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Olive-Harvey College began as two colleges. In the late 1950s, Fenger and Southeast Junior Colleges were established. These two campuses were consolidated and renamed Olive-Harvey College in 1970. The college moved into nine buildings at its present site at Woodlawn Avenue and 101st Street pending the construction of a new building. 

The college is named in honor of two Chicagoans who lost their lives in the Vietnam War. PFC Milton Lee Olive III, an 18-year-old paratrooper, saved the lives of fellow soldiers by jumping on a live grenade. Carmel Bernon Harvey Jr., a 20-year-old infantryman, charged a machine gun position while defending a grounded helicopter. His actions enabled two wounded Americans to evacuate the area. 

In 1981, the main campus of OHC was completed with the opening of a four-level building on a 67-acre campus. It’s the largest campus of any of the seven City Colleges.

In 1988, the college completed construction of the South Chicago campus, which provides additional educational programs and services in the heart of South Chicago. 

Today, Olive-Harvey College serves as the transportation, distribution, and logistics (TDL) hub for City Colleges of Chicago, offering a large selection of TDL programs to prepare students for the 110,000 TDL jobs coming to the region over the next decade. A $45 million TDL facility is currently under construction to produce the highly-skilled professionals needed to meet future industry demand.​