1965—Opening of the CBS Building, which uses Prof. Mario Salvadori’s structural system of thin concrete shells. Later, in 1975, responding to a call for volunteers in the New York City public schools, Prof. Salvadori teaches a junior high school class in Harlem.
As reported in the March 15, 1965 Spectator, Columbia engineers measure the gravitational acceleration on each floor of the Empire State Building, throughout the night and on Sundays to avoid vibrations by elevators during the traditional work hours, to contribute to fundamental understanding of the Earth’s gravitational field.
March 22-26, 1965—The annual international IEEE show occurs in the New York Coliseum, with 60,000 visitors and 900 exhibitors. In 1962, the IRE (Institute for Radio Engineers) had combined with the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE) to become the IEEE, the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Their annual convention is held at the New York Coliseum, which was at Columbus Circle from 1956 to 2000.
Ads in the Spectator, April 8, 1965, reflecting student life.
From the 1965 Columbia Engineer yearbook.
At about 5:30 PM on November 9, 1965, “The Northeast blackout of 1965” leaves 30 million people over 80,000 square miles in parts of New York, Northeast U.S. and Ontario without electricity for up to 13 hours. New York City is hit hard by this blackout (photo by Bob Gomel for Life). More than 800,000 riders are trapped in the subways and many others in elevators.
Of note:The 1965 blackout is relatively peaceful, unlike the later July 13-14, 1977 blackout which was marked by widespread looting. The August 14, 2003 blackout has even greater impact, affecting 50 million people. But it was the 1965 blackout that first raised awareness of the vulnerability of the City to large-scale power failure.
Student electronics laboratory, photo from the 1966 Columbia Engineer yearbook.
Summer, 1966—Camp Columbia ends (per the March 15, 1966 Spectator). Faculty abolish this month-long requirement for the summer before the junior year as a requirement for the B.S. Degree. Shown, the tower at Camp Columbia, photo from the 1958 Columbia Engineer yearbook.
February 1968—Faculty vote to reinstate Camp Columbia requirement for all SEAS students (per the Feb. 22, 1968, Spectator). As reported by Spectator: As another faculty member stated: "Without Camp, the Columbia Engineering school is just like any other technical school in the nation. It is the experience at Camp that makes a Columbia education unique.” But Camp Columbia is never reinstated.
One activity in nuclear science and engineering at Columbia is the use of the graphite-moderated subcritical assembly in the Nuclear Techniques Laboratory, which is utilized by undergraduate and graduate students. Dean Dunning and Prof. Edward Leonard are shown with this assembly, from the 1966 Columbia Engineer yearbook.
Sept. 1966—Engineering Terrace is completed, as reported in the Oct. 5, 1966 Spectator. Shown during construction, below, from the April 8, 1965 Spectator.
Modernized libraries are important in SEAS education and research; photo from the 1966 Columbia Engineer yearbook.
1966, Le Marteleur ("The Hammerman"), a bronze cast of Belgian artist Constantin Meunier's 1886 sculpture that was a gift of the School of Mines Class of 1889, is shown being moved from outside Lewisohn Hall (which housed the School of Mines) to the Mudd Building (lower left photos from the Dec. 8, 1966 Spectator). The statue now sits near the entrance of Mudd (as shown on the right).
Computer data center in operation; photo from the 1966 Columbia Engineer yearbook.
From 1967-70, Jim McMillian leads the best ever (so far) Columbia basketball team to a 63-14 record. Dave Newmark co-leads the 1968 team to a 21-4 record and its last (so far) berth in the NCAA tournament. Both later play in the NBA. Shown, from the 1967 (below) and 1969 (left) Columbia Engineer yearbook.
1967—Construction of the TRIGA Mark II fission reactor in the basement of Engineering Terrace, begun in 1964, is completed. It was to be used for education and research in the Division of Nuclear Science & Engineering, a forerunner of APAM. Though licensing and operation became possible in 1974 with the successful resolution of legal challenges, the reactor is never fueled, operated, or radioactive.
Shown, the concrete shell of the nuclear reactor remains; the reactor control room, (lower) photo from the 1975 Columbia Engineer yearbook.
Shown, Prof. James Church and chemical engineering students, from the 1967 Columbia Engineer yearbook.
Signs of the times: buttons from 1968-1972. The button “Strike” with black ink on the lower half was issued for the April 26, 1968 strike held around the U.S. against the Vietnam War.
Strike at Columbia, starting April, 1968. Photos show scenes on Low Library steps and confrontations among Columbia students.
