The Keyword Bar XI

27 05 2011

It’s been really slow news-wise, I’m been pouring my efforts into my work, and while I’m scratching my head for ideas, I might as well fall back on the tried-and-true method of answering or writing about peoples queries that bring them to this blog.

1. “can i join tke if i pledge sae” (5-13-2011)

I wonder if this was a Cornell student or someone from another school. Anyways, at Cornell, the answer was yes, under…extraordinary circumstances. Which I’ve already ranted about here.

2. “hotel brunswick” ithaca ny (5-14-2011)

A fun fact of the day – Theodore Zinck didn’t call his pub Zinck’s, as most of us might believe. Rather, he called his pub the “Lager Beer Saloon and Restaurant”, which was located in the Hotel Brunswick, which he also owned. The hotel and bar were discontinued after Zinck committed suicide in 1903. It was the pubs that came along after the Hotel Brunswick closed that were named Zinck’s, in honor of his service (and to try and conjure up good memories for visiting deep-pocketed alums).

3. “ithaca college a and e center tower” (5-15-2011)

I’m assuming this is the Ithaca athletics center that was being searched? At 174 feet (tallest tower in the county), it makes quite an impression. The below photo is from Cass Park (tower is in the upper left):

4. “cornell “university library” ‘arthur gibb” 1890 drawing” (5-17-2010)

It’s a fantastic monograph, but I’m not aware of any copies of it being online. However, while searching for it, I found this wonderful writeup about Uris Library by Matthew Stukus ’09. It gives a couple details I was previously unaware of, such as Cornell was going to have to pay Henry William Sage back for the library construction if it won the Great Will Case, and that contrary to previous haphazard planning, it took fifteen months for the site of Uris Library to be chosen. The writeup is only several pages, so it’s a brief but enjoyable read.

5. “ithaca coldest ever day” (5-19-2010)

People seem to have an odd fascination with this one; I’ve never seen a query for the warmest day in Ithaca, but I’ve answered the coldest day question previously. For those too lazy to click the link, the lowest low is -25 F, set once in January 1957, and once again in February 1961. This past winter’s coldest day, for comparison, was -15 F, on January 25th.

6. “did the ramones ever play at a cornell university party?” (5-20-2011)

Define “party”. They played at Barton Hall in February 1981. The Ramones came back to East Hill to play for Slope Day 1984 (where they ended up playing in Barton Hall once again because of bad weather). But as for private parties or fraternity parties, I’m not aware of any occasion offhand.

7. “experimental fantastic gothic death” (5-21-2011)

Um…nope. Not even going to think about answering this. But extra points for being really creepy.

8. “neighbors have rotting deer heads along property line” (5-22-2011)

Your neighbors are a lot worse than mine. I’m really sorry.

9. “is it difficult to grt into hughes hall cornell capacity” (5-24-2011)

That’s a really good question. To be honest, I thought Hughes Hall as a dorm was being closed and converted into academic use, but apparently its 48 rooms are still open for the upcoming academic year. Typically, about 25% of first-year law students live in Hughes. Your best bet is to call the Housing office and ask.

Hughes Hall is the product a million-dollar donation in 1956 from Myron Taylor LL. B. 1894, who was chair of the trustees for U.S. Steel Corp. The building, which was completed in 1963, was named for law professor Charles Evans Hughes, who was Myron Taylor’s favorite professor while he attended the law school. Prof. Hughes would go on to become governor of New York (1907-1910), U.S. Secretary of State (1921-1925) and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1930-1941).





An Exercise in Mapping, Part II

15 05 2011

Under Construction: The once-vacant Plantations Building on Ithaca Commons is being renovated into 8 apartments, a small amount of office space, and a large restaurant on the first floor of the 5-story building. The project is funded partially by community grant money and will be complete in about a month.

Approved: The 6-story, 52-unit apartment building proposed by INHS (1), the 7-story, 45-unit Cayuga Place condos (2), and the 10-story, 140-room Hotel Ithaca (3) are attempting to find financing in what is still a tight market for construction loans. The INHS building is dependent on state grant money that was not granted last year, and they are hoping to obtain financing in the next round of grants. The Cayuga Place condos has been looking for more unit sales and securing bank financing for almost four years at this point, and it might be time to move that to a stale proposal.

