Educating Harlem
A Century of Schooling and Resistance in a Black Community

Chapter 8. Intermediate School 201: Race, Space, and Modern Architecture in Harlem

by Marta Gutman

Chapter 8 Map

Map design by Rachael Dottle and customized for chapter by Rachel Klepper. Map research by Rachel Klepper. Map layers from: Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Department of Urban Planning, City of New York; Atlas of the city of New York, borough of Manhattan. From actual surveys and official plans / by George W. and Walter S. Bromley New York Public Library Map Warper; Manhattan Land book of the City of New York. Desk and Library ed. [1956]; New York Public Library Map Warper; and State of New Jersey GIS. Point locations from: School Directories, New York City Board of Education, New York Amsterdam News via ProQuest Historical Newspapers, and multiple archival sources cited in relevant chapters.

Faced with intransigent bureaucracy, struggling schools, deteriorating buildings, and entrenched racial segregation, parents in Harlem demanded direct control over the core functions of public education in the 1950s and 1960s. One new building became a flashpoint in the battle for community control—Intermediate School (IS) 201, the infamous windowless school that abuts the Park Avenue railroad viaduct two blocks north of East 125th Street, straddling Central Harlem and East Harlem. White architects and politicians, including the mayor, John Lindsay, rallied to defend “Harlem’s besieged masterpiece,” but parents in Harlem disagreed.1 The location and the architecture, which many of them opposed, stood as a constant reminder of their unmet demands, from exclusion in policy making to broken promises of integration.

Well after the Supreme Court held racial segregation unconstitutional in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision (1954), New York City lagged in desegregating schools. Fed up with the glacial pace, pent-up anger about school facilities and ingrained racial segregation exploded in the late 1950s. Mae Mallory, Viola Waddy, and seven other women formed the Harlem Nine and organized a 162-day boycott of three junior high schools in 1958. This grassroots activism, coupled with court action, forced the Board of Education (BOE) to create an open enrollment policy—four long years after Brown.2

More protests followed. Civil rights activists, led by Reverend Milton Galamison, organized a citywide boycott in 1964. A photograph of an African American boy staring through a dirty, broken window illustrated the flyer that urged participation in “Freedom Day” (figure 8.1). The caption reads, “I Don’t Have A Good Integrated School.” More than 460,000 pupils—half of the students enrolled in the city’s public schools—stayed home on February 3, making for the largest civil rights protest in U.S. history.3 The generous explanation is that demands from white parents for segregated neighborhood schools and from Black parents for integrated schools were irreconcilable in the face of extraordinary demographic change: 1.5 million white residents left the city between 1950 and 1965, and the number of school-age children increased with Black and Puerto Rican boys and girls making up 75 percent of students by 1960.4 Less generously, the BOE was, whether for reasons of racist ideology or inertia, comfortable operating a segregated school system.

School Boycott! Flier

Figure 8.1 City Wide Committee for Integrated Schools, “School Boycott! Flier,” 1964. Credit: Queens College Civil Rights Archives, accessed August 5, 2016.

Two years later, angry parents upped the ante in Harlem. They demanded that their community exercise direct control over IS 201, a stellar example of the BOE’s intransigence. With the school scheduled to open on April 1, 1966, the Board of Education announced that mixing Blacks and Puerto Ricans in equal number would achieve racial integration. Black and Puerto Rican integration advocates wanted their children to share in the resources and political power that they knew accompanied white student enrollment.5

Pressured to do better by parents and community representatives at IS 201, the BOE tried to make its plan tolerable. It delayed the school opening and touted the building’s advantages in a leaflet that it distributed to thousands of families in Queens and the Bronx who would have the option of enrolling. The response was lukewarm at best. Exactly nine white children from overcrowded junior high schools in Queens registered, and anger escalated in Harlem as it became clear that voluntary transfer had replaced compulsory zoning as the BOE’s mechanism for desegregation. When the chair of the Board of Education, Lloyd Garrison, told the community that white children would come to the school once it had “proven” itself, the community answered in-kind: their children would stay out of school “until the school had proven itself” to them.6

To challenge segregation at IS 201 and its predicted consequences, parents turned to the time-honored tools of grassroots organizing and public protest.7 The Harlem Parents Committee, chaired by Isaiah Robinson, and other community groups called for a boycott, determined that the school would not open until their demands were met. When the picket line formed on the opening day, September 12, 1966, fewer than 600 students (of the 1,800 who could have been enrolled) crossed it to attend classes; 80 percent were African American, 20 percent were Puerto Rican, and none were white. “A New Air-Conditioned School Means Nothing Unless the Children Attending It Are Learning,” one leaflet read.8 “I don’t want segregation, but if I have it I want it on my own terms,” David Spencer, a parent and community leader, told a reporter. “I feel I know what’s best for me.”9 Mae Mallory, Stokely Carmichael, and other members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Congress of Racial Equality, the Black Panther Party, and other community groups joined Spencer, Alice Kornegay, Helen Testamark, Suki Ports, and other parents on the picket line.10

The boycott, which lasted almost three weeks, succeeded. Parents forced the white principal, Stanley Lisser, to resign, and pressured the Board of Education to hire a Black administrator and integrate African and African American history and culture into the curriculum. Their victory paved the way for an experiment in local self-governance in education that the Ford Foundation funded in 1967; defined formally as a “demonstration district,” at IS 201 and two other schools, this experiment was known informally as community control. And although New York’s ultimate decentralization of school governance in 1970 was far from what community-control advocates had sought in the 1950s and 1960s, the IS 201 activism helped propel that change as well.11

This chapter directs attention to architecture—to the polarization that design caused, and the opportunities that it also afforded. IS 201, designed by Nathaniel Curtis and Arthur Q. Davis, white architects based in New Orleans, is an example of an equalization school. Southern school districts in the pre–Brown years sought to fend off desegregation by bringing segregated educational facilities for Black children closer to parity with those for white children. In the 1950s an equalization school in the South was materially better than one from the Jim Crow period, but it was not exactly the same in every aspect of its design as one built for white children. These modern schools benefited African Americans in that they were Black-run institutions and they employed African American teachers. However, the new schools continued to constitute Black children as social subjects with inherently unequal citizenship rights.12

IS 201 served the purposes of equalization in New York City even though the BOE did not adopt a formal policy of equalization or admit that it built equalization schools deliberately. However, this school, a modern school, designed and built to higher standard than any other one in Harlem, reinforced existing patterns of racial segregation, much to the dismay of parents and civil rights activists. And the process of planning and building IS 201 exposed the political disempowerment that reinforced school segregation in New York City. In keeping with its top-down, stratified management, the Board of Education reluctantly incorporated new methods of citizen participation into its planning process but did not value this input, even though public hearings and other mechanisms for expanding local democracy had been in use in the city since the early 1950s.13

Harlem parents wanted to harness opportunities in the built environment to make better lives for themselves and their children, and they used urban space to make their demands known to the public. Whether they articulated a vision for the future based in integration or Black autonomy, whether they embraced modern architecture or disdained it, urban places figured in their aspirations for a just society. The exceptional design of IS 201, the heated disputes about the boycott in 1966, the teachers’ strikes in 1967 and 1968, and decentralization of the Board of Education have obscured the interplay between space and society that took place at the school.

