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Shimoda Mayor returns to honor CCNY founder Townsend Harris in first post-pandemic visit

by Jay Mwamba (original article)

More than 175 years after he founded The City College of New York and went on to forge U.S.-Japan relations, the lure of Townsend Harris continues in the Far East. On Sunday, July 16, 2023, Mayor Shoichiro Matsuki leads a civic delegation from the city of Shimoda to CCNY to pay homage to Townsend. The annual Japanese visits began in 1986. Interrupted by the COVID pandemic, this is their first visit since 2019.

“This year marks 167 years since Harris arrived in Shimoda on August 21, 1856 to open the first American consulate,” said CCNY archivist Sydney Van Nort. “As first consul general there, he negotiated the treaty that is credited for opening the Japanese Empire to foreign trade and culture. Owing to his goodwill, openness and honesty, Harris quickly gained the respect and affection of the Japanese people, and is revered there to this day.” 

Mayor Matsuki and his delegation will attend a lecture by Van Nort on the life and career of Harris, a prominent New York merchant who founded CCNY as The Free Academy in 1847. They will view documents from the Townsend Harris Papers Collection in CCNY’s Morris Raphael Cohen Library.

For more information on the Shimoda delegation’s visit to The City College, please call the CCNY Archives at (212) 650-7609.

About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided a high-quality and affordable education to generations of New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. CCNY embraces its position at the forefront of social change. It is ranked #1 by the Harvard-based Opportunity Insights out of 369 selective public colleges in the United States on the overall mobility index. This measure reflects both access and outcomes, representing the likelihood that a student at CCNY can move up two or more income quintiles. Education research organization Degree Choices ranks CCNY #1 nationally among universities for economic return on investment. In addition, the Center for World University Rankings places CCNY in the top 1.8% of universities worldwide in terms of academic excellence. Labor analytics firm Emsi puts at $1.9 billion CCNY’s annual economic impact on the regional economy (5 boroughs and 5 adjacent counties) and quantifies the “for dollar” return on investment to students, taxpayers and society. At City College, more than 15,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in eight schools and divisions, driven by significant funded research, creativity and scholarship. This year, CCNY launched its most expansive fundraising campaign, ever. The campaign, titled “Doing Remarkable Things Together” seeks to bring the College’s Foundation to more than $1 billion in total assets in support of the College mission. CCNY is as diverse, dynamic and visionary as New York City itself. View CCNY Media Kit.