Architecture Images-Harlem and the Heights
A BRIEF HISTORY OF COLUMBIA
Known first as King's College, Columbia University was established in 1754 and had its first campus on land donated by Trinity Church in 1755. Following the American Revolution, the school's name was changed to Columbia College. In 1857 the college moved to the site behind St. Patrick's Cathedral, occupying a former asylum for the deaf and dumb (near where Rockefeller Center stands today). In 1891, having outgrown its midtown site, Columbia moved to Morningside Heights--an area then being developed as New York's new cultural and institutional 'Acropolis.' The college bought the site of the Bloomingdale Asylum.
Constructed in large part between 1893 and 1913, the college was based on a master plan that called for a dense urban campus with a narrow, central quadrangle and six small side courtyards. Two terraces flanking 116th Street were introduced later in order to adapt the campus to the steeply sloped site. Inspired by architectural and planning practices employed at the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, this plan was designed as a small-scale City Beautiful.
Centered around Low Library, the upper terrace contains two groups of classroom buildings arranged along axial avenues and intimate courts. Added to the plan in 1903, the lower terrace contains dormitory and classroom buildings, athletic fields and Butler Library. The overal plan relates to the city grid while defining a seperate institutional enclave. Having initially considered the Gothic Revival style for the campus buildings, the architects ultimately settled on classical and Renaissance models. With rusticated granite bases, these buildings turn their back to the street, forming a fortress-like wall that creates a distinct academic precinct, isolated from the city.
Columbia University was founded in 1754 as King's College by royal charter of King George II of England. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States.
Controversy preceded the founding of the College, with various groups competing to determine its location and religious affiliation. Advocates of New York City met with success on the first point, while the Anglicans prevailed on the latter. However, all constituencies agreed to commit themselves to principles of religious liberty in establishing the policies of the College.
The American Revolution brought the growth of the college to a halt, forcing a suspension of instruction in 1776 that lasted for eight years. However, the institution continued to exert a significant influence on American life through the people associated with it. Among the earliest students and trustees of King's College were John Jay, the first chief justice of the United States; Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the treasury; Gouverneur Morris, the author of the final draft of the U.S. Constitution; and Robert R. Livingston, a member of the five-man committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence.
In 1857, the College moved from Park Place, near the present site of city hall, to Forty-ninth Street and Madison Avenue, where it remained for the next forty years. During the last half of the nineteenth century, Columbia rapidly assumed the shape of a modern university. The Columbia School of Law was founded in 1858, and the country's first mining school, a precursor of today's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, was established in 1864. The first Columbia Ph.D. was awarded by the Faculty of Political Science in 1883.
Low's greatest accomplishment, however, was moving the university from Forty-ninth Street to the more spacious Morningside Heights campus, designed as an urban academic village by McKim, Mead, and White, the renowned turn-of-the-century architectural firm. Architect Charles Follen McKim provided Columbia with stately buildings patterned after those of the Italian Renaissance. The University continued to prosper after its move uptown in 1897.
Columbia became, in the words of College alumnus Herman Wouk, a place of "doubled magic," where "the best things of the moment were outside the rectangle of Columbia; the best things of all human history and thought were inside the rectangle."
The study of the sciences flourished along with the liberal arts. Franz Boas founded the modern science of anthropology here in the early decades of the twentieth century, even as Thomas Hunt Morgan set the course for modern genetics. In 1928, Columbia–Presbyterian Medical Center, the first such center to combine teaching, research, and patient care, was officially opened as a joint project between the medical school and The Presbyterian Hospital.
By the late 1930s, a Columbia student could study with the likes of Jacques Barzun, Paul Lazarsfeld, Mark Van Doren, Lionel Trilling, and I. I. Rabi, to name just a few of the great minds of the Morningside campus. The University's graduates during this time were equally accomplished—for example, two alumni of Columbia's School of Law, Charles Evans Hughes and Harlan Fiske Stone (who was also dean of the School of Law), served successively as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
Columbia celebrated its bicentennial in 1954 during a period of steady expansion. This growth mandated a major campus building program in the 1960s, and, by the end of the decade, five of the University's schools were housed in new buildings.