Henri Lefebvre, who theorized the dynamic relationship between space and society in architecture, helps frame the discussion. IS 201 is an excellent example of Lefebvre’s argument that the physical, social, and discursive constructions of space work simultaneously in buildings, and that each aspect is open to and a cause of contestation. Famously, Lefebvre insisted that space is at once a physical, social, and discursive construction, and that space is made through the way it is built, lived, and imagined. He also asserted that citizens win their rights to the city, which he defined as the right to urban life, through temporal and spatial struggles as well through public debate and electoral politics. He maintained that appropriating urban space has an emancipatory potential in liberal capitalist democracies, but he also cautioned that appropriated spaces are likely to replicate at least some of the power relations of the dominant society.14

Set back from Madison Avenue, supported by tapered concrete piers, and without a single window in a classroom, IS 201 was the first fully air-conditioned public school in the city. It took Curtis and Davis almost two years to design the building, prepare construction documents, and bid the job; this time frame, typical for a public project, stood out as expeditious in New York City in the early 1960s.15 Contractors broke ground in 1964, and the $5 million price tag made IS 201 the most expensive school yet built in the city.16 Babette Edwards, a community leader who served as chair of the East Harlem Union for Equal Achievement in Schools in the mid-1960s, expressed that it horrified parents to see first the concrete frame and then the brick enclosure rise up next to the railroad viaduct. Forty years later, her voice conveyed anger at the memory.17

The architectural form of IS 201, closed to the community and the world, embodied Cold War ideologies and deficit-minded views of African American and Latinx communities circulating in domestic social policy in the same years. The school doubled as an air-raid shelter (as did IS 55 in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn, designed by the same architects). According to the architecture historian David Monteyne, the defensive posture of both schools is racist, expressing containment, control, and fear of the other that were part and parcel of Cold War politics.18 Harlem education activists often called on this example, Vietnam War imagery, to decry the violence done to Black and Latinx young men called to fight in a war not of their own choosing.

A perspective drawing of IS 201 helps to explain Monteyne’s point. Helmut Jacoby, an architect and highly regarded renderer, delineated the view in 1963, showing the building from the southeast corner of Madison Avenue and East 127th Street. He deliberately included the Harlem context in his rendering, insisting that it was his “specific task to show a not yet existing building in its real surroundings.”19 And yet the view is idealized. The three-story building, shown as an impermeable abstract block, glistens in the sunshine and is surrounded by elegant row houses (and a tenement or two), graceful street trees, clean streets and sidewalks, and relaxed children. Idealized or not, this broader view did not persist in later reproductions of the rendering.20 The frequently published version (figure 8.2), cropped to emphasize the defensive posture of the building, shows only a few neighborhood features—some trees, the street and sidewalk, and a train spewing smoke as it chugs along the viaduct. The inclusion is deliberate: the noise and air pollution caused by the train was one reason for making the school windowless.21 The drawing also suggested that this school could obviate the deleterious influences of the East Harlem environment on children and remedy the systemic, acute failure of public education in the ghetto.

View of IS 201, Curtis and Davis, 1963

Figure 8.2 View of IS 201, Curtis and Davis, 1963. Credit: Office of Civil Defense, Department of Defense, “New Buildings with Fallout Protection” (Washington, D.C., 1963), 20–23. A copy of the drawing is in the National Archives.

African American boys left high school at an alarming rate—75 percent across New York City in the mid-1960s.22 Crime, vandalism, delinquency, and drug addiction were also of great concern as were the battles over turf that erupted between young men in Harlem and other areas of Manhattan.23 In this context, Jacoby made sure to depict a policeman in the architectural rendering; he is standing on the sidewalk near the main entrance to the school with one hand extended, and the other one resting near his gun. In deference to the promise of a racially integrated school, white and Black children are shown even though it was unusual for them to play or live together in the same place in this moment in East Harlem. Black boys and girls stand inside the fenced playground, while white boys and girls pass by, walking to school. White children, privileged in public space, glance at Black children, contained by a tall metal fence.24

Modern architecture beckoned to African Americans and Puerto Ricans who were eager to shed the strictures of the past, but this school was not what they had hoped for.25 Even though the building was modern, up-to-date, and full of amenities that were not found in public schools in Harlem, the design valorized abstraction, monumentality, and technical virtuosity at all cost. At best, Curtis and Davis designed a school that did not square with the community’s vision for its children’s future; at worst the building ingrained racial inequalities (and the power of an authoritarian school board) in the present.

To Curtis and Davis and their liberal allies in the architecture community, the windowless school exemplified best practices. Angry parents called it a “prison,” “a tomb on stilts,” a “warehouse,” or a “fortress.”26 They didn’t want us to look in,” Babette Edwards recalled. Her scathing comment echoed a cartoon published in the New York Amsterdam News and reprinted in the New York Times.27 To Preston R. Wilcox, the sociologist and community organizer who advised the negotiating team during the 1966 boycott (and the governing board afterward), this school was an equalization school, “a palliative for anger” in a community that had sought desegregation for decades. It symbolized “the worst in community planning and public education.” He wrote, “The die has been cast in architectural form. The architecture has soothed the guilt of the Board; it has failed to handle the legitimate anger of the ghetto.”28

Segregated and Windowless by Design

Who selected the site? Who decided to make the school windowless? Who decided to hire white architects from New Orleans? Alas, the archival record is silent on who made these crucial decisions. The architectural model survived, thanks to Lillie Crowder, an African American architect who worked at the Board of Education for thirty years, and the working drawings are housed in the New York City Municipal Archives. However, researchers noted that in the late 1960s the BOE started refusing to share information about the school.29 Potentially rich sources for it, the monthly meeting minutes of the BOE’s Committee on Buildings and Sites, were collected only sporadically after the Board of Education reorganized in 1961, just as IS 201 entered its purview.

According to community leaders, the battle for an integrated school started in 1958. Parents learned that the Board of Education intended to build the new junior high school to relieve overcrowding in James Fennimore Cooper Junior High School (JHS) 120 and JHS 45.30 When parents warned the superintendent of schools, John Theobald, that the proposed location near the East Harlem Triangle would obviate their goal of desegregation, he set aside the proposal to build the new school and supported instead the community’s plan to bus a modest number of students from East Harlem to Yorkville schools.31 The pledge not to build in East Harlem proved to be the first of many broken promises.

