HI C, Spuyten Duyvil

by Kevin Walsh

The blue and white 60-foot by 60-foot Columbia University “C” has been painted and repainted on the gneiss rock facing the Harlem River in Spuyten Duyvil, Bronx, since 1952. Originally conceived by Robert Prendergast, a medical student of Columbia University and coxswain on the heavyweight rowing crew team, Prendergast approached the New York Central Railroad for permission (which was given) to have this sign painted on the 100-foot-high wall of Fordham Gneiss, which was completed in the fall of 1952 by the rowers of the crew team, which continues to maintain it.

Columbia swim teams have raced from the Manhattan to the Bronx sides at the C across the river for decades. Wien Stadium, used by Columbia for football, soccer and other sports, is nearby on Broadway. The sign continues to be maintained by Columbia’s crew teams.

For decades, Marble Hill kids have climbed the Columbia rock and jumped into the waters below. Circle Line patrons would sometimes see a brave diver jump from a 100-foot height into the Harlem River. 

(Believe it or not, your webmaster is a lettered athlete. I earned a C, powder blue, like Columbia’s, for being on the Cathedral Prep High School bowling team, and a F from St. Francis College for the same.)



George Carter November 6, 2013 - 8:54 am

why is this under “forgotten” ny? it’s still there.

Yvonne November 6, 2013 - 9:19 am

I just love saying “Spuyten Duyvil” or “spitten devil” as I like to accept as its meaning 🙂

Tom November 6, 2013 - 6:35 pm

Too bad Columbia’s football team can’t play as well as their crew teams paint…..That C is a pretty cool site if you take the Circle Line.

Bill November 7, 2013 - 11:01 am

In Jim Carroll’s book The Basketball Diaries, there’s a memorably offensive passage about diving off that cliff. Jim or one of his fellow divers sees some sewage/trash floating in the Harlem and says somthing like “Wow, look at the size of those rubbers! People in this sewer district must have some big d__ks.”


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