The founding of the college was preceded by controversies in which various groups vied for the location and religious affiliation. The New York City attorneys succeeded on the first point, while the Anglicans prevailed on the second. However, all constituencies agreed to commit themselves to the principles of religious freedom in determining the policy of the college.
Colombia's first home: the Trinity Church schoolhouse
In July 1754, Samuel Johnson gave the first class in a new schoolhouse next to Trinity Church, located on what is now Lower Broadway in Manhattan. There were eight students in the class. At King's College future leaders of colonial society could receive an education aimed at 'expanding the mind, improving understanding, polishing the whole person and qualifying them to support the brightest characters in all the higher stations of life '. An early manifestation of the institution's lofty goals was the establishment of the first American medical school in 1767 to award the doctorate.
The American Revolution stalled the college's growth and, in 1776, enforced an eight-year hiatus from classes. However, the institution continued to exert a significant influence on American life through the people associated with it. King's College's early students and curators included John Jay, the United States' first chief justice; Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury; Governor Morris, the author of the final draft of the US Constitution; and Robert R. Livingston, a member of the five-person committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence.
The college reopened in 1784 under a new name - Columbia - which epitomized the patriotic zeal that had inspired the nation's quest for independence. The revived institution was recognizable as a descendant of its colonial ancestor thanks to its leaning towards Anglicanism and the needs of an urban population, but there were important differences: Columbia College reflected the legacy of the Revolution in the wider economic, denominational, and geographic diversity of its new students and executives. The isolated campus life gave way to the more common phenomenon of day students living at home or in the city.
Columbia's third home: East 49th Street and Madison Avenue
In 1857 the college moved from Park Place, near what is now City Hall, to Forty-ninth Street and Madison Avenue, where it remained for the next forty years. In the latter half of the 19th century, Colombia quickly took on the shape of a modern university. The Columbia School of Law was founded in 1858. The country's first mining school, a forerunner of today's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, was founded in 1864 and received the first Columbia Ph.D. in 1875.
When Seth Low became Columbia's president in 1890, he vigorously promoted the university ideal for college by placing the fragmented federation of autonomous and competing schools under a centralized administration based on collaboration and shared resources. Barnard College for women had joined Columbia in 1889; In 1891 the medical faculty of the university and in 1893 the Teachers College was subordinated. The development of political science, philosophy, and pure science faculties made Columbia one of the first centers for academic education in the country. In 1896, the Trustees officially approved the use of another new name, Columbia University, and today the institution is officially known as Columbia University in the City of New York.
Columbia's fourth home: Morningside Heights
Low's greatest accomplishment, however, was moving the university from Forty-ninth Street to the more spacious Morningside Heights campus, which was designed as an urban academic village by McKim, Mead and White, the prestigious turn-of-the-century architecture firm. The architect Charles Follen McKim provided Columbia with stately buildings modeled on the Italian Renaissance. The university continued to flourish after moving downtown in 1897.
During the presidency of Nicholas Murray Butler (1902–1945) Columbia developed into a pre-eminent national center for educational innovation and academic achievement. The School of Journalism was founded in 1912 by a legacy from Joseph Pulitzer. John Erskine taught the first Great Books Honors seminar at Columbia College in 1919, making the study of the original masterworks the basis of undergraduate education and a course in war and peace studies that same year established the college's influential core curriculum.
The construction of the Low Memorial Library
Columbia became, in the words of college alumnus Herman Wouk, a “double magic” place where “the best things of the moment were outside the rectangle of Columbia; the best things in all of human history and thought were inside the rectangle. '
The study of the natural sciences flourished along with the liberal arts. Franz Boas founded the modern science of anthropology here in the first decades of the 20th century, even when Thomas Hunt Morgan was setting the course for modern genetics. In 1928 the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, the first such center to combine teaching, research and patient care, was officially opened as a joint venture between the medical school and the Presbyterian Hospital.
In the late 1930s, a Columbia student could study with Jacques Barzun, Paul Lazarsfeld, Mark Van Doren, Lionel Trilling, and I. I. Rabi, to name a few of the great minds of the Morningside campus. The university's alumni during this period were equally successful - for example, two Columbia School of Law alumni, 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 Dish.
The construction of the South Hall (later renamed the Butler Library)
The exploration of the atom by faculty members I. I. Rabi, Enrico Fermi and Polykarp Kusch brought Columbia's Department of Physics to international fame in the 1940s. The establishment of the School of International Affairs (now the School of International and Public Affairs) in 1946 marked the beginning of an intensive development of international relations as a scientific focus of the university. The oral history movement in the United States started in Columbia in 1948.