For some Harlem parents, though, a new junior high school in the Triangle was much preferable to other options. The New York City Planning Commission announced in June 1961 that it intended to rezone a substantial portion of East Harlem as an industrial park. Outraged, Alice Kornegay, already renowned as an activist, organized the East Harlem Triangle Community Association and demanded a new junior high school as part of her strategy to defeat the rezoning plan. Kornegay saw a racially integrated, up-to-date school as the surest guarantee of a high-quality education for Harlem children. She called for the BOE to make a new school “with superior standards and with unique facilities.” Such a school “must attract students from all parts of New York, resulting in an exchange of ideas, ambitions, and interests between students of all racial, economic, and cultural backgrounds.”32

By 1961 the Board of Education had selected a site for the school: the short city block from East 127th to East 128th Street, between Madison Avenue and the Park Avenue viaduct. When the proposal for what was promised to be an integrated school was released, the Harlem community raised questions about several matters, especially segregation, air-conditioning, and the lack of space for play.33 The chairman of the City Planning Commission, James Felt, concurred about the playground, and at the public hearing held on August 14, 1962, he instructed the BOE to “initiate proceedings now for acquisition of property for a playground for this school.”34 As in earlier slum-clearance projects, a warehouse, a church, tenements, row houses, and an apartment house—worn buildings, but the places where everyday life was lived in East Harlem—would be demolished to make way for a public project that was planned with minimal citizen participation.35

Proximity to the Triborough Bridge, the Board of Education claimed, would make it possible for children from overcrowded schools in Harlem, the South Bronx, and Queens to attend the new school. Dumbfounded, Harlem parents pointed out that white parents would refuse to send their children to school in an impoverished community of color that had more than its fair share of social problems. They demanded that the BOE relocate the school, present a clear plan for integration, and hire a Black male principal.36

The Board of Education refused to budge. Eugene F. Hult, the head of the Office of School Facilities Planning, offered this explanation to a reporter in 1966: “In a big system like this, where we build 30 or 40 schools a year, we just don’t have time to consult the local people,” he said. Even if the consultation had taken place, Hult indicated that a change in the architectural concept would have been unlikely because “the design was a new concept which the pedagogy people wanted.”37

Hult referred to the open-plan, windowless classrooms that the Educational Facilities Laboratories (EFL) promoted for schools. Organized in 1958 and backed by the Ford Foundation, the EFL funded experiments in all matters pertaining to schools including design and construction.38 In 1962, the EFL invited a research unit at the architecture school at the University of Michigan to test the desirability of the windowless classroom, and published the findings in a report that hailed the design.39 Explaining that advances in air-conditioning and artificial illumination rendered windows technologically obsolete, the EFL counseled architects to discard them altogether in schools. The long-standing symbolic association of light with education was ignored.40 Because windows distracted children, especially boys, by drawing their attention to the world outside the school, the EFL asserted that a windowless classroom would improve the attention span of students, offer economy in construction, increase security, and engender flexibility in planning. A windowless classroom facilitated the open classroom and “interdependence among teachers,” including those who were reluctant to embrace new informal methods of instruction.41

When news of the Michigan experiment was leaked to the press, the Wall Street Journal published a front-page exposé. Teachers were concerned about autonomy, noise, and claustrophobia, parents about the use of their children as human subjects, and the glass industry about the loss of business. Even Jonathan King, the chief administrator of the EFL, expressed some ambivalence.42 Not so the New York City Board of Education: it forged ahead, and not only for purposes of pedagogical innovation.

The BOE faced a perfect storm of competing regulations pertaining to school design. School buildings in New York State needed to be located in areas relatively free from “injurious chemicals and dust”—not the case next to the railroad.43 An experimental windowless school could resolve that problem, but regulations also required generously sized windows (but not necessarily ones that opened) in each classroom.44 The Cuban Missile Crisis helped resolve the regulatory conundrum. In response to the prospect of nuclear war, the state’s education department announced in 1963 that it would permit windowless classrooms in the basements of schools that were used as fallout shelters.45 Although school districts in cities of over one million inhabitants were exempt from obtaining state review and approval of plans and specifications, the green light was welcome. One year later, the Board of Education informed the Office of Civil Defense that IS 201 also could double as a fallout shelter because of “many inherent features” in the design. By way of proof, it sent the perspective view and two photographs of the architectural model.46 One photo had been published in Time magazine in 1963, illustrating a story that touted the benefits of air-conditioning in windowless schools and other institutional buildings.47

An Equalization School in East Harlem

Enter Curtis and Davis. Controversy had touched the firm again and again because of contentious buildings and charges of unethical practice, but it was well regarded in 1960 including for the innovative public schools that it designed for Black neighborhoods in New Orleans—high-quality equalization schools such as the Thomy Lafon Elementary School in “Back of Town.” Winner of the National AIA First Honor Award, this public school was widely publicized (featured in LIFE magazine in 1954) and even exhibited in Moscow in 1959; a photograph of the school was hung at the entry to the United States Trade and Cultural Fair in Sokolinki Park (site of the famous kitchen debate between Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev).48

With that kind of publicity (and the backing of powerful mentors such as the architect Walter Gropius, Davis’s teacher at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University), Curtis and Davis’s practice flourished. A junior partner, Walter Rooney, led the New York branch office. He looked for commissions for hotels that would, along with prisons and correctional facilities, embassies, and sports arenas, provide bread-and-butter work for the firm. The hotel commissions did not pan out, and Rooney set out to find other work, including IS 201.49

While the architects developed the design for a new junior high school, the Board of Education and the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects cosponsored a seminar on urban schools in 1963 with a new advisory committee on school design and construction. The list of participants included Dr. Benjamin Willis, the superintendent of schools in Chicago, Edward Logue, the director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and Jonathan King from the EFL. John F. Hennessy, a board member, committee chair, and prominent engineer, explained in the press release, “Much thought has been given suburban schools, but there has been virtually no extensive consideration of the requirements for City schools. These include, among others, special designs to confirm to limited sites, restricted play areas, relocation of tenants, and problems presented by temptations to vandalism.”50

Is it a coincidence that Hennessey highlighted the design challenges that Curtis and Davis faced in IS 201, including the small site, restricted play area, vandalism, and tenant relocation? Is it a coincidence that the EFL helped to fund the conference? Is it a coincidence that Rooney handled the arrangements? Clearly, the seminar set the stage for promoting a building that was already controversial in the community and among planning professionals.

Curtis and Davis called on lessons learned in New Orleans as they satisfied the strict requirements for a junior high school in New York City—classrooms for 1,800 students, an auditorium, a cafeteria, a gymnasium, and a playground.51 The site proved to be an intractable problem. Hult and his supervisor, Adrian Blumenfeld, ignored Felt’s mandate to provide additional playground space because it required clearing more buildings and relocating more tenants in a community weary of both (as a confidential memo had apprised BOE members in 1962).52 As a consequence, the problem of play remained where it had landed at the start of the design process, which was squarely in the architects’ laps. To address this pressing need, Curtis and Davis set the school back from Madison Avenue (to make space for the fenced playground), lifted the front end of the building fourteen feet off the ground, and supported it on concrete piers to create a covered plaza, intended as a public space and area for play. Unfortunately, to fit the building on the site, the architects had to push the school close to the railroad viaduct, with the attendant noise and air pollution.

The 1961 Zoning Resolution, which made the office tower and plaza ubiquitous in midtown Manhattan, likely influenced the decision to set the school back from Madison Avenue, as did the mentality of equalization.53 Two blocks north of the IS 201 site, a parochial school run by All Souls Church showed that a fine school, with generous operable windows, could be built on a short block that abutted the railroad viaduct. However, the short block did not have enough space for a junior high school and a playground given the preference for a low-slung, sleek, freestanding, modern school. The mentality of equalization required a midcentury modernist building with a small playground, not a multistoried, traditionally fenestrated building like All Souls.

