascadilla Place is there, completing construction the year this map was made; the water-cure sanitarium was never used as such since Ezra Cornell, its biggest investor, swooped in and repurposed the structure.

Another notable name on the larger map, though perhaps not as important today, is Heustis. College Avenue used to be called Heustis Street, after landowner Lorenzo Heustis. The name was changed at the urging of local property owners in 1908. Similarly, Collegetown’s Linden Street, not yet in existence but forthcoming, had to beg the city and line their road with linden trees to get their name change from Hazen Street approved in 1924.

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Looking a little closer at Ithaca itself, a little re-orienting is required in some neighborhoods. The county fairgrounds were north of the city on Railroad Avenue (now Lincoln Street), in what is today a mostly residential area. No King or Queen Streets yet in Fall Creek, then a sparsely populated if growing neighborhood. Steamboats had their dock near where 13 passes the Sciencenter today. Llenroc (then “Forest Park”) shows up here near the cemetery, the grandiose mansion in the midst of construction in 1866, nine years from completion. Other streets had different names as well;  among them, Park Place was Varick Street (for Richard Varick DeWitt, local landowner; also an infinitely cooler name than a Monopoly space), Hillview Place was Mechanic Street, Esty Street was New Street, Cleveland Avenue was Wheat Street, and Court Street was Mill Street (residents despised it so much it was changed to Finch Street, then Court Street in 1924). Most prominently, State Street went by Owego Street at the time (the name change would come next year, in 1867). The contemporary Ithacan asking for directions might get a little confused.

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Some noted landmarks still stand – the Clinton House (1829), and the old County Courthouse (1854) on the public square. Others have seen the wrecking ball, some not all too long ago – the Cornell Library, brand new in 1866, made it to 1960, the old city hall to 1966. Urban renewal took its toll on the city, though perhaps not as extreme as Albany or Syracuse.

The area that would become the Commons is already dense with buildings, though it steadily tapers in any direction and peters out after several blocks. Collegetown is hardly Collegetown, with only a few homes on Spring Street (Schuyler Place, 1924), Factory Street (Stewart Avenue, 1888), and Eddy Street. A tobacco barn, grist and cotton mills, and foundries provided local employment, as well as brewery just south of the current-day police station. Ithaca was a growing large town in upstate New York, with small industries and a developing core.

I’ve heard students derisively say that without Cornell (and presumably IC), Ithaca would be as small and unimportant as Watkins Glen. I think that’s an extreme judgement. Maybe Cortland-sized, or maybe it would have ended up like Elmira; but there was a village here before there was a university here, a village that is fascinating to examine on an old map.





Olympic Cornellians

24 02 2014

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If I was a little better at timing things, I might have managed to get this entry out before the closing ceremonies in Sochi. But, better to get this out now than to wait for Rio in 2016.

In keeping with current events and the Cornell mouthpieces providing updates on Cornellians participating in the winter games, I decided to compile a few pieces of information regarding Big Red staff, alumni or current students participating in any Olympic games since their modern inception in 1896.

Originally, I was going to use a combo of a pdf that Cornell Athletics put out during the Vancouver games, a London 2012 update, and a current piece regarding CU representation in Sochi. But, whether it’s something new or something I missed the first time through, Cornell put out an updated sheet with a little bit of HTML.

Starting with 3 Cornellians in the 1904 St. Louis Olympics, Cornell has had a combined 98 Cornellians participate in the Olympic games (81 summer, 17 winter— the first winter game representative was Richard “Dick” Parke 1916, at the 1928 games in St. Moritz). Another 9 were alternates, 2 more were injured and could not participate, and 1 lost out due to the 1980 boycott. One of the injured ones, Helen Mund White ’57, had another chance four years later (Melbourne 1956), but gave up her spot on the Chilean diving team to her sister. Almost all of these Olympians were Cornell undergrads, but at least two were J.D.s, and one just has “graduate studies” for his year of graduation.

Of the 98 Cornell Olympians, 80 represented the United States; the others have represented 9 other countries (Canada, Chile, Greece, Guyana, Hungary, Mexico, Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which is permitted to have its own team). The 1964 games in Tokyo had 9 Cornellians representing, making it the deepest field the Big Red has ever served up to the Olympics, while Sochi has the strongest winter Olympics showing with 5. Given that most Olympians are on the young side, it probably comes as no surprise that many of these 98 were students while participating in the Olympics; I imagine that balancing the course-load was a challenge, to say the least.

If we count all the medals won by Cornellians, then the Big Red has earned 7 bronze, 16 silver, and 20 gold medals in the summer Olympics, and 1 bronze, 3 silver and 8 gold in the winter Olympics (included the 4 gold and the bronze earned this year at Sochi). In numbers of medals overall (55), that would put us between North Korea (49) and Kazakhstan (59), while 28 golds puts Cornell between Kenya (25) and Greece (30). In theory, Cornell is better stacked than about three-quarters of the participating nations.

The next time someone pokes fun at Ivy League sports teams due to their lack of strength in traditional “American” sports, feel free to cite this post as ammunition.





News Tidbits 2/6/14: A Sorority Totally New To Cornell

7 02 2014

Image Property of Phi Mu sorority.

Courtesy of the Cornell Sun and Cornell Chronicle comes news of the latest addition to Cornell’s Greek Life – social sorority Phi Mu.  According to the news articles, sorority interest has increased in the previous few years, from 670 registrants in 2010 to 873 in the latest rush (Chronicle claims 871…don’t know which is correct). This moved the Cornell Pan-Hel system to add a 13th sorority. If one views Phi Sigma Sigma as a replacement for the departed Alpha Omicron Pi, then Phi Mu would mark the first time there have been 13 Pan-Hel sororities on campus since 2003, when Delta Phi Epsilon and Chi Omega closed, and were replaced by Alpha Xi Delta the following year. If you go a little further back, there were 14 as recently as 1996, before Alpha Gamma Delta closed (comparing the old photo in that link to my 2008 shot, their physical house went downhill fast).

Given that there are a number of sororities that used to have a presence at Cornell, it’s rather unusual to see a colonization rather than a re-colonization; Phi Mu has never previously been installed on Cornell’s campus. Lookins at their wikipedia page, it would seem that most of their 117 chapters are based out of the South and Mid-Atlantic; so being in the northeast is unfamiliar territory for this sorority.

A new sorority is all and well and good, but my primary interest lies in this sentence from the Sun article:

According to [Katherine-Rae Cianciotto, dean of students], Phi Mu is currently researching housing options and will likely have a house beginning in Fall 2015.”

There are options ladies. It will be interesting to see where the sorority ends up making its physical home, and hopefully build upon a house’s history.

 








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