Colombia celebrated its 200th anniversary in 1954 in a time of constant expansion. That growth required an extensive campus building program in the 1960s, and by the end of the decade five of the universities were housed in new buildings.
In the 1960s, Colombia also experienced the most significant crisis in its history. Currents of unrest that gripped the country - including opposition to the Vietnam War, an increasingly militant civil rights movement, and the ongoing decline of American downtown areas - converged with particular force in Columbia and brought the Morningside campus into the national limelight. More than 1,000 protesting students occupied five buildings in the last week of April 1968, effectively closing the university until they were forcibly removed by New York police. These events led directly to the cancellation of a planned Morningside Park gym, the suspension of certain classified research projects on campus, the retirement of President Grayson Kirk, and a decline in the university's finances and morale. They also led to the establishment of the University Senate, in which faculty, students and alumni were given a greater voice in university matters.
Statue of Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton Hall
In the past few decades, Columbia campuses have seen a truly meaningful revival of spirit and energy. Major new buildings were completed in the 1980s under the leadership of President Michael Sovern, and the pace accelerated after George Rupp became president in 1993. A $ 650 million construction program begun in 1994 gave rise to a variety of projects, including the complete renovation of Furnald Hall and the athletics facilities on campus and at Baker Field, the cabling of the campus for Internet and WiFi, the remodeling of the Dodge Hall for the School of the Arts, the construction of new facilities for the Schools of Law and Business, the renovation of the Butler Library, and the creation of the Philip L. Milstein Family College Library.
The university also continued to expand the Audubon Biotechnology and Research Park, securing Columbia's position at the forefront of medical research. As the only university-related research park in New York City, it also contributes to economic growth by creating private research collaborations and generating new biomedical-related businesses.
A new center for student activity, the Alfred Lerner Hall, opened in 1999 and features the Roone Arledge Auditorium and Cinema. Current construction projects include major renovations to Hamilton Hall and the Avery Library.
These and other improvements to the university's physical structure are a visible reminder of the continued growth and development of Columbia's research and teaching programs. From its renowned core curriculum to the most advanced work currently being done in its graduate and professional schools, the university continues to set the highest standard for knowledge creation and dissemination, both in the United States and around the world.
Columbia is proud to celebrate its 250th anniversary and look to future achievements as it undertakes to carry out such a far-reaching and historic mission and is led by a new President, Lee C. Bollinger.
Campus der Columbia University University
Low memorial library
In 1897 the University moved from Forty-ninth Street and Madison Avenue, where it had stood for forty years, to its current location on Morningside Heights at 116th Street and Broadway. Seth Low, the president of the university at the time of the move, wanted to create an academic village in a more spacious setting. Charles Follen McKim from the architects McKim, Mead and White has modeled the new campus of the Athens Agora. The Columbia Campus contains the largest single collection of McKim, Mead & White buildings in existence.
The architectural heart of the campus is the Low Memorial Library, named after Seth Low's father. It was built in the classic Roman style and appears on the New York City Register of Historic Places. The building now houses the central administration of the university and the visitor center.
A wide staircase leads from the Low Library to a spacious plaza, a popular meeting place for students, and from there to the College Walk, a promenade that divides the central campus. Beyond College Walk is the South Campus, which is home to the Butler Library, the university's main library. The South Campus is also the location of many Columbia College facilities including student dormitories, Alfred Lerner Hall (the student center) and the college's administrative offices and classrooms, as well as the Graduate School of Journalism.
North of the Low Library is Pupin Hall, named a National Historic Landmark in 1966 in recognition of the atomic research carried out there by Columbia's scientists since 1925. To the east is St. Paul's Chapel, which is on the New York City List 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 north of Morningside Heights is the 20 acre campus of Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan's Washington Heights, overlooking the Hudson River. Some of the most iconic buildings on the site include 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, Presbyterian Hospital opened the Milstein Hospital Building, a 745-bed facility that combines the 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, Audubon Business Technology Center, Russ Berrie Medical Science Pavilion and Irving Cancer Research Center, as well as other state-of-the-art scientific and medical research facilities.
In addition to its New York City campus, Columbia has two facilities outside of Manhattan. Founded in 1947, Nevis Laboratories are the most important center in Colombia for the study of experimental high-energy particle and nuclear physics. Nevis is located in Irvington, New York, on 60 acres that originally belonged to Alexander Hamilton's son.
The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory was founded in Palisades, New York, in 1949 and is a leading research institution focusing on global climate change, earthquakes, volcanoes, non-renewable resources and environmental hazards. It examines the planet from its core to its atmosphere, across every continent and every ocean.