Enter the windowless solution, favored by the professional staff in the pedagogy and construction departments at the BOE. A windowless school allowed flexibility in classroom use, facilitated the use of audiovisual aids, and promised to reduce operating and maintenance costs.54 Architects were starting to take note of the cost of energy (one reason the EFL promoted the windowless solution, the express concern being with the cost of heating, not air-conditioning).55 Vandalism had also caused window replacement to skyrocket in public schools. Broken windows figure prominently in The Diary of a Harlem Schoolteacher, the haunting account that Jim Haskins wrote about his experience in Harlem schools.56 And the Office of Civil Defense preferred a windowless school because it created an air-raid shelter at no cost to the federal government.

IS 201 does, in fact, have windows—to light its four entries and the administrative offices on the ground floor and the corridors upstairs. The “floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall expanses at the end of each corridor” are placed to “avoid a closed-in feeling,” Leonard Buder, the education reporter for the New York Times, explained in May 1966.57 Buder (often an apologist for the BOE) did not make clear that the cladding, perforated brick screens, rendered the hall glazing invisible from the street and masked the mechanical system of fresh air intakes. Rather, he emphasized that they protected glass from vandals.

For all the investment in the physical structure, for all the attention to detail, the emotional and psychological needs of Harlem children did not enter the discussion until it came time to promote the school to a public that was dubious about its merits. By design, children in a windowless classroom lose contact with the outside world; they have no measure by which to check the clock time that sets the pace inside the building against the rhythm of the world outside. Lillie Crowder alluded to these issues when she discussed IS 201: “This school had an interesting concept, captured by the architects, with the notion that the parents and administrators in Harlem would comprehend and like it,” Crowder said. But they gave “little thought at the time of the potential psychological effect on students on the inside . . . or other drawbacks, such as . . . the stench from [the use of covered exterior spaces] as a rest room” (Preston Wilcox also criticized the open arcade, used by homeless people).58 Crowder went on to criticize the architects for failing to grasp the specificities of the urban context or evince concern for the varieties of human experiences in buildings, especially among children.

Even so, the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects singled out the building for its top honor in 1966.59 Focusing on their perception of the area rather than students’ experiences, the jury applauded the school as “a courageous solution of the difficult problems inherent in the school’s neighborhood and in its restricted site.” The “imaginative and effective solutions to the problems of ‘environmental control’” also won praise.60 In keeping with the equalization schools that the architects had designed in New Orleans, no expense was spared inside the high-end iteration in New York. The Board of Education did not explain its reasoning for making this decision, but this much seems clear—on the one hand, the professional staff hoped the high-end design would attract white students to the school, and on the other hand, it expected that the promise of architectural excellence would produce acquiescence in Harlem, stifling protest about a segregated school—serving as “a palliative for anger,” as Wilcox stated. The basement was equipped with a wood shop, science lab, and other special classrooms; high-quality, durable finishes were used in the public spaces, including the auditorium and gymnasium on the second floor; and the classrooms were designed to be generous in scale. Curtis and Davis clad the building in red brick screens, and alluded to classical European, African, and Native American architecture with tapered columns and beams, a hypostyle hall, arcade, and kiva-inspired seating in the playground.

The criticism intensified so much so that the Board of Education asked Curtis and Davis to produce a brochure to explain the design rationale of the school.61 The architects described the organization of each floor and provided sketches to answer these questions: “Why is your school up in air?” “What makes rooms for thought? “What lights the scene?” “How does your classroom grow?” “How you can see the world?” “How does the air conditioning work?” In each case, the sketches emphasized protection, containment, and separation, and underscored the assumption that a child needed to be removed from the world outside the school if the child was to learn.

At this historical moment, an architectural argument predicated on enclosure and exclusion did not make sense in Harlem. Wilcox and many others argued that the world outside the school, the ghetto, ought to be embraced as a source of strength and pride. This sketch, titled “How You Can See the World,” is the most troubling, for its allusion to prisons (figure 8.3). Wilcox may have had this area of the building in mind when he wrote that, “I.S. 201 stands as a monument to absentee-decision-making, colonialism.” It is “a personal affront.”62

“How You Can See the World,” Curtis and Davis, 1966.

Figure 8.3 “How You Can See the World,” Curtis and Davis, 1966. Credit: To the Pupils and Parents, Arthur A. Schomburg Junior High School, from the Architects, Curtis and Davis, 1967. A copy is in New York City Municipal Archives.

To a thinker like Henri Lefebvre, abstract space, endemic in the mass-produced buildings of modern societies, diminishes “affective, bodily, lived experience.” This diminution has grave consequences; it does not “permit a continual back-and-forth” that all members of society need to forge the “consensus” that “confers upon them the status of ‘subjects.’”63 Through Lefebvre’s lens, the physical space of IS 201 cast children as objects. Yet the relations between a building and the larger world are not fixed at the time of construction, as Lefebvre also insisted. And, as bell hooks reminds us, places on the margins can incubate creative challenges to hegemonic social orders.64

A Space of Radical Openness for Children

“If one believes that a segregated white school can be a ‘good school,’” Preston Wilcox stated, “then one must believe that a segregated Negro and Puerto Rican school, like I.S. 201 can be a ‘good’ school also.”65 As the controversy at IS 201 escalated, the Ford Foundation entered the stage. McGeorge Bundy became president of the foundation in 1966, soon after John Lindsay, his good friend and college roommate at Yale University, had been elected mayor of New York City. Lindsay, who inherited the explosive situation in the city’s public schools, turned to Bundy for help.66

Under Bundy’s leadership, the foundation funded three experiments in local self-governance in 1967—“demonstration districts” in Brooklyn, the Lower East Side, and East Harlem—as a means of improving education. Harlem’s demonstration district centered on the IS 201 Complex, including the new intermediate school, four elementary schools, and a building where the governing board rented an office.67 The governing board of the IS 201 Complex, a key component of the self-governance plan, reflected the interracial, interfaith, and multiethnic coalition that had coalesced in support of community control. The board elected Isaiah Robinson president (he went on to become the first African American president of the Board of Education), and hired teachers, staff, and administrators of color including the acting principal, Ronald Evans. Ann Crary Evans, his partner, taught at Public School (PS) 133, one of the affiliated elementary schools.

