If you’ve never been to the campus of Columbia University, it is definitely worth a visit.Visitors are welcome to tour the campus grounds, using self-guided tour materials offered on the university’s website here. Columbia University has a long history, at least by American terms – it was founded by royal charter from King George the II in 1754, when New York was still an English colony. First known as King’s College, the university’s name was changed to Columbia after the American Revolution.
Columbia University moved to its current location in the Manhattan neighborhood of Morningside Heights in 1897, and the buildings you will see on a walking tour have all been built since that time. One of the first buildings you will see as you enter campus is this one, the Low Library. Low Library is the oldest building on campus and now serves as the university administration’s headquarters. It’s also home to the Visitor Center, and you can pick up a map for your journey. (This is also one of only two buildings open to the public – other campus buildings require a university ID card for entry.)
In front of Low Library is this statue, titled Alma Mater. The sculpture was created by artist Daniel Chester French, known best for his larger-than-life statue of President Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.
Another early building constructed on the new campus was Earl Hall, which from the first has housed diverse religious groups. From the tour materials, I learned that the building also contains the offices of community services organizations.
Of course there are numerous academic buildings to see, but some of my favorite discoveries were public art. There was this statue by George Grey Barnard titled The Great God Pan.
In contrast, there was also this modern bronze sculpture, Reclining Figure, by Henry Moore.
A short distance away is Scholars Lion, by Greg Wyatt.
Scholars Lion is a real contrast with another nearby sculpture, Clement Meadmore’s The Curl.
As I continued walking, I found this statue titled Le Marteleur (not mentioned in the Visitor’s Guide), as well as a bronze casting of Auguste Rodin’s Le Penseur.
Even smaller ornaments such as urns, light posts, and fountains – some simple, others ornate – are beautiful.
Finally, a couple of photos of other distinctive campus buildings: St. Paul’s Chapel, which appeared to be undergoing some restoration, and Butler Library, the center of the university’s library system since the 1930s.
It is easy to get to Columbia University by public transportation. Take the 1 train to the 116th Street station. The station is located next to the university’s entrance.