Lonely Planet review for Columbia University
Founded in 1754 as King’s College downtown, the oldest university in New York is now one of the premiere research institutions in the world. It moved to its current location (the site of a former insane asylum) in 1897, where its gated campus now channels a staid, New England vibe and offers plenty in the way of cultural happenings.
The principal point of interest is the main courtyard (located on College Walk at the level of 116th St), which is surrounded by various Italian Renaissance–style structures. Here, you’ll find the statue of the open-armed Alma Mater seated before the Low Memorial Library. On the south end of College Walk, on the corner of Amsterdam Ave, is Hamilton Hall, a key site during the infamous student uprising of 1968.
There are other newer buildings by architects of note. Your best bet for navigating the grounds is to download the self-guided audio tour by architectural historian Andrew Dolkart from the Columbia University website (www.columbia.edu/content/self-guided-walking-tour.html).