Scope and arrangement
The Christiane C. Collins Collection of West Harlem Coalition for Morningside Park and Urban Problems of the Contiguous Communities: West Harlem, Manhattan Valley, Morningside Heights and Manhattanville documents the origins, demonstrations and aftermath of the Columbia University student protest in the spring of 1968 and events through 1970. The collection focuses on the convergence of student activism and black community concerns as they relate to urban planning, gentrification and institutional racism, and the neglect of scarce natural resources in black neighborhoods. In particular, the material documents the relationship between student and local activists and their unity over the issues of Columbia's proposed construction of a new gymnasium in Morningside Park, just north of the University's campus, and in Harlem as well as other issues relating to Columbia's building expansion in Morningside Heights. The collection dates from 1941 through 1996 with the bulk dating from 1968-1970 when the student protest was at its peak.
Represented in the collection are the voices, opinions, and perspectives of all the major parties -- the community, university/faculty and media. Included are articles from the Columbia Daily Spectator, The New York Times, local Manhattan neighborhood newspapers, and other printed matter including magazine and journal articles, reports, flyers, mimeograph leaflets and proclamations. This material represents the community. The records of meetings of the West Harlem Coalition for Morningside Park and the Architects' Renewal Committee in Harlem and of other community groups dedicated to preserving Morningside Park and Morningside Heights are also in the collection. Additionally, there is documentation on Columbia's handling of the 1968 student protest, policy decisions by the Faculty Executive Committee and selected minutes of the University Faculty Senate on black and community related affairs. Other material figuring in the collection include deliberations, documentation of the role played by city officials from community and civic leaders, and City and University officials. Due to the wide variety of organizations, institutions, community groups and individuals represented in this collection, a great diversity of opinions is expressed. Numerous student groups voiced their political stance, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) being the most prominent. The student protest against the conflict in Vietnam as it related to Columbia University and nationwide is documented by news clippings and flyers.
The following items were removed from:
Name of Collection/Papers Christiane C. Collins Collection of the West Harlem Coalition for Morningside Park and Urban Problems of the Contiguous Communities: West Harlem, Manhattan Valley, Morningside Heights and Manhattanville
Accession Number MG 299, SCM 88-12
Donor: Christiane C. Collins
Date received: 1988
Date transferred: Feb. 21, 1997
The item(s) listed below have been sent to the division indicated, either to be retained or disposed of there. Any items that should receive special disposition are clearly marked.
Schomburg Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division:
Ten audiotapes of two faculty meetings dated May 5-6, 1968 and May 17, 1968: 2 reel to reel tapes and 2 copies (4 cassettes) for each meeting. One cassette of a talk given by Christiane Collins about Morningside Park held at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, School of Architecture, 1976 or 1977.
Schomburg Photographs and Print Division:
Two photographs of the arrest of demonstrators protesting construction of the gym in Morningside Park, 1968; and one photograph showing members of the West Harlem Coalition for Morningside Park, 1978.
Processed by: Janice Quinter
Date: Feb. 20, 1997
The Christiane C. Collins collection of the West Harlem Coalition for Morningside Park and Urban Problems of the Contiguous Communities: West Harlem, Manhattan Valley, Morningside Heights and Manhattanville is arranged in ten series:
The COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY BUILDING EXPANSION series, 1956-1996 (.5 lin. ft.) provides background information on the issues which united black and white residents of Morningside Heights with many students and faculty members in opposition to Columbia University's administration. The series encompasses University newsletters and reports regarding plans for expansion including the 1966 commencement of a $200 million capital and program campaign, correspondence, and material pertaining to the proposed construction of the gym in Morningside Park; Columbia's alleged harrassment of tenants; housing issues for students and community residents; and the history of building construction on the Columbia campus. Of note is a 1967 report prepared by the Faculty Civil Rights Group entitled “The Community and the Expansion of Columbia University.” Additional topics discussed in this series include eviction of tenants from Columbia-owned buildings and single room occupancy hotels (SRO's); the 1966 Ford Foundation $200 milion grant which included $10 million in funding for the Center on Urban and Minority Affairs (the Urban Center), the East Campus “superblock;” and the Pharmacy Site. Flyers prepared by SDS and various tenant groups that sponsored some of the meetings and calls for action are filed in this series. Other material focuses on housing policies.
The series EXPANSIONIST PLANS OF OTHER INSTITUTIONS IN MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, 1962-1987 (.1 lin. ft.) contains files about St. Luke's Hospital and the construction of P.S. 36 in Morningside Park, among other projects.