In recent decades, Columbia's campuses have seen a revival of spirit and energy that have been truly momentous. Under the leadership of President Michael Sovergn, the 1980s saw the completion of important new facilities, and the pace intensified after George Rupp became president in 1993. A 650-million-dollar building program begun in 1994 provided the impetus for a wide range of projects, including the complete renovation of Furnald Hall and athletics facilities on campus and at Baker Field, the wiring of the campus for Internet and wireless access, the rebuilding of Dodge Hall for the School of the Arts, the construction of new facilities for the Schools of Law and Business, the renovation of Butler Library, and the creation of the Philip L. Milstein Family College Library.
The University also continued to develop the Audubon Biotechnology and Research Park, securing Columbia's place at the forefront of medical research. As New York City's only university-related research park, it also is contributing to economic growth through the creation of private-sector research collaborations and the generation of new biomedically related business.
A new student-activities center, Alfred Lerner Hall, opened in 1999 and features the Roone Arledge Auditorium and Cinema. Current building projects include major renovations to Hamilton Hall and Avery Library.
These and other improvements to the University's physical plant provide a visible reminder of the continuing growth and development of Columbia's programs of research and teaching. From its renowned Core Curriculum to the most advanced work now under way in its graduate and professional schools, the University continues to set the highest standard for the creation and dissemination of knowledge, both in the United States and around the world.
Clear in its commitment to carrying out such a wide-ranging and historic mission, and led by a new president, Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia is proud to celebrate its 250th anniversary and look ahead to the achievements to come.
THE COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
The architectural centerpiece of the campus is Low Memorial Library, named in honor of Seth Low's father. Built in the Roman classical style, it appears in the New York City Register of Historic Places. The building today houses the University's central administration offices and the visitors center.
A broad flight of steps descends from Low Library to an expansive plaza, a popular place for students to gather, and from there to College Walk, a promenade that bisects the central campus. Beyond College Walk is the South Campus, where Butler Library, the university's main library, stands. South Campus is also the site of many of Columbia College's facilities, including student residences, Alfred Lerner Hall (the student center), and the College's administrative offices and classroom buildings, along with the Graduate School of Journalism.
To the north of Low Library stands Pupin Hall, which in 1966 was designated a national historic landmark in recognition of the atomic research undertaken there by Columbia's scientists beginning in 1925. To the east is St. Paul's Chapel, which is listed with the New York City Register of Historic Places.
Many newer buildings surround the original campus. Among the most impressive are the Sherman Fairchild Center for the Life Sciences and the Morris A. Schapiro Center for Engineering and Physical Science Research. Two miles to the north of Morningside Heights is the 20-acre campus of the Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan's Washington Heights, overlooking the Hudson River. Among the most prominent buildings on the site are the 20-story Julius and Armand Hammer Health Sciences Center, the William Black Medical Research Building, and the 17-story tower of the College of Physicians and Surgeons. In 1989, The Presbyterian Hospital opened the Milstein Hospital Building, a 745-bed facility that incorporates the very latest advances in medical technology and patient care.
To the west is the New York State Psychiatric Institute; east of Broadway is the Audubon Biomedical Science and Technology Park, which includes the Mary Woodard Lasker Biomedical Research Building, the Audubon Business Technology Center, Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion, and the Irving Cancer Research Center as well as other institutions of cutting-edge scientific and medical research.
In addition to its New York City campuses, Columbia has two facilities outside of Manhattan. Nevis Laboratories, established in 1947, is Columbia's primary center for the study of high-energy experimental particle and nuclear physics. Located in Irvington, New York, Nevis is situated on a 60-acre estate originally owned by the son of Alexander Hamilton.
The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory was established in 1949 in Palisades, New York, and is a leading research institution focusing on global climate change, earthquakes, volcanoes, nonrenewable resources, and environmental hazards. It examines the planet from its core to its atmosphere, across every continent and every ocean.