In 1754, classes at King's College were first held inside the vestry room of the Trinity Church schoolhouse on lower Broadway. From the schoolhouse, the College moved to its own building in 1760. The three Columbia sites are:
The most frequently consulted resources for questions about campus sites, buildings and features:
Buildings and Grounds Collection
Compiled over the years by University Archives staff, the Building and Grounds Collection contains materials relating to Columbia University’s buildings and grounds on the three sites that have served as the University's main campus as well as other real estate used by the University. It contains floor plans and correspondence related to the construction and maintenance of buildings, as well as information about Columbia University’s grounds: gates, walkways, outdoor sculpture, and landscaping. The collection includes maps, press clippings, images, and administrative reports - all of which are useful if you are trying to trace the history of a particular building or campus feature.
Historical Photograph Collection, Series VII: Buildings and Grounds
Among the largest series in this extensive photograph collection, images include interior and exterior images of buildings and campus features for Columbia’s various homes over the years as well as places associated with Columbia but not located at one of the main campus sites (e.g., Baker Field).
These collections are only available in person at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) reading room. Visitors are required to register their own Special Collections Research Account before their visit and to validate the account in person with government-issued photo identification or Columbia ID card. Once you have created your Special Collections Research Account, you will be able to request the materials directly from the finding aids: click the check box located on the right for the box(es) you need, and then scroll back to the top of the container list document and click “Submit Request” button in the red-rimmed box at top. This should lead you directly to your Special Collections Research Account to complete the request form. For more information on how to access our collections, check out our Research & Access website.
For the Park Place campus building:
For the Madison Avenue campus:
For the Morningside Heights campus:
For additional campus photographs and viewbooks, please visit our Booklets, Guides and Campus Viewbooks website.
To learn about the Morningside campus:
Bergdoll, Barry. Mastering McKim's plan: Columbia's first century on Morningside Heights. New York: Columbia University, Miriam and Ira Wallach Art Gallery, 1997.
Issued in conjunction with two exhibitions held at Columbia University: Mastering McKim's Plan, at the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, and Constructing Low Memorial Library, in the Rotunda of Low Memorial Library, Columbia University, October 1997 to January 1998.
Dolkart, Andrew. Morningside Heights: a history of its architecture & development. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.
The announcement during the final years of the nineteenth century that the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Columbia College, St. Luke's Hospital, Teachers College, and Barnard College would construct new complexes on Morningside Heights heralded the transformation of this geographically isolated area into "the Acropolis of New York."
Robson, John Williams. A guide to Columbia University, with some account of its history and traditions. New York: Columbia University Press, 1937.
The 1937 update to the 1912 An official guide to Columbia University. Prepared as a guide to visitors and prospective students, this booklet includes a history of the University, facts and figures, and a walking tour guide to the campus on Morningside Heights.
The Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Librarians have put together a Columbia University buildings bibliography. These selections include information about the maps, the Morningside campus, Barnard College, the Manhattanville campus, the Medical Center, and the Baker Field Athletics Complex.
In addition to the holdings at the Columbia University Archives, you can find Morningside Heights campus architectural drawings at the Avery Drawings & Archives Collection at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library.
Columbia University architectural drawings, circa 1888-1957
Architectural drawings, surveys, maps, and site proposals, for Columbia's Morningside Heights campus, designed primarily by McKim, Mead & White. Drawings for buildings no longer in existence or never constructed and drawings for later alterations, are included. Architectural drawings of the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum, and surveys of the asylum site prepared for Columbia, 1888-1894. Also included are site plans and proposals, surveys, and maps, circa 1890s-1910s, showing the surrounding area, including such institutions as the Jewish Theological Seminary, St. Luke's Home, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Grant's Tomb, and others. This collection is available for use by qualified readers by appointment in the Department of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University. For further information and to make an appointment, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Columbia University, Department of Facilities Management, architectural drawings, 1895-ongoing
Architectural drawings (no longer in current use by Facilities Management), transferred to the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library from the Department of Facilities Management pertaining to proposals, construction, alteration and addition of properties formerly used or owned, and buildings demolished or still extant. The dates of the materials span 1895 to today. The drawings include plans showing the heating and ventilation systems, electrical and plumbing details, and some original construction materials.
McKim Mead & White architectural records and drawings, 1879-1958
Architectural drawings and photographs of buildings designed by the firm dating approximately from its founding to the 1950s. Among those represented are buildings at the World's Columbian Exhibition, Chicago, 1893; Pennsylvania Railroad Station, New York, 1906-1910; restoration, 1903, of the White House, Washington, D.C.; and the buildings at Columbia University's Morningside Heights campus, New York.
In the archives of the architectural firm of McKim Mead & White are held at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library.