Proposed: The 6-story Challenge Industries redevelopment proposal, which has some office space and 32 units of housing. The project is currently trying to win over the neighbors and councils for zoning variances and approval down the line.

Stale/Dead: McGraw House, a senior living facility, was looking into a 25-50 unit expansion, and held several meetings to discuss proposals on the table, but this has all been tabled until a future time.

Examining the Ithaca College Area:

Note that I don’t use Bing Maps because I like them more, but because they are more up-to-date. For example, IC’s virtually complete Athletics Center is clearly visible on this aerial image.

Under Construction are Ithaca’s College’s Circle Apartments expansion (in the site prep stage; four current buildings (132 units) will be demo’d and nine more (280 units) will be added to the complex) and a 22-unit addition of senior housing (patio homes) to Longview.

Approved are the College Crossings retail center and INHS’s Holly Creek townhomes (11 units in first phase, I think 22 total). Off the map to the south and southwest are a couple of housing developments, Southwoods and Cleveland Estates, which are being developed lot-by-lot.

The proposed facility is the long-term expansion plans for the South Hill Business Campus, which would add 197,000 sq ft in three new buildings 3-4 stories in height. The campus currently has about 288,000 sq ft, of which about 84% is leased.

The stale proposal is an apartment building off of Bella Vista Drive that has been trying to market its units for the better part of five years. I am doubtful it will ever launch construction at this point.





Taking Care of Cornell’s Students’ Bodies

10 05 2011

After I wrote about the medical college, I felt inspired to write up a brief piece regarding the history of student health at Cornell. Understandably, the value of this entry to the practical person looking up health information is nil, but then, I would hope that if someone has health issues, they would be looking through health websites like Gannett’s instead of blogs.

Anyways, most Cornell students know that if they feel sick, or think they might be pregnant, or some combo thereof, that a trip to Gannett Health Center is in order. Back in Cornell nascent days, if you were sick, well…you were pretty much screwed. A student at Cornell a few years after its founding, if they were to become ill, could hope to be taken care of by their friends, roommates or professors, if they were lucky and had strong connections. Otherwise, you were S.O.L. If it was any consolation, so were all residents of the city of Ithaca, which wouldn’t get it’s first hospital for a few more years (the first hospital opened on Aurora Street sometime during the 1870s, and the second hospital was built off of Quarry Street in Lower Collegetown in 1910; that complex still stands today as the Quarry Arms apartments, which Collegetown Terrace will be built around). In 1870, the faculty senate voted to set aside rooms on campus for sick students (Bishop 176), and the first medical examiner, a sort of campus physician, was appointed in June 1877 (he held two job titles, the other being an assistant professor of mathematics). Jennie McGraw of Cornell Chimes fame put a bequest in her will of $15,000 for the construction of a student hospital on the grounds of Cornell, and this was increased to $40,000 before her death in 1891. However, thanks to the Great Will Case, Cornell never saw any of her money used towards a health facility.

The first building dedicated solely to student health was the Cornell Infirmary, which still stands as the Schuyler House dorm to the far southwest of main campus. The Sage Complex¬† initially consisted of only the east building, which was essentially a converted mansion built in 1880 as Henry Sage’s retirement home after he moved from Brooklyn to Ithaca (Bishop 211).¬† Upon his death in 1897, he asked that the building and land be donated to Cornell, which his sons Dean and William did with an additional $100,000 donation for maintenance (Bishop 333). They might not have done that if Sage had outlived his nemesis and fellow generous benefactor Willard Fiske. Both sons were furious that Fiske was interred in Sage Chapel in 1904 and abruptly stopped all involvement and donations to the university. William Sage actually had donated a building to Yale some years later. But, I digress. The original Cornell Infirmary had room for twenty patients, and the large addition on the west side was completed in 1912. What you received was bed, board, and modest nursing care and lab services. While a student of yesteryear might receive advice on hygiene or bad habits, actual diagnosis by physicians was a role the university refused to take on until around 1940. It was felt that the university should not be responsible for the clinical care of its students, only lend a hand in their treatment. Medical advising by Cornell staff was generally discouraged.

