Adolph Lewisohn


Another of President Finley's concepts was Lewisohn Stadium, long a central part of City College life. As has been the case throughout CCNY's history, finances were a perennial problem. President Finley was acutely aware of the need for adequate facilities for athletic teams. While New York City would not provide money, it did donate the two blocks south of the College, which was then park land.

Dr. Finley learned that businessman-philanthropist Adolph Lewisohn had expressed willingness to finance the project. The two men met for lunch in April, 1912. Mr. Lewisohn agreed to donate up to $75,000 in support of the Stadium. President Finley commissioned a young architect, Arnold W. Brunner, to work on the project, which was modeled on the President's memories of a small rock-hewn theatre in the Trastevere section of Rome.

When the final plans were complete and the contractors called in, it was discovered that the cost might run as high as $405,000. When a very worried President Finley hurried to see Mr. Lewisohn with the estimate, the philanthropist vowed that he would "build it somehow."

And he did. The 6,000-seat stadium (with additional thousands of seats available on the infield during concerts) was dedicated on May 29, 1915 — two years after Dr. Finley had left the College and Dr. Sidney Edward Mezes of the University of Texas had become CCNY's fourth president. The Stadium's dedication was marked by a performance of "The Trojan Women," produced by Granville Barker and Lillian McCarthy.

For over 50 years, Lewisohn Stadium was a staple of New York City cultural life, allowing hundreds of thousands of concert goers to hear the world's leading symphonies, conductors and soloists. Among those whose careers the Stadium concerts helped launch were Marian Anderson, Eugene Ormandy, George Gershwin and Ethel Merman.