The many faces of Princeton’s multipurpose ‘cage’

Alan Richards, University Archives, Princeton University Library

A Work in Progress: The much-anticipated opening of what PAW had dubbed the “cage for all seasons” encountered several obstacles, including labor shortages and a steel strike. When the Dec. 7, 1968, Princeton-Duke basketball game was moved back to Dillon Gym, The Daily Princetonian’s Greg Conderacci ’71 quipped, “The Jadwin Cage is coming. So is Christmas. Christmas will be here first.” The court was ready for Princeton’s Ivy League opener against Penn on Jan. 25, 1969, which the Tigers won, 74-62.

Robert Matthews, PAW Archives (left); PAW cover, April 3, 1991

Arriving Via the Backdoor: While Jadwin hosts games or practices for about a dozen Princeton teams, men’s basketball has been the biggest draw, winning 19 Ivy championships and scores of impressive nonconference games as well.

READ MORE Rally ’Round the Cannon: Gilded Cage

Pictured above are the Tigers’ victories against Notre Dame in 1977 (with Bob Roma ’79 driving to the basket, at left) and Loyola-Marymount in 1991 (Chris Marquardt ’92).

John Buchanan, Daily Princetonian Archives, May 5, 1970, issue

The Student Strike: In late April and early May 1970, Princeton students went on strike following the United States’ invasion of Cambodia. As PAW reported in its May 19, 1970, issue, “The climactic day of the week was Monday, May 4. Nearly 4,000 students, faculty, and staff members massed in Jadwin Gym and voted that the university ‘as an institution oppose the Cambodian invasion, American foreign policy, and domestic oppression.’” Student speakers included Leonard Brown ’71, at microphone above.

John Simpson ’66/PAW, July 20, 1981, issue

A Commencement Umbrella: When the weather is uncooperative during graduation week, Jadwin is available to host the festivities — though it doesn’t happen very often. This photo, from June 9, 1981, shows the first (and to date only) Princeton Commencement held in the gymnasium. The Class of ’81 has embraced that bit of history, adopting the class theme “’81 Reigns,” with an umbrella-toting tiger, at Reunions.

1979 Nassau Herald

Prove It All Night: In its early years, Jadwin also hosted concerts, including a legendary 1978 Bruce Springsteen show that made University officials reconsider hosting rock musicians. As PAW’s W. Barksdale Maynard ’88 wrote in 2013, concert promoter Bill Lockwood ’59 was summoned to Jadwin the morning after: “Students had stood on the metal folding chairs for much of the concert, grinding the tips of the legs into the basketball court and leaving thousands of circular scars. The repair bill was $15,000.” Since then, Maynard added, “concerts have been few in Jadwin Gym.”

Denise Applewhite/Office of Communications (left); Ethan Sterenfeld ’20

Recent Headliners: Jadwin’s events today are less likely to see spectators standing on chairs, unless perhaps to snap a selfie. Big draws in recent years included the Dalai Lama, who donned a Princeton baseball cap in 2014, to the delight of 4,200 spectators; and Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor ’76 and Elena Kagan ’81, who spoke to a full house at the October 2018 She Roars conference.