Hunter College was primarily a commuter college; there weren’t any dorms on the campus grounds. The Navy needed housing for 8,000-10,000 women at a time (plus instructors), so it turned to the Bronx neighborhood for help. Apartments surrounding the campus were commandeered by the Navy for the duration of the war.
An article in the New York Times talked about this development:
While merchants on Kingsbridge Road, the nearest shopping center, all claimed their businesses would suffer, none complained. Businessman Max Steubens, who ran a self-serve market, depended on the 13 apartments for most of his business, but when interviewed said, “I’m more than willing to do my share toward the war effort” (1.13.43) A few days after this, complaints arose because nearby apartments were raising rent for the occasion. The situation was investigated and The New York Times made sure to note that, “The complaints they received were logical and natural and not at all unpatriotic” (1.14.43)
This photograph comes from a postcard booklet designed for WAVES recruits to send it home to their parents, families and friends. It shows the converted apartments, where women lived 8-10 to a one bedroom unit. It is from the Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.