Sixty-seven years ago today, on March 9, 1953, a photographer captured the first day out on the water for the 1953 crew team as they rowed away from Baker Field. But, perhaps more importantly, he fortunately captured, on the left side of the frame, part of the emerging “C” of C Rock.
In 1952, two Columbia crew team members, coxswain Robert Prendergast CC 1953) and oarsman Donald Fagin (CC 1953), received permission from the New York Central Railroad to paint the letter “C” on the 100-foot rock cliff. (You can see a train on the right side of the photo.) Prendergast and Fagin acquired traffic paint from the University’s Buildings and Grounds Department and Pop Johnson, who ran the boathouse, helped them rig a boatswain chair to a rope so a painter could be moved up and down the side of the cliff. They started the sign in the fall of 1952 but the 60′ x 60′ letter was not completed until 1955. This, and many other images, can be found in the recently processed Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education Department negatives. This valuable collection contains negatives, on glass and on film, of Columbia sports teams, student athletes, coaches, managers and trainers from the 1930s to the 1960s. And because this is Columbia’s Year of Water, here are other great images of Columbia’s athletes rowing on the Harlem River.