The current (and fourth) Madison Square Garden (MSG) (right, under construction), atop Penn Station, opens in 1968. The first (1879-1890) (upper left) and second (1890-1925) (upper right) MSGs were at 26th St. and Madison Ave., and the third MSG (1925-1968) was on Eighth Ave. between 49th and 50th St. (lower left), shown in 1944.
Prof. Richard Skalak’s 1969 Science paper on “Deformation of Red Blood Cells (RBCs) in Capillaries” was a major breakthrough. Using synchronized flashes, he showed that the parachute- or umbrella-like RBCs are the basic biconcave disk shape of the RBC with the upstream end flattened by the pressure gradient, and not, as earlier thought, due to internal displacements of the cell contents. Starting in 1968, he and Prof. Shu Chien become pioneers in biomedical engineering, producing groundbreaking work in the mechanics of blood flow, bone growth, white blood cell responses to infections, and biological responses to implants.
1969—An unprecedented sports championship year in New York City, with three teams winning a championship, and each for the first time: New York Mets (baseball) win the 1969 World Series; New York Jets (football) win Superbowl III (in Jan. 1969, for the 1968 season); New York Knicks (basketball) win the NBA championship for the 1969-1970 season.
April 22, 1970—The first Earth Day is celebrated at Columbia, with SEAS Profs. Gross, Harris, and Linford participating. The Spectator’s coverage includes a photo of smoke from a Con Ed power plant.
1970—The inaugural New York City Marathon. Grete Waitz is shown crossing the finish line in 1978, completing her first of nine New York City Marathon triumphs (left). The photo on the right is from the early 1980s.
The Feb. 15, 1972 Spectator reports “The biology department has been given 30,000 square feet of space in the (SEAS) Engineering Terrace and Seeley W. Mudd Hall to help alleviate the department's critical space shortage, … . The space … is located on the second and third floors of the Engineering Terrace, and on the sixth and seventh floors of the Mudd building.”
The Feb. 24, 1972 Spectator reports “…Wesley J. Hennessy, dean of the engineering school, said yesterday that he feared the university would regard the solution as a permanent one. … Although the administration said in its announcement that the space was being loaned on a temporary basis, Dean Hennessy declared that … he is ‘concerned about the temptation’ to the administration to consider the space as permanently assigned to the biology department. President McGill said … that Dean Hennessy had ‘vigorously opposed’ the decision.”
Hand-held calculators begin replacing slide rules. The HP 35 calculator, the world's first pocket scientific calculator, costs $395 in 1972.
The Carleton Laboratory; photo from the 1972 Columbia Engineer yearbook.
The proposed Engineering Tower, the third building in the Engineering Center, as depicted in the Dec. 9, 1964 Spectator, (as either a research and office building or, as more recently envisioned, a dormitory) will not be built on Engineering Terrace. The May 2, 1973 Spectator reports “Last fall, Deputy Vice President for Academic Affairs James S. Young announced that the proposed biology tower would be built on top of the Engineering Terrace, taking up the space Dean Hennessy had suggested for the dormitory.”
The hip-hop and rap music movement begins in the Bronx. According to the New York Times, it starts in the basement community room in 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, where DJ Kool Herc presides over parties, starting with his sister’s back-to-school party on August 11, 1973. He extended an instrumental beat to let people dance longer (breakdancing) and began MC’ing (rapping) during the extended breakdancing.
On December 16, 1973, a cement truck going to make a repair on one part of the West Side Highway causes a 60-foot section of northbound roadway near Gansevoort St. to collapse. The road is then closed permanently. In 1969, it had been closed briefly when part of it collapsed, but it was quickly repaired. New York City infrastructure had been neglected for decades. This and the impending financial crisis in the City represented low points, and, in ways, pointed to the rebirth of the City in the 1990s.
The Feb. 22, 1974 ʼ reports that “Percy Kierstede Hudson, an alumnus of the Columbia School of Mines, has left the university a trust fund (that) will eventually be used to pay the … remaining debt on the Seeley W. Mudd Building,… (upper left).” Felix E. Wormser, Engineering '16, …, a former Trustee who headed the Engineering Center's fundraising drive at its beginning in the late 1940’s, revealed, “‘We were going to build another building (besides Seeley W. Mudd) atop the Engineering Terrace and call it the Hudson Building.’ Plans for such a building have now been dropped.” Later, the April 12, 1978 Spectator reports that the gift, now $12 M, was received by Columbia (lower right).