The short-lived experiment in self-governance at IS 201 had identifiable accomplishments amid the controversy. Evans (like Wilcox) berated the central Board of Education for locating the new building near the railroad, hiring white architects, spending a fortune on an experimental design, and refusing to countenance citizen participation in the planning process. But he appreciated that the new building was well built, fully equipped, and without any rats. “So, it didn’t have any windows,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.68 The governing board issued a comprehensive manual full of information for Harlem and East Harlem residents, developed a community education center (Wilcox was the chief consultant), placed graduates in the city’s specialized high schools, and ran summer tutoring programs to prepare students for college (Smith College was one partner). It also reached out to the Latinx community (Evelina Antonetty, the president of United Bronx Parents, was an ally), supported bilingual education (the IS 201 Complex’s newspaper, Kweli, was published in Spanish and English), integrated Black and African studies into the curriculum, experimented with pedagogy, and fought for resources for students. Providing evidence that the curricular struggles that activist teachers and authors (as described in chapters 4 and 5 of this volume) had waged in earlier decades continued, Evans noted that “books by black scholars and writers like Claude McKay, James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes . . . were not on the approved book list,” but Evans included them.69 He found a mentor in Herbert Kohl, the radical educator and activist in East Harlem schools, and learned about other experimental pedagogies, including from the woman who would become his wife.70 Not every parent welcomed professionals relatively new to the struggle for better schools in East Harlem. Some (Helen Testamark was one) targeted radical educators who they believed had co-opted their hard work, promoted racial hatred, excluded them from the governance experiment, and ignored their demands for a community-based education that would empower their children.71

For Ann Evans, the IS 201 Complex was “magical.” “It was Camelot.”72 Ann taught for seven years at PS 133, where the principal, Dellora Hercules, agreed to participate in an experiment funded by the Center for Urban Education. The child-centered Gattegno approach to reading and math instruction was introduced into the first-, second-, and third-grade curricula in the fall of 1968. Like almost all the teachers in the IS 201 Complex, Ann stayed on the job during the citywide teachers’ strike that fall. “We were learning to start where we found each child and to build from there,” she said.73 Barbara Wilson-Brooks, who attended PS 133 from kindergarten through the fifth grade, benefited from the child-centered pedagogy. “The school really stood out for me because . . . we learned . . . that’s where we blossomed. Everybody cared for us.”74

The experiment ended abruptly, when the principal left for another school. This happened as the demonstration districts were being dismantled and replaced with a weaker form of governance known as community control. Ann Evans set aside teaching for other work. Looking back on this time in her life, she wrote, “The experiment in community control . . . will always be remembered as one, brief shining moment when the black and Hispanic community united to take charge of their own schools, and when education flourished as students and parents and teachers worked together in an atmosphere where the humanization of education . . . was taking place. . . . I disagree with those who dismiss the P.S. 133 project as a failed project because it didn’t last.”75

Wilson-Brooks moved to IS 201 for seventh and eighth grades, attending it after the demonstration district had been shut down. Although she was wary about coming to a school that had engendered so much controversy, she came to enjoy the place. She received what she felt was a fine education, one that included discussions of Black Power, African history, and culture. The building’s distinct design figured in her understanding of the school, and not only because it was a cause of the boycott. She took the high quality of the design, including the air-conditioning, to mean that IS 201 was intended for white students, too. “This is our community,” she said. “Why isn’t it good enough to have our children go there?”76

Michael Darby and Derrick Black attended IS 201 during Evans’s tenure and, as Wilson-Brooks did, they valued the school and their education. They also held Evans in high esteem, because he was personable and accessible, strict and fair, and he encouraged them to achieve. Black’s mother sent him to IS 201 because it was a good school with a strong academic program, and it was close to home, but not so close that it would expose him to the unwanted influences of “the crew.” He took the city bus, an “upscale” way for a student from Harlem to travel to public school. IS 201 appealed to both children because of its architectural presence; it also had amenities that other schools in Harlem lacked—the gymnasium (“pretty amazing,” Darby said), shops, labs, a cafeteria, and so forth. If their friends teased them about going to a windowless school, one that looked like a prison, they corrected the misapprehension, referring to the windows at the end of the hallways and in the administrative suite. “Outside in” was one way to see the school; “inside out” was another.77

Inside, teachers experimented with design, setting aside the front-facing layout of the traditional classroom for less authoritarian open-plan arrangements (also promoted by the EFL).78 Each classroom had an accordion wall, making it possible for up to four rooms to be joined into one. Black explained that teachers took advantage of this feature to encourage students to collaborate on group projects. Desks were not arranged in straight rows, and teachers did not sit at the front of the classroom; rather students worked in small groups and appointed a spokesperson who would present the work at the end of the session. Black emphasized that the traditional classroom, which he had experienced in elementary school, was less useful. “In a different environment people can face each other, share different ideas, just like we’re doing here,” he said.79

Students also learned that they could turn the architectural logic of the building inside out. Blondell Cummings, who had a brief experience as a substitute teacher at IS 201, remembered that pupils would walk down the hallways, reach into the classrooms, switch off the lights and then let the door close behind them, leaving the classroom in total darkness. Her story puzzled Darby and Black who remember that teachers controlled the lights with a special key, but they do agree with Cummings that the hallways enticed experimentation (and not of the sort that Evans encouraged). They played ball at the light wells, shooting a small ball, a spaldeen, over the railing. “It was like a league,” Black said, and went on to point out humorously that this game “helped us with hand and eye coordination.”80 He did not play sports after school because his mother wanted him to study, determined that he would go to college.

For Darby and Black, the boycott and strike have slipped from active memory (“we were kids”), but not the broader cause of Black Power and empowerment that shaped schooling at IS 201. Black mentioned dress and hair, and turned to other matters when asked if he recalled the assassination of Malcolm X. He nodded yes and went on to say that he also remembered that the assassination of “Dr. King had a huge impact on the country.” He reflected that “it was a moment. I got to be proud of my heritage, even though I wasn’t marching up and down the streets.”81

The governing board made it a priority to promote Black empowerment and Black Power. Architecture helped because the state-of-the-art school contained a beautiful auditorium. In this room, Herman Fergusson delivered an incendiary tribute to his mentor and friend, Malcolm X; James Baldwin and Betty Shabazz attended the ceremony and heard Fergusson call the Harlem community to arms (figure 8.4).82 Russell Rickford’s discussion (in chapter 9 of this volume) of IS 201 in the context of alternative Black educational spaces further illustrates how the school engaged Black culture and politics.

"Program for Malcolm X Memorial Service," February 21, 1969, cover

Figure 8.4 “Program for Malcolm X Memorial Service, February 21, 1969, cover. Credit: New York Public Library, Schomburg Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Babette Edwards Education Reform in Harlem collection, SC MG 809, box 6, folder 6.20, Malcolm X.

IS 201 also focused on the arts. Curtis and Davis expected that a windowless school would free a child’s imagination, but teachers knew better. They offered classes in dance, music, and theater, took their students outside to draw and paint, and displayed artwork in parks and playgrounds. They published catalogs (one title was “The Children Speak: Art from I.S. 201”); they included artwork in the school’s yearbook; and they engaged parents in activities that they ran for pupils in the streets alongside the school. The artwork was of such high quality that the American Museum of Natural History exhibited it in 1971.

And finally, IS 201 spawned other experiments, including those that centered on design. Both Isaiah Robinson and Preston Wilcox joined the board of directors of the Architects Renewal Committee in Harlem (ARCH) in the spring of 1968 after radical African American architects, engineers, and planners, led by J. Max Bond Jr., took over the leadership. ARCH developed a master plan for the East Harlem Triangle (at Kornegay’s request), created educational programs, such as Architecture in the Neighborhoods, which Mary Dowery directed, and proposed new buildings. High on the agenda was a new high school for Harlem.83

IS 201, a “monument to absentee-decision-making,” remains an enduring emblem of the violence that equalization schools and segregationist policy making caused for everyday people and their communities in the middle of the twentieth century. But, following Lefebvre’s point that spaces are constructed and appropriated, there is no single story to tell about IS 201. At this school, parents, teachers, administrators, and children of color engaged in the back-and-forth that made them subjects, not merely the objects of a technocratic, racist, architectural determinism. In the process, they also made this school belong to them.

