What remains of downtown’s “College Place”

On the side of a red brick walkup on West Broadway and Warren Streets is a gem of an old New York street sign: College Place.

It’s two stories up, visible from the street as well as the elevated train that ran up and down this stretch of West Broadway from 1878 to the 1930s.

What was College Place? This part of Lower Manhattan was the first home of King’s College, chartered in 1754 and renamed Columbia College after the Revolutionary War.

College Place became the name of the southern end of what was then known as Chapel Street in 1830; eventually Chapel Street merged with another road called Laurens Street to become today’s West Broadway in 1896.

Columbia relocated to the eventual site of Rockefeller Plaza in 1857; by the turn of the century, what was now called Columbia University occupied its present-day campus on Broadway in Morningside Heights.

The little street sign hiding in plain sight above a dry cleaners isn’t the only remnant of Columbia’s colonial-era downtown days.

A 1918 subway tile in the nearby Chambers Street Station, hard to see thanks to grime and soot, depicts the school’s first building.

[Third image: 1835 David Burr Map of New York City]

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2 Responses to “What remains of downtown’s “College Place””

  1. Tom B Says:

    Amazing history of this corner. I like the old subway tile pictures.

  2. David H Lippman Says:

    The subway mosaic I knew about but did not know what it was about. The street sign I have to look for. That style was very common until the creation of the iconic steel sign. British cities (including Hong Kong) still use the sign on the building.

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