Whittier Hall: A Bee-Hive of Single Femininity

| July 15, 2010

The opening of Whittier Hall in 1901 solved a serious problem for Teachers College by providing dormitory facilities for the single young women who flocked to New York from all over the country to take courses. It was not socially acceptable for young women to live on their own and boardinghouses in respectable neighborhoods were expensive.  The Whittier complex provided rooms and meals in the ninth floor dining room at a reasonable price under the care of a resident house mother. After a difficult first year of operation, the complex became so popular that the Evening Post referred to it as “a bee-hive of single femininity.”

The Whittier complex spans the east end of the block between 120th Street and 121st Street facing Amsterdam Avenue. The ten-story building was designed with four wings. The two interior wings, called Longfellow and Whittier, were dormitory rooms. The two wings on either end, called Lowell and Emerson, were intended to be commercial apartments for families. Stores on the ground floor catered to female customers and the soda fountain in the drug store was particularly popular for socializing. Eventually the entire complex became known as Whittier Hall.