Their activism changed Harlem and contributed to the broader cause of citizen participation in New York City, showing that the time-honored tools of protest, boycott, and community organizing at the neighborhood scale can change cities, schools, and architecture for the better. Their efforts even changed the city’s position on the school’s most derided feature.

The Board of Education’s Advisory Committee on School Construction met each month through the 1960s. The committee discussed all sorts of issues pertaining to design and construction. The minutes of the meeting held on June 13, 1968, noted that “the following items were reviewed.” This is the first item on the list: “The matter of windowless schools was discussed briefly. In the opinion of the committee, windowless schools were psychologically controversial and should not be encouraged in future work, unless for exceptional reasons.”84 The Educational Facilities Laboratories concurred, having executed a complete about-face as to the merits of the windowless classroom.85

Previous: Chapter 7 Next: Chapter 9

  1. James Bailey, “Harlem’s Besieged Masterpiece,” Architectural Forum 125, no. 4 (1966): 48–51. The name of this school has changed several times. In this essay I call it, “IS 201.” ↩︎

  2. Adina Back, “Exposing the ‘Whole Segregation Myth’: The Harlem Nine and New York City’s School Desegregation Battles,” in Freedom North: Black Freedom Struggles Outside the South, 1940–1980, ed. Jeanne Theoharis and Komozi Woodard (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 65–91. ↩︎

  3. Clarence Taylor, Knocking at Our Own Door: Milton A. Galamison and the Struggle to Integrate New York City Schools (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997); and City Wide Committee for Integrated Schools, “School Boycott! Flier,” Queens College Civil Rights Archives, accessed August 5, 2016. ↩︎

  4. State Education Commissioner’s Advisory Committee on Human Relations and Community Tensions, “Desegregating Public Schools in New York City” (New York: New York State Department of Education [hereafter NYSDOE] and New York City Board of Education [hereafter NYCBOE], 1964); and New York City Planning Commission [hereafter NYCPC], Plan for New York City 1969, vol. 1: Critical Issues (New York, 1969), cited in Prashant Banerjee et al., “Mid-Century Modern Schools: Preserving Post-War Modern Schools in New York,” Student project (New York: Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation, Historic Preservation Program, 2013), 8n5. ↩︎

  5. On community control, see among others Jerold Podair, The Strike That Changed New York: Blacks, Whites, and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Crisis (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2004); and Heather Lewis, New York City Public Schools from Brownsville to Bloomberg: Community Control and Its Legacy (New York: Teachers College Press, 2013). ↩︎

  6. “I.S. 201: Symbol of the Struggle for Justice in Urban Education,” East Harlem Protestant Parish Newsletter, October 1966, 4–5, in Municipal Archives of the City of New York Board of Education of the City of New York Collection (hereafter MA BOE), series 385, Rose Shapiro Papers 1961–1969 (hereafter RSP), subseries c, box 6, folder 18. ↩︎

  7. Michael R. Glass, “‘A Series of Blunders and Broken Promises’: I.S. 201 as a Turning Point,” accessed February 19, 2019. ↩︎

  8. The leaflet is reproduced in Thomas K. Minter, Intermediate School 201, Manhattan: Center of Controversy (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Graduate School of Education, 1967), 3. ↩︎

  9. Quoted in Jeremy Larner, “I.S. 201: Disaster in the Schools,” Dissent 45, no. 1 (1967): 27–33. ↩︎

  10. “A ‘Brick Concentration Camp,’” Jet, October 13, 1966, 16–17; Thomas A. Johnson, “Black Panthers Picket a School,” New York Times, September 13, 1966, 38; and William Knapp, Commanding Officer, Bureau of Special Services, Memo to Chief Inspector, re Dispute Between the Board of Education and East Harlem Parents and Community Leaders Involving Intermediate School #201 in Harlem, September 23, 1966, B.S.S. #548-M (Supplementary #10) in Numbered Communication Files, New York Police Department Surveillance Records, 1939–1973, MA. ↩︎

  11. Podair, Strike That Changed New York↩︎

  12. Rachel Devlin, A Girl Stands at the Door: The Generation of Young Women Who Desegregated America’s Schools (New York: Basic Books, 2018), 14–18, 58–65; James E. Ryan, Five Miles Away: One City, Two Schools, and the Story of Educational Opportunity in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 26–27; and Amy S. Weisser, “Marking Brown v. Board of Education: Memorializing Separate and Unequal Spaces,” in Sites of Memory: Perspectives on Architecture and Race, ed. Craig E. Barton (New York: Princeton Architecture Press, 2001), 97–108. ↩︎

  13. Marci Reaven, “Neighborhood Activism in Planning for New York City, 1945–1975,” Journal of Urban History, first published April 28, 2017. ↩︎

  14. Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991); and Lefebvre, “The Right to the City,” in Writings on Cities, ed. and trans. Eleonore Kofman and Elizabeth Lebas (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996), 147–59. ↩︎

  15. NYCBOE, Journal of the Board of Education of the City of New York (New York: City of New York, v.d.), entries dated January 4, 1962: 67, January 25, 1962: 162, February 28, 1962: 266, March 8, 1962: 399, April 16, 1962: 586, May 8, 1962: 730, July 8, 1962: 1104, August 22, 1962: 1371, 1469, October 11, 1962: 1524–25, May 12, 1964: 732, and November 18, 1964: 1723. ↩︎

  16. Diane Ravitch, The Great School Wars: A History of New York City Public Schools, 3rd ed. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), 294–95. ↩︎

  17. Babette Edwards, telephone conversation with author, June 16, 2014. ↩︎

  18. David Monteyne, Fallout Shelter: Designing for Civil Defense in the Cold War (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011), 194–98. ↩︎

  19. Cited by Claudius Coulin, “Introduction,” in Helmut Jacoby, Architectural Drawings (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1965), 5; and Alison Isenberg, Designing San Francisco: Art, Land and Urban Renewal in the City by the Bay (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2017), 243–46. (My thanks to Alison Isenberg for directing me to these sources.) ↩︎

  20. Department of Defense, Office of Civil Defense and National School Boards Association, “School Boards Plan for Civil Defense” (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1965), 20. ↩︎

  21. Ronald Evans suggested as much in an interview with the author, New York City, April 21 and 22, 2014. ↩︎

  22. “Background: Public Education in the Ghetto,” East Harlem Protestant Parish Newsletter (October 1966), 1, in RSP, subseries c, box 6, folder 18. ↩︎

  23. See, for example, Eric Schneider, Vampires, Dragons, and Egyptian Kings: Youth Gangs in Postwar New York (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999). ↩︎

