Columbia's Campus has moved around Manhattan several times since the College founding date in 1752. At first on lower Manhattan, then in midtown, and now way up at Morningside Heights, the College has reflected the city's growth in its location. Some Columbia fans like to look forward to the day when the University will have the option of taking another step around town this time to Rockefeller Center. For Columbia owns the land on which the great Rockefeller buildings stand, and on the expiration, sometime around 2030, of the 99-year-old lease that gives Rockefeller the land, Columbia will regain both the property and the buildings upon it. Right now the college plant is still spread around town--the athletic facilities, for instance--being nearly five miles from the main campus.
New York City isn't much of a college town. Real estate is high and like everything else in the city, college buildings grow up. Only in New York probably, does a college dormitory look like an office building.
Of the several institutions of higher learning in New York, Columbia is probably the most collegiate. The College, heart of the University, sits on a hill in the northern sector of Manhattan called Morningside Heights. A good residential community surrounds the college area. It complements the college, and the college compliments it, to form a pleasantly genteeel neighborhood. In this respect the Columbia undergraduate has an advantage over other young scholars in the city. But it is city nonetheless and Columbia in the last decades has never had the sense of community possessed by other members of the Ivy League.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, shortly after he became president of Columbia, declared that he wanted to build up a spirit among the students so strong that they would remain nostalgic about college long after graduation. It is doubtful whether anything every became of the Eisenhower wish. Apparently greenery, some fine old buildings, and a sense of community are necessary to create that mood which never lets some men hang up their reacoon coats.
As many of the University offshoots as possible are located in the Morningside Heights area but some of the schools are pretty well orphaned. The School of Pharmacy, for instance, is located 80 or so city blocks south of the main campus. Its students are completely cut off from college life.
Commuters Not a Part
Similarly, the commuters often feel that they aren't sufficiently "part" of Columbia, and Columbia's student body includes a good many commuters. It draws many of the competent young men of the city who for one reason of another can't go away to school.
It is mostly a matter of size and to some extent probably a matter of local culture, but a Columbia student tried a certain stunt once as an experiment, first in his own New York, and then again in Cambridge, where he was visiting on the occasion of a football weekend. He attracted considerably more attention in the Boston area, where newspaper readers, for instance, still seem to get a big kick out of a funny college tale. In New York, a prank must be of unusual brilliance to achieve recognition.
Barnard and Dating
Women are available to Columbia men in all sorts. The kind with which the Columbia men are most likely to have something in common are the Barnard women. Barnard is a sort of a distant Radcliffe to Columbia. That is, Barnard is a subsidiary of Columbia University, but as yet the women have shown no signs of violating the male sanctity of Columbia College.
The Columbia student usually confines his dating activities to the city unless he has a car. If devoid of car, he can hop an excursion boat up the Hudson and thus spend a pleasant afternoon. Making merry in the city itself usually costs, as does student life in general in the city.