Former Benjamin Franklin High School, now Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics

280 Pleasant Avenue
Eric Kebbon

This stately building was originally constructed by the NYC Board of Education after designs by Eric Kebbon, architect and superintendent of school buildings from 1938-51. The school was founded by educational theorist Leonard Covello, the nation’s first Italian-American high school principal, who believed in a community-centered approach to learning and the importance of integration and bilingual education. Covello devoted his career to improving the lives of immigrant children, and the school, which hosted a large number of Italian immigrants and subsequently Puerto Ricans, became an important touchstone for his theories. In 1945, Frank Sinatra famously visited the school after a race-related incident broke out between groups of African American and Italian-American students. To ease tensions, Sinatra, one of the country’s most famous Italian-Americans, performed the reconciliatory song Aren’t You Glad You’re You?  The school closed in 1982 due to poor performance, and was transformed into the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, which offers a rigorous curriculum and high graduation rate.