Posts Tagged ‘Columbia University’

The Battle of Harlem Heights

May 25, 2008

It’s Memorial Day weekend, a good time to look back on a small yet crucial battle that took place just west of the Columbia University campus. On September 16, 1776, fighting broke out between the Continental Army and British troops at 106th Street and Broadway. The battle pushed northward, with most of the fighting happening around 120th Street. This plaque, at 117th and Broadway, commemorates it.

Not everyone agrees that the U.S. won. But the battle did force the British to retreat from upper Manhattan, and this invigorated the Continental Army’s morale after decisive defeats in Brooklyn and at Kip’s Bay.

Columbia University’s lunatic past

May 5, 2008

They didn’t used to call Morningside Heights “Asylum Hill” for nothing. Before Columbia built its campus on Broadway and 116th Street, the grounds were occupied by the Bloomingdale Lunatic Asylum. Buell Hall, below, is the only campus building that was originally part of the asylum.

Opened in 1808, the asylum was named for Bloomingdale Road, the old name for this stretch of Broadway. Until the late 1800s, the neighborhood was bucolic and sylvan, and through the years the asylum became somewhat of a tourist attraction. In 1893, it relocated to Westchester, and Columbia, then on Madison Avenue in the 50s, took over, building the campus as we know it today.

Look closely; I love the family of deer hanging out on the asylum grounds.