Columbia University Archives

Buildings and grounds collection, 1755-2011, bulk 1880-2000

Summary Information


This collection includes floor plans, maps, correspondence, reports and press clippings pertaining to Columbia University campuses and buildings. The bulk of the collection is divided by building name; general maps, reports and correspondence relating to the Morningside Heights campus are filed separately.

At a Glance

Call No.: UA#0125
Bib ID 7201471 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Columbia University. Archives
Title Buildings and grounds collection, 1755-2011, bulk 1880-2000
Physical Description 15.85 linear feet (38 document boxes)
Language(s) English .
Access You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection has no restrictions.

This collection is located on-site.



This collection is arranged in four series.



This collection contains materials relating to Columbia University's buildings and grounds on its three main campuses (Park Place, 49th Street & Madison Avenue and Morningside Heights) as well as other real estate used by the University, such as the Medical Center at 168th Street, Lamont-Doherty, and Baker Field in upper Manhattan. It contains floor plans and correspondence relating to the construction and maintenance of buildings. It also contains information about Columbia University's grounds: gates, walkways, outdoor sculpture, and landscaping. The collection includes maps, press clippings, photographs, and administrative reports. The bulk of the materials consist of specific files of information for buildings on the Morningside Heights campus.

  • Series I: Park Place Campus

    The series includes press clippings, maps, floor plans, pamphlets, correspondence, press releases and drawings/sketches relating to Columbia's first campus location in downtown New York City at Park Place. The Park Place campus is sometimes referred to as the Lower Estate or The Queen's Farm.

  • Series II: Madison Avenue Campus

    Columbia's second campus, located at 49th Street and Madison Avenue, is documented by press clippings, maps and publications.

  • Series III: Morningside Heights Campus

    This series contains information concerning Columbia's third (and current) campus located in Morningside Heights and is divided into four sub-series.

  • Series IV: Other Real Estate

    Series V contains press clippings, pamphlets, brochures, press releases, maps, correspondence, and floor plans relating to properties (past and present) held by Columbia University but not located at the Park Place, Madison Avenue or Morningside Heights campuses. Properties included in this series include the Medical School complex in Washington Heights, Baker Field, Arden House, Nevis Laboratories, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Campus, and Rockefeller Center. This series also includes files regarding general facilities topics such as rent, energy, recycling, and facilities management.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection has no restrictions.

This collection is located on-site.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Buildings and grounds collection; Box and Folder; University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


Additions are expected.

Ownership and Custodial History

A series of binders relating to buildings and grounds for the Morningside Heights campus were transferred from the Slavic Department in February 2000. These binders were compiled by Daniel Feuchtwanger, a Plan Inventory Assistant in Project Management in Facilities Operations from 1982 to 1989, who organized a series of inventories of Avery and Facilities holdings pertaining to Buildings and Grounds. Feuchtwanger worked as an administrative assistant in the Slavic Department from 1990 to 1996 and his records remained there until their transferal to University Archives in 2000.

Other materials found in this collection were collected and organized over time as ready reference files by the University Archives.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed by Darragh Martin (GSAS 2011) in July 2007.

Addition to the papers processed by Shelley Hayreh (BC 2008) in July 2008.

Finding aid written by Darragh Martin in July 2007.

Additions to the finding aid written by Jocelyn Wilk in July 2008.

Revision Description

2009-10-06 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Clippings (Information Artifacts) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ephemera (general object genre) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Press releases Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Auditoriums Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Building sites -- Planning Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Classrooms Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College buildings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- Architecture Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- Buildings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- Designs and plans -- Buildings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- Dormitories Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- Student housing Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. Department of Buildings and Grounds Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. Division of Facilities Management Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. East Campus Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. Rutherfurd Observatory Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Elgin Botanic Garden Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
King's College (New York, N.Y.) -- Buildings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Library architecture Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Library buildings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Low Memorial Library Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Low, Seth, 1850-1916 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
McKim, Mead & White Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Rockefeller Center Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
School buildings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
School lands Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
School sites Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Classes were first held at King's College (now Columbia University) in 1754 inside the vestry room of the Trinity Church schoolhouse on lower Broadway. This room housed classes until 1760 when the school moved to a building on Park Place in downtown Manhattan, near the present site of City Hall. Founded by royal charter of King George II of England, King's College was the only institution of collegiate rank in New York at the time. Classes were suspended during the American Revolution in 1776 and the building was used as a barrack and hospital for both British and American troops. When instruction resumed eight years later, King's College changed its name to Columbia, in keeping with the contemporary political climate.

Classes continued in the Park Place campus until 1857, when, to accommodate its continuing expansion, the campus moved to 49th Street and Madison Avenue, occupying a tract of land previously owned by The New York Deaf and Dumb Institution. Surrounded by vacant lots and underdeveloped land, this campus was virtually rural. This location was favored to the alternative: relocating to the remote Botanic Gardens, three miles outside of New York. The forty years at this Madison Avenue campus saw the foundation of the School of Mines and School of Political Science and the inclusion of the College of Physicians and Surgeons as part of Columbia. In 1897, Columbia left the Madison Avenue campus; the following year the Berkeley School bought the land and destroyed most of the buildings.

The University made a third move in 1897, occupying four blocks in the area now known as Morningside Heights, between 116th and 120th Streets and Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway (then known as The Boulevard). This land belonged to the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum, which was owned by the New York City Hospital. Under the leadership of President Seth Low, the architecture firm of McKim, Mead & White was commissioned to design an urban academic village on this site and the asylum's land was forever transformed with the domed Low Memorial Library overlooking a stately collection of Renaissance influenced buildings. The initial phase of construction between 1895 and 1897 saw the erection of Low Library, Schermerhorn Hall, Fayerweather Hall, and University Hall (later demolished).

The expansion of the Morningside Heights campus continued steadily throughout the twentieth century with St. Paul's Chapel, the School of Mines (now Lewisohn Hall) and Hamilton Hall, all constructed between 1903 and 1907. Kent Hall, Philosophy Hall and Avery Hall were constructed between 1909 and 1911; the early 1920s saw the completion of Dodge Hall, John Jay Hall and Pupin Hall. Expansion continued throughout the ensuing decades, with the School of International Affairs completed in 1970 and a large East Campus Housing project developed between 1977 and 1981. The most recent major addition to Morningside Heights' campus is Alfred Lerner Hall, a modern glass structure that replaced Ferris Booth Hall as the student center in 2000.

The University began expansion plans in 2004 in the Manhattanville area, also named "West Harlem" bordered by 129th to 133rd Streets and between Broadway and 12th Avenue. The proposed construction is expected to provide a total of 6.8 million square feet of space above- and below-grade for teaching, academic research, and civic and commercial activity, as well as below-grade parking and facilities support. This is a multi-phased project with completion expected in 2030.