  24. For similar points, see Monteyne, Fallout Shelter, 196. ↩︎

  25. Margaret Ruth Little, “Getting the American Dream for Themselves: Postwar Modern Subdivisions for African Americans in Raleigh, North Carolina,” Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum [hereafter B&L] 19, no. 1 (2012): 73–88; Amber N. Wiley, “The Dunbar High School Dilemma: Architecture, Power, and African American Cultural Heritage,” B&L 20, no. 1 (2013): 95–128; and Jennifer V. O. Baughn, “Where’s the White Columns? Architectural Imagery in The Help,” paper presented at the Southeast Chapter Society of Architectural Historians, Athens, Georgia, 2012 (unpublished paper in author’s possession). ↩︎

  26. Bailey, “Harlem’s Besieged Masterpiece,” 50. ↩︎

  27. Fred M. Hechinger, “I.S. 201 Teaches Lessons on Race,” New York Times, September 25, 1966, 199. ↩︎

  28. Preston R. Wilcox, “Architecture: A Palliative for Anger (draft),” 1, 2, 6, in Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library (hereafter Schomburg), Preston Wilcox Papers, MG 235, box 10, folder 10.6. ↩︎

  29. Carolyn Woods Eisenberg, “The Parents Movement at I.S. 201: From Integration to Black Power, 1958-1966: A Case Study of Developing Ideology” (PhD diss., Columbia University, 1971); and David Rogers, 110 Livingston Street: Politics and Bureaucracy in the New York City Public School System (New York: Vintage Books, 1968). ↩︎

  30. “I.S. 201: Symbol of the Struggle for Justice in Urban Education,” East Harlem Protestant Parish Newsletter, 4. The Board of Education also intended to close down JHS 172 located inside Benjamin Franklin High School. The BOE’s records indicate that a new school was being considered for East Harlem in 1961, not 1958. Board of Education, School Planning and Research Division, Status of Projects, Prepared for the 1-12-1961 meeting of the Committee on Buildings and Sites, in MA BOE, series 134, box 4, folder dated January 19, 1961. ↩︎

  31. Dorothy Jones, Inteview, January 1968, cited in Eisenberg, “Parents Movement at I.S. 201,” 41, 53; and Preston Wilcox, “Releasing Human Potential: A Study of East Harlem-Yorkville School Transfer. Prepared by The East Harlem Project and the NYC Commission on Human Rights” (1961), in MA BOE, series 321, James B. Donovan, 1961–1963, Subject Files, box 2, folder 32. ↩︎

  32. Alice Kornegay and Rev. George T. Fuller, “Statement of the East Harlem Triangle Community Association and Chambers Memorial Baptist Church Regarding the Construction of the Proposed Junior High School 201,” 1962, in Schomburg, Babette Edwards Education Reform in Harlem Collection (hereafter BEERHC), SC MG 809, box 3, folder 3.17. A copy of this statement, sent to Board of Education members, has yet to be found in the Municipal Archives. See also Earl Caldwell, “The Harlem Parents State a Case on IS 201,” New York Post, September 23, 1966; and Murray Kempton, “Insulted and Injured,” New York Post, September 22, 1966, clippings in RSP, subseries c, box 6, folder 16. ↩︎

  33. Parents and Community Groups from Harlem on I.S. 201, “Sequence of Events Surrounding Community Involvement with Public School 201,” June 20, 1966, 1, in RSP, subseries c, box 6, folder 18; and Melvin E. Schoonover, Making All Things Human: A Church in East Harlem (Eugene, Ore.: Wipf and Stock, 1969), 117–19. (My thanks to Brian Goldstein for directing me to this remarkable memoir.) ↩︎

  34. NYCPC, Meeting Minutes, January 3, 1962, 21, January 17, 1962, 81; August 14, 1962, 638–39 (quote). The Board of Education had an eye on a site for the playground across from the school on East 127th Street, one that would have required more building clearance; when it made these plans known to the community, they collapsed quickly. M. A. Farber, “I.S. 201 Play Site Stirs New Dispute,” New York Times, December 24, 1966. ↩︎

  35. For historic photographs of this fabric, see OldNYC, accessed February 10, 2019. ↩︎

  36. Parents and Community Groups from Harlem on I.S. 201, “Sequence of Events,” 4–5. ↩︎

  37. Quoted in Bailey, “Harlem’s Besieged Masterpiece,” 50. ↩︎

  38. For an overview, see Judy Marks, “A History of Educational Facilities Laboratories (E.F.L.),” (Washington, D.C.: National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities at the National Institute of Building Sciences, 2000; reprint, rev., 2001, 2009). ↩︎

  39. Architectural Research Laboratory, Department of Architecture, University of Michigan, The Effect of Windowless Classrooms on Elementary School Children: An Environmental Case Study by the Architectural Research Laboratory, Department of Architecture, University of Michigan (New York: Educational Facilities Laboratories, 1965), 17. ↩︎

  40. Catherine Burke, “Light: Metaphor and Materiality in the History of Schooling,” in Materialities of Schooling: Design, Technology, Objects, Routines, ed. Martin Lawn and Ian Grosvenor (Oxford: Symposium Books, 2005), 125–44. ↩︎

  41. Architectural Research Laboratory, Effect of Windowless Classrooms, 21–22. ↩︎

  42. Lawrence G. O’Donnell, “Windowless Buildings: Do They Hurt Morale or Boast Efficiency?” Wall Street Journal, March 12, 1962, 1. ↩︎

  43. Paul W. Seagers, “A Study to Define the New York State Statutes, Written and Implied, on Schoolhouse Ventilation,” for the NYSDOE, Division of School Buildings and Grounds (Albany: University of the State of New York, 1944), 8 ↩︎

  44. NYSDOE, Division of Educational Facilities Planning, “Manual of Planning Standards for School Buildings” (Albany: University of the State of New York, 1965), 27, 28. ↩︎

  45. My thanks to David Monteyne for sharing his copies of this document and the one cited in the note directly below this one. A. D. Dotter, Acting Director Division of School Buildings and Grounds, “Fallout Shelters. Memo to City, Village and District Superintendents, Supervising Principals, and Architects and Engineers, Dated February 1, 1963, State Education Department, University of the State of New York, Albany,” cited in Monteyne, Fallout Shelter, 321n10. ↩︎

  46. Office of School Buildings, NYCBOE, “Letter to James E. Roembke, Director, Architectural & Engineering Development Division, Office of Civil Defense, Dated May 8, 1964, New York, N.Y.,” cited in Monteyne, Fallout Shelter, 321n12. ↩︎

  47. “The Cool Age,” Time, August 2, 1963, 60. ↩︎

  48. “The No-Corridor School,” Architectural Forum, April 1953, 132–33; Keith Weldon Medley, “A Reason for Smiles in ‘Back-of-Town,’” LIFE, March 1954, 59–62; Arthur Q. Davis, It Happened by Design: The Life and Work of Arthur Q. Davis (New Orleans: Odgen Museum of Southern Art, University of New Orleans, and University Press of Mississippi, 2009), 17–18, 75–76; and Francine Stock, “Is There a Future for the Recent Past in New Orleans,” MAS Context 8 (2010): 1–17. AIA is the abbreviation for the American Institute of Architects. ↩︎

  49. Davis, It Happened by Design, 30–31; and Nathaniel Curtis, “Curtis and Davis: The Way to New York,” in My Life in Modern Architecture (New Orleans: University of New Orleans, 2002), chap. 5, accessed February 23, 2019. ↩︎

