1847: The Free Academy of the City of New York (City College) opens.

1861:  A bill to establish a university of Brooklyn was introduced in the New York State Legislature on February 27, 1861. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that the governing body of the university would be composed of the mayor of Brooklyn and a committee of 24 others, but unlike City College, the school would not be tuition free. The bill, titled “To Incorporate the University of Brooklyn” passed on April 18th. Murray Horowitz in his book about the history of Brooklyn College states that because of the Civil War this bill was not acted upon.1

1870: Hunter College opens for women.

1904: NY State Senator Thomas C. Whitlock introduced Bill no.685 to create a Brooklyn University at the site of the Heffley School of Commerce on 243 Ryerson Street, which until 1899 had been part of Pratt Institute.  The opposition raised by the existing colleges in Brooklyn was so strong that the bill was amended and the new the school named the Heffley Collegiate Institute. Heffley never became the university of arts and sciences that Whitlock intended and remained a secretarial and trade school. 2

1907: A bill (N. 284; Int. No 271) titled “An act relating to the Brooklyn College, authorizing and empowering educational institutions in the city of New York to consolidate with, merge in or enter into contracts with the Brooklyn College and authorizing and empowering the City of New York to establish and maintain said college,”  was introduced in the NY State Senate. This bill was approved by Legislature and then sent to the Governor. The bill did not receive final approval. 3

1909: City College opens a teacher extension program in Brooklyn.

1917: City College opens an evening session at Boys High School in Brooklyn offering only non-laboratory classes for freshmen. Beginning enrollment was 500 men and by 1926, the number of students increased to 2000. 4

1923: Assemblyman Joseph Reich introduced a bill (Reich Bill of 1923) calling for the establishment of a free, independent public college in Brooklyn. This bill did not pass in the legislature. 5

1924: Hunter opens an evening extension at Girls Commercial High.

1924: The Love bill of 1924 (Bill No. 1285), `“An Act to Amend the Greater New York charter in relation to the establishment of a university in Brooklyn and other boroughs” was introduced in the State Legislature. Dr. Robinson from City College helped prepare this bill which called for a public, Brooklyn-run college with minimal city involvement. This bill, viewed as a precursor to the eventual establishment of a Board of Higher Education, passed in the Senate but was voted down in the Assembly. 6

1925: The Nicoll-Hofstadter Bill of 1925 called for the creation of a Board of Higher Education created from the existing Hunter and City trustees along with 3 additional members from the borough with the largest school population (Brooklyn).  The Board could expand existing colleges throughout the city or create new ones. Governor Al Smith vetoed this bill due to widespread political division. He said “when Brooklyn secures a university it is highly desirable that it get off to a good start and has the body of public opinion behind it.”7

1925: The Love bill of 1925 was spearheaded by Brooklyn Borough President Joseph Guider as an alternative to the Nicoll-Hofstadter Bill. This bill called for a university located in Prospect Park which would be controlled by the borough and free of CCNY. It failed to pass in the legislature. 8

1926: The bipartisan Nicoll-Hearn Bill of 1926 was signed into law on April 16, 1926.  This bill created a Board of Higher Education composed of the existing trustees of Hunter and City with three new members who would serve for nine years. The new appointees would be selected by the Mayor from the borough with the largest school population. Successors on the Board could be from any borough but there must be four members from each of the two boroughs with the largest school population as well as one member from the borough that had the smallest school population.  The existing Trustees of City and Hunter were not immediately disbanded. Rather, they had control over their respective institutions for three more years until the Board assumed full control. The new Board had the power to expand the city’s higher education system either by creating new branches of existing colleges or setting up new ones. Its initial charge was to set up a college center in the borough with the largest high school population which at the time was Brooklyn.  9

1926: The Board of Higher Education approves the opening of a branch of City College and a branch of Hunter College in downtown Brooklyn

1930: The Downing-Steingut bill calling for the merger of the Brooklyn branches of City and Hunter into Brooklyn College was introduced in the NY State Legislature.  Under this bill the Board of Higher Education would be disbanded and replaced by a Board of Trustees headed by the Mayor, the Comptroller, and the President of the Board of Alderman.  This bill failed to pass in the Legislature. 10

1930: On April 22, 1930, the Board of Higher Education voted to combine the Brooklyn branches of City College and Hunter College to form Brooklyn College.


1 “The University of Brooklyn,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 27 February 1861:1; Murray Horowitz, Brooklyn College the First Half Century (New York: Brooklyn College Press, 1981) 2.
2 “University for Brooklyn Proposed,” New York Times 12 March 1904:6; “To Fight Heffley Bill in the Legislature,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 16 March 1904:2; “Bill to Regulate Disposal of Sewage,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 16 March 1904:6; “Heffley Institute Burned with Loss of $150,000,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 25 January 1925: 5.
3 New York (State). Legislature. Senate, Journal of the Senate of the State of New York,  1907 130th session, part 1: 113, 1706, 1861, 1919, 1922, 2220; Willis Rudy, The College of the City of New York: a History (New York: City College Press, 1949) 383.
4 Willis Rudy, The College of the City of New York: a History (New York: City College Press, 1949) 383; “Collegiate Work by City Extends,” New York Times 16 May 1926: 16
5 “House Passes Free Kings College Bill” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 3 May 1923:2.
6 Willis Rudy, The College of the City of New York: a History (New York: City College Press, 1949) 384; New York (State). Legislature. Assembly, Journal of the Assembly of the State of New York. (Albany: Williams Press, 1924) 1907.
7 “Governor Smith Vetoes Bill for Colleges” New York Times 23 April 1925: 2
8 “Lone Protest Against Boro University,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 25 February 1925: 6.
9 Willis Rudy, The College of the City of New York: a History (New York: City College Press, 1949) 385-386.
10 “College of Its Own by New Merger Bill,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 29 March 30: 1.