One of the most esteemed institutes of higher learning in the United States, Columbia was established in 1754 as King’s College. Today, the Ivy League university continues to be celebrated for its academic reputation and striking architecture. And if the campus looks familiar, you may have seen it in a Hollywood blockbuster or two.The Basics
Located amid the skyscrapers and bustle of Manhattan, Columbia University is home to a surprisingly sheltered and classic college campus complete with green quads and eye-catching architecture, including several National Historic Landmarks. Highlights include Low Memorial Library (recognizable by its neoclassical dome), Butler Library (inscribed with the names of luminaries such as Aristotle and Shakespeare), and Pupin Hall (associated with the Manhattan Project). And be sure to look out for filming locations—the campus has appeared in dozens of movies, from Ghostbusters to Spider-Man.
Wander around campus on your own, or go with a guide for additional insight. Columbia is featured on numerous New York City tours, from Harlem and Upper West Side neighborhood excursions to bike jaunts and architecture-themed itineraries.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Thanks to ramps and elevators, the bulk of Columbia’s campus is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
- The visitors center is located in Low Memorial Library.
- Daniel Chester French’s Alma Mater statue—located on the steps of Low Library—is an important symbol of the university; for good luck, see if you can find the owl hidden in her robes.
How to Get There
Take subway line 1 to 116th and Broadway station. Columbia is also served by numerous bus lines (including the M60, which connects the university to LaGuardia Airport).
When to Get There
Columbia’s campus is free and open to visitors throughout the year, though entry to student buildings is generally prohibited unless you’re on a tour. In early winter, don’t miss the university’s festive tree lighting ceremony on College Walk.
Following your campus tour, take the opportunity to explore a few other highlights in the surrounding neighborhood of Morningside Heights. Visit the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, one of the world’s largest Anglican churches; take a walk in scenic Morningside Park or Riverside Park; grab a bite at Tom’s Diner, of Seinfeld fame. Or, head to nearby Harlem to see the Apollo Theater and other neighborhood attractions.