Both background and in-depth information relating to Columbia University can be found in the series MANHATTAN'S UPPER WEST SIDE AND HARLEM PARKS, 1962-1987 (.4 lin. ft.). Most of the material focuses on Morningside Park, center of the gymnasium controversy, and includes a 1972 report entitled “A Master Plan Study of St. Nicholas, Colonial and Morningside Parks” prepared for the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Administration by City College's School of Architecture and Environmental Studies. There is also a history of Morningside Park dating to colonial times, including information on its landscapers, Olmsted and Vaux. The relationship with Columbia University, the involvement of community groups and their attempts to provide access for recreation to all, and the voices of political and civic leaders are expressed in this series. There are architectural drawings of proposed renovations of Morningside Park prepared by Bond Ryder Wilson and the Columbia 1972 master plan for Morningside Park, in addition to aerial photographs of Morningside Heights and Park. The long-standing problem of crime in the park is also represented. Christiane Collins' articles about Morningside Heights and Park, Riverside Park (including its renovation), and housing issues and her extensive manuscript entitled “Morningside Park and its Contiguous Communities: A Chronicle of Urban Conflicts” (1971) about the relationship between Morningside Park and the surrounding neighborhood complete this series.
The series MANHATTAN'S UPPER WEST SIDE, HARLEM AND BRONX NEIGHBORHOODS, 1963-1982 (.4 lin. ft.) includes a lengthy report detailing plans for the development of Harlem prepared by various city commissions and local organizations, including the City Planning Commission, Columbia University and the Negro Labor Committee (1968). News clippings, flyers and other printed matter discuss redevelopment projects and plans in Harlem including the construction of the Harlem State Office Building, and rehabilitation of residential buildings and deteriorated areas. Other material pertains to East Harlem, Puerto Ricans in Manhattan including the Young Lords and their bimonthly newspaper, Palante, and a poverty striken community in the East Bronx. Official reports in this series include Mayor Robert Wagner's legislative program on housing, and a report prepared by Columbia entitled “Columbia University in the City of New York - An Old Partnership” dealing with the University's relationship with city problems such as medical services, legal affairs, economic development, business and architectural projects.
The MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS series, 1959-1994 (.8 lin. ft.) documents a wide variety of activist organizations that worked for the development of Morningside Heights and Morningside Park. The Architects' Renewal Committee in Harlem (ARCH) records encompass planning studies, memoranda to members, reports, correspondence, articles, flyers and news clippings regarding its efforts to plan for the renovation of Morningside Park in conjunction with Lawrence Halprin & Associates, and a report about legal action taken against the Morningside Hotel, an SRO.
The records of the Take-Park Workshop which was co-sponsored by the West Harlem Coalition for Morningside Park and ARCH include readings, a workbook and a report enumerating participants' recommendations to renovate the park. Additional records of the West Harlem Coalition include minutes of meetings held with the community planning boards, correspondence with member Bob McKay and with local politicians regarding a feasibility and design study. Other material represented in this series include the Morningside Heights General Neighborhood Renewal Plan, under the auspices of the City of New York Housing and Redevelopment Board (consisting of reports, proposals for use of the neighborhood, and news clippings), and Morningsiders United (memoranda and printed matter concerning the maintenance of residential buildings and opposition to Columbia's encroachment and control of the neighborhood). There is also a planning and design workbook for community participation sponsored by Princeton University.
The series COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY GYMNASIUM, 1941-1986 (.6 lin. ft.) provides additional background information on the causes which led to the spring 1968 Columbia University student strike. The history of the “new” gym which was planned in the 1940's and subsequent plans in the 1950's are critiqued in the contemporary student newspaper. The correspondence of George Collins and then-Manhattan Borough President Constance Baker Motley, who were involved in planning for the gym in the 1960's, is located in this series. Most of the other material for the 1960's and 1970's which is comprised of news clippings, details the community's objections to construction of the facility. Following Columbia's abandonment of its construction plans, various organizations and individuals conceived ideas for rehabilitation of the park, many of which are included here. There are also documents describing Columbia's agreement to pay reparations to renovate the defaced park gym site in the 1970's. Of special interest are I.M. Pei's plans for construction of a gym beneath South Field included with his master plan for the entire University, “Planning for Columbia University: An Interim Report,” in which the famed architect proposed the use of campus land and buildings to their fullest potential. Finally, the plans and dedication of the new gym named the Marcellus Hartley Dodge Center for Physical Fitness, dedicated in 1974, complete this series.
The most extensive series in the collection is COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY STUDENT PROTEST, 1961-1987 (4.2 lin. ft.) culminating principally with the spring 1968 student strike, with documents also focusing on the spring 1969 and 1970 strikes.
The COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY FACULTY SENATE series, 1967-1980 (.6 lin. ft.) consists of proposals for the creation of a University Senate and a student assembly, minutes of meetings, correspondence, a directory of Columbia officers and staff, bulletins and news clippings. These documents pertain to some of the issues the Senate dealt with including Columbia as a landlord and ways to improve the University's relationship with the community, establishment of a Puerto Rican and Latin American Institute, and the development of the East Campus. The committee and subcommittees in this series include Community Relations, Physical Development (Professor Collins held membership in both) and Student Life.
The ADMINISTRATION series, 1961-1980 (.2 lin. ft.) comprises material from three University presidents (Kirk, Cordier and McGill) and one vice-president (Lawrence H. Chamberlain) and consists of the 1970-1971 presidential annual report, correspondence, financial reports, and commencement addresses. There are also public affairs notices regarding the investiture, retirement and assessment of tenure of the presidents, as well as news clippings. For the vice-president, there is material about the physical expansion of the University.