By the 1950s, it was felt that the Infirmary was inadequate, poorly located and outdated, so a new building was constructed on land that used to hold two faculty residences. This building was named for media mogul Frank Gannett 1898, who generously funded its construction. The Gannett Health Clinic opened its doors in 1955 and received an expansion to its west side in 1979, bringing it to 39,000 sq ft. The masterplan suggests a 90,000-130,000 sq ft structure to replace the current building on the current site sometime during the next several years.

I’m marginally jealous that Cornell’s health center is on campus. The one at my grad school is located a half mile away across a four-lane highway. What a nice way some colleges provide for their students.





News Tidbits 5/6/2011: Some of Us Can’t Be At Slope Day

6 05 2011

Oh graduate finals. You take way the afternoon of one of the biggest social days of my year. Well, I’ve studied a fair amount, and since final #1 is at 3 PM, I figured I would take a brief break to tackle a few of the many news pieces to have been released lately, before they become really old news.

1. SAE’s pledge class joining TKE. Do I think this is wrong? On many levels, yes. Playing Devil’s Advocate here, I can see why they might’ve pursued this idea. It’s no great secret that TKE’s numbers have been declining recently, and the fresh blood of a sizable class adopted from a fraternity with a strong social reputation could definitely help in some respects. In a historical sense, there’s nothing particularly like it.¬† When Phi Sigma Kappa and Phi Sigma Epsilon merged in the mid-1980s, even though both had houses at Cornell, there’s no indication the bortherhoods merged; it seems Phi Sigma Epsilon simply closed. There are some cases of entire fraternities merging, such as Zodiac and ATO in the 1930s. In all my fact-checking, I found only one case; pledges of Theta Chi, which was booted off Cornell’s campus in 1999, asked if they could join Alpha Epsilon Pi, and the offer was accepted. AEPi partially operated out of the Theta Chi house until 2001 (first they operated both their house at 140 Thurston and the house at 40 Ridgewood, then just Ridgewood), when it became too expensive and they reverted back to just their Thurston property.

On a related note, four of the former SAE pledges (not affiliated with the TKE group) were indicted on charges related to the death of George Desdunes ’13.

If I were an alum of TKE (which I’m not, thankfully) I’d be livid. It sets a horrible example, that even though the members of your pledge class had an indirect role in someone’s death, that you’re high enough on the social ladder that another house will come to your “rescue”. For all practical purposes, the size of this group, and their former association, will likely cause Tau Kappa Epsilon to become a hybridized version of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Arguably, that might help the house’s perceived social standing, and it provides some measure of stability, but at great expense to the house’s integrity, and it speaks volumes on how much the SAE group actually cared about their own fraternal association. It just seems ethically wrong to me.

2. Then again, being ethically wrong seems to be a running theme of the semester. I have to say, having an IFC officer mock MGLC’s step show will sexual gestures towards a large audience that included Ithaca high and middle school students, and then voting to not remove him until the associate dean “strongly advises” it and he tenders his own resignation…like really? Is the system trying to get dismantled, because honestly I can’t tell at this point.

3. last on the pieces of news to tackle, the fatal fire at 107 Cook Street. We all talk about how some of the houses in Collegetown are unsafe, but never would anyone want a tragic event such as this to happen. Argue about zoning and landlords and proper maintenance all you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that someone has lost their life just as the semester was wrapping up. As an aside, I actually knew two guys from my major who lived in this exact apartment last year, and by their accounts it wasn’t in terrible shape. But right now, what matters is that someone is gone all too soon. As a final aside, the last fatal apartment fire was on Heights Court near North Campus back in May 2006. That house was renovated, and at last check, was up for sale.

P.S. I have a backlog of entries to write; once my schedule clears up, activity on this blog should pick up.