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Colin Powell. Courtesy of the CCNY Archives.

Colin Powell was living in the South Bronx when he entered City College in 1954. His trip involved buses. During his college years, the family bought a house in Hollis. In his American Journey, the former National Security Advisor and Chief of Staff, wrote:

I now began commuting from Queens to CUNY via the subway, which led to my first serious romance, with a CUNY student. We began riding the A train from the campus downtown, where we would transfer, I out to Queens and the girl out to Brooklyn...."

Vivian Gornick. Courtesy of the CCNY Archives.

Vivian Gornick (Class of 1957) lived in the Bronx while attending City College. She incorporated these memories into a commencement address delivered at Bennington College in 1979.

Growing up in a working-class immigrant community in New York City and then going to City College while still living at home... was in fact like committing a subversive act. On the surface life appeared to be what it had always been: you still used the subways, still walked the familiar city streets between classes, still ate in grubby luncheonettes, returned to the old neighborhood each night, talked continuously to your high school friends on the block who had not gone on to college....

Beneath the surface, though, you had begun to live in a secret world inside your head where you read and thought and talked in a way that separated you from your parents, and the life of the house, and that of the streets on which you had grown and apparently still lived. It was a world that came to express life when you got off the train at 145th Street in the morning, and went back into stifled seclusion when you got back on the train each night. ("Quoted City at the Center...", edited by Professors Betty Rizzo and Barry Wallenstein. N.Y.: City College, Division of Humanities, 1983.)

The horse cars, Els, subways, ferries, buses and trolleys have brought students to the city colleges for the past 150 years are more than just methods of transportation. While not as swift as the magic carpets of the Arabian Nights, they too transport their passengers to the place where dreams are realized. Each student who daily descends, climbs, stands, sits, jostles, transfers, and climbs again shares in these dreams of a bright future.


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