  50. NYCBOE, “Press Release (April 29, 1963),” in RSP, subseries b, box 4, folder 4. ↩︎

  51. Davis, It Happened by Design, 19, 78. ↩︎

  52. NYCBOE, Journal of the Board of Education of the City of New York, entries dated January 9, 1963: 14, January 23, 1963: 84. The 1962 memo is mentioned in Rose Shapiro, Memo to Sylvia Jaffee, November 4, 1966, and Sylvia Jaffee, “I.S. 201, Manhattan [November 1966],” in RSP, subseries c, box 6, folder 19. ↩︎

  53. The architects did not take advantage of the extra density, “the bonus,” that the new zoning resolution offered to developers who provided plazas in front of skyscrapers. The image, not the development process, was influential. (My thanks to M. Christine Boyer for helping me think through this point.) ↩︎

  54. For example, C. J. Arnold, “‘Take Out the Windows’—1961,” Educational Screen and Audiovisual Guide, June 1961, 280, 296; R. A. Frye, and Frank M. Standhardt, “See More—Hear More—Learn More in Windowless Rooms,” Educational Screen and Audiovisual Guide, June 1961, 275–77; and Eva G. McDonald and Eleanor Burts, “Opinions Differ on Windowless Classrooms: The Windowless Classroom Is a Controlled Laboratory; Windows Help to Promote Better Learning,” NEA Journal (October 1961): 12–14. (My thanks to Fr. Stephen M. Koeth for pointing me to these references.) ↩︎

  55. Leonard Buder, “New Schools Win Honors in Design,” New York Times, May 29, 1966, R1. ↩︎

  56. Jim Haskins, Diary of a Harlem Schoolteacher (New York: New Press, 1979; reprint 2007); and Leonard Buder, “Schools Seeking to Foil Vandals by Hiding Windows from View: One New Building Will Not Have Any—Screens to Protect Another,” New York Times, November 18, 1963, 35. ↩︎

  57. Buder, “New Schools Win Honors.” ↩︎

  58. Lily Mae Brown Crowder, email message to author, February 14, 2014; and Wilcox, “Architecture: A Palliative for Anger,” 3. ↩︎

  59. Buder, “New Schools Win Honors.” ↩︎

  60. Buder, “New Schools Win Honors.” ↩︎

  61. The brochure, “to the parents . . .” is in MA BOE, series 283, Office of the Secretary, Beatrice Steinberg, Subject Files, box 4, folder labeled Demonstration project-I.S. 201 Man. 1969-68-67. ↩︎

  62. Wilcox, “Architecture: A Palliative for Anger,” 2. ↩︎

  63. Wilcox, Lefebvre, Production of Space, 224; Adrian Forty, “Space,” in Words and Buildings: A Vocabulary of Modern Architecture (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2000), 270-75. ↩︎

  64. bell hooks, “Choosing the Margin as a Space of Radical Openness (1989),” in Women, Knowledge, and Reality: Explorations in Feminist Philosophy, ed. Ann Garry and Marilyn Pearsall (New York: Routledge, 1996), 48–55. ↩︎

  65. Preston Wilcox, “The Controversy over I.S. 201: One View and a Proposal,” Urban Review 1, no. 3 (1966): 13–16. The argument continues to resonate: Eliza Shapiro, “‘I Love My Skin!’ Black Parents Find Alternative to Integration,” New York Times, January 8, 2019. ↩︎

  66. Karen Ferguson, Top Down: The Ford Foundation, Black Power, and the Reinvention of Racial Liberalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 94–96. ↩︎

  67. Miriam Wasserman, “The I.S. 201 Story: One Observer’s Version,” Urban Review 3, no. 6 (1969): 3. ↩︎

  68. Evans interview, April 21 and 22, 2014. ↩︎

  69. Ronald Evans, email message to author, July 12, 2016. See also Haskins, Diary of a Harlem Schoolteacher; and Herbert R. Kohl, 36 Children (New York: Plume, 1988 [1967]). ↩︎

  70. Evans interview, April 21 and 22, 2014. ↩︎

  71. “Testimony Regarding the Appointment of Charles E. Wilson as Consultant to Act as Admininstrator of I.S. 201 Demonstration Project (April 23, 1968),” in RSP, subseries d, box 17, folder 7. ↩︎

  72. Evans interview, April 21 and 22, 2014. ↩︎

  73. Ann Crary Evans, “An Experiment in Humanizing Education,” in The Gattegno Effect: One Hundred Voices on One of History’s Greatest Educators, ed. Educational Solutions Worldwide, 112; and “Dr. Caleb Gattengo,” Kweli, Truth, Veridad, November 1969, cover, in BEERHC, SC MG 809, box 6, folder 6.9. ↩︎

  74. Barbara Wilson-Brooks, oral history interview and Neatline map exhibit, by Nina Wasserman with Viola Huang, Ansley T. Erickson, and Esther Cyna, New York City, 2014, 2016, in “Barbara Wilson-Brooks’ Harlem Community,” in Harlem Education History Project↩︎

  75. Evans, “Experiment in Humanizing Education,” 114. See also Lewis, New York City Public Schools↩︎

  76. Wilson-Brooks, oral history interview and Neatline map exhibit. ↩︎

  77. Michael Darby and Derrick Black, interview with author, New York City, July 28, 2016. ↩︎

  78. Inés Dussel, “Digital Classrooms and the New Economies of Attention: Reflections on the End of Schooling as Confinement,” in Designing Schools: Space, Place, and Pedagogy, ed. Kate Darian-Smith and Julie Willis (New York: Routledge, 2017), 233–34; and Amy F. Ogata, “Educational Facilities Laboratories: Debating and Designing the Postwar Schoolhouse,” in Darian-Smith and Willis, Designing Schools, 55–67. ↩︎

  79. Darby and Black interview. See also Herbert R. Kohl, The Open Classroom: A Practical Guide to a New Way of Teaching (New York: Vintage Books, 1969). ↩︎

  80. Darby and Black interview; and Blondell Cummings, Personal communication with Ansley T. Erickson, New York City, October 2, 2014, summary shared with the author by email, July 13, 2016. ↩︎

  81. Darby and Black interview. ↩︎

  82. Ferguson, Top Down, 146–48. ↩︎

  83. Marta Gutman and Richard Plunz, “Anatomy of Insurrection,” in The Making of an Architect, 1881–1981, ed. Richard Oliver (New York: Columbia University Press and Rizzoli, 1981), 206–7; and Brian Goldstein, Roots of Urban Renaissance: Gentrification and the Struggle over Harlem (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University 2017), 86–87. See also Mary Dowery, oral history interview with author, New York City, April 14, 2014. On the protest demanding a high school, rather than a state office building, see chapter 9 of this volume; and Goldstein, Roots of Urban Renaissance, chap. 2. ↩︎

  84. New York City Board of Education Advisory Committee on Construction, “Minutes of Meeting Held in the Office of Hugh Mclaren (June 13, 1966),” in RSP, subseries a, box 3, folder 30. ↩︎

  85. Marks mentions EFL’s interest in open-plan classrooms, but not in windowless ones. Marks, “History of Educational Facilities Laboratories.” ↩︎