The Palestra turns 90 on Sunday

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Penn’s wrestling team and women’s volleyball squad also call the Palestra home. And the arena has hosted high school and professional games over the years. For a time, the Philadelphia 76ers played occasionally at the Palestra. In 2011, a group of NBA stars played an exhibition there before 8,000 fans during the NBA lockout.

But the Palestra has always been first and foremost about the college game: It’s been called the “Cathedral of College Basketball.” In 1998, Roy Williams brought his University of Kansas squad to West Philadelphia to play Penn because the Jayhawks’ radio play-by-play man, Bob Davis, wanted to call a game there.

On Jan. 7, a Big Ten school will play host at the famed building as Penn State meets Michigan State. Long-time Spartans coach Tom Izzo will finally get to coach a game at the Palestra.

“They all tell me I’ve got to get to the Palestra,” Izzo said during a press conference in 2014. “One of these years, I’m gonna be dumb enough to do it.”

Charles Klauder, the architect who brought the building to life on South 33rd Street, probably had no idea that his arena would become a mecca for hoop heads. But that’s what it is today: Mention the Palestra to most any college basketball fan, and just watch the smile of recognition. As former Penn coach and current Temple coach Fran Dunphy put it, “When it's filled, and it's a crazy atmosphere, it's kind of indescribable. I don't think you can ever pinpoint in words what it's like. I think people have to experience it.”

Do you remember going to games at the Palestra? Were you there during that magical 1978-79 season when the Quakers advanced to the Final Four? Or perhaps you were a student during Dunphy’s glory years in the mid-90s, when Penn won or shared four straight Ivy League championships?

Whatever your recollections, we want to hear about them. Send us your memories of the Palestra by going to We may use your stories and photos in future eLetters.