Fun Facts About Columbia University

December 9, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Fun Facts About Columbia University

Columbia University at a glance

Looking into Columbia University can help people understand why more students choose to study there. 1754 marked the beginning of Columbia University, a private educational establishment. It is considered one of the many fun facts about Columbia University, which is found in New York City and is home to several graduate and professional schools in addition to its three undergraduate schools.

These schools are Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of General Studies. The Business School, Law School, and College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia are all highly ranked. Additionally, the university is home to a graduate Journalism School and a College of Dental Medicine that is highly regarded.

Columbia University Butler Library at night

The primary campus of Columbia University can be found in New York City, New York, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. More specifically, people can find it in the Morningside Heights neighborhood. The medical, nursing, dental, and public health schools of Columbia University are all housed within the Columbia University Medical Center, which you can find in the Washington Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan.

There are a variety of student activities available at Columbia, including 28 different Greek chapters. Over ninety percent of students call the campus their permanent home. Barnard College for Women, the Union Theological Seminary, and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America are all part of Columbia University’s network of educational institutions. Alumni with distinguished careers include John Jay, a founding father and the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Barack Obama, a former President of the United States. Columbia University also manages the Pulitzer Prizes.

Columbia University in numbers

The statistics behind Columbia University speak for themselves. Columbia University is a member of the Ivy League and has an acceptance rate of 5.3%. It is located in New York City. It is located in an urban environment, has a total undergraduate enrollment of 8,148 students (for the fall of 2020), and its campus spans 36 acres.

In the 2018–2019 admissions cycle, Columbia University had a rate of acceptance of 5.3% of applicants. One of the fun facts about Columbia University is that for every hundred students who applied, only five were admitted, making the admissions process extremely competitive.


Front view of Columbia University with plenty of students in the building's staircase

The optional essay portion of the SAT is not required to be taken to gain admission to Columbia University. If you take the SAT more than once, Columbia will “super score” your exams, meaning they will consider the highest score you earned for each test section. The university does not mandate that you take SAT Subject Tests before enrolling, but if you do so voluntarily, they will consider them.

Scores from both the SAT and ACT are required for admission, and both of these exams are common. 51% of students entering universities in the 2017–2018 academic year opted to submit their scores from the ACT, while 59% of students opted to submit their scores from the SAT.

Even though admitted students’ average grade point average at Columbia University is not made public, you can rest assured that most students had grades in the A range. Over ninety-five percent of admitted students who provided data in 2019 indicated that they ranked in the top ten percent of their high school graduating class.

Facts about Columbia University

On the site of an old mental hospital sits Columbia University.

One of the not fun facts about Columbia University is that the site used to be a mental hospital. The current campus of Columbia University is situated on what was formerly known as the Bloomingdale Asylum; a public hospital requested to be established by the medical staff at King’s College, which was Columbia University pre-Revolutionary War.

Additional information about Columbia University shows that the pastoral institution encompassed a total area of 26 acres, including the current location of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. In 1897, Columbia University relocated to its current location, which featured a campus designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White.

front building of Columbia University with female statue at the very center

Only Buell Hall, one of the original structures that made up the Bloomingdale Asylum, is still standing. It was originally located across the campus but was relocated to its current location after being constructed in an elevated architectural style to house wealthy gentlemen suffering from mental illness. One can find the French Institute, or Maison Francaise, of Columbia University there.

The ground beneath Columbia is riddled with a web of tunnels and caverns.

One of the fun facts about Columbia University is the intricate network of tunnels connecting many of the school’s buildings. It is now widely known to be one of the worst-kept secrets in the university. The tunnels were constructed when Bloomingdale’s Insane Asylum was in operation.

Even though the tunnels are still in use today, access to them is increasingly restricted by the university due to unauthorized tunnel explorers and other hazards. Many of these hazards are remnants of the Manhattan Project, another famous past use of the tunnels.

Rockefeller Center was never built on land that Columbia University previously occupied.

When Columbia University was still known as King’s College, its first location was in the vestry hall of Trinity Church. Later, the school relocated to a campus close to where City Hall is today. Between 1847 and 1897, the campus was situated in the Midtown area between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue at 49th and 50th Streets. There is a widespread misunderstanding that the Midtown campus of Columbia University eventually became a part of Rockefeller Center; however, this was a separate parcel of land that was referred to as the “Upper Estate.”

Although Columbia University seriously considered relocating its campus there, the Rockefeller family purchased the land, and the money from the sale was used to establish the university’s endowment. However, “the townhouse that first housed Barnard College may have been located in the corner of the future site of Rockefeller Center,” as the saying goes.

There is a mantel at Columbia University that Edgar Allan Poe used to write The Raven.

To all of the bookworms, one of the fun facts about Columbia University is about the famous writer Edgar Allan Poe. He wrote “The Raven” in front of the Raven Mantel, which can now be found in the Butler Library at Columbia University.

The Raven Mantel originally resided in Poe’s room at the Brennan farmhouse. It made a cameo in the poem, and Poe may have even etched his initials. This led to its preservation when the farmhouse was demolished.

The pool at the Teacher’s College is the oldest in New York City.

The pool was constructed in 1904, making it one of the oldest in the country and the oldest pool still in use in New York City. The Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Building, which houses the nation’s largest gymnasium specifically for female athletes, also houses a swimming pool constructed during its construction. Since its original construction at the turn of the twentieth century, the pool, which is now a part of the Teachers College of Columbia University, has undergone very few changes. It was designed to resemble Roman baths.

Havemeyer Hall at Columbia University is the site of the college lecture hall that has been filmed the most.

According to Scouting NY and several other university websites, one of the fun facts about Columbia University is that one of the classrooms is a frequent movie fixture. This is classroom 309 in Havemeyer Hall at Columbia University.

It is believed to be the college classroom that has been filmed the most. That’s right—309 Havemeyer has reportedly appeared in more than a dozen different movies, some of the more notable ones being the first three Spider-Man movies, Kinsey, and Malcolm X by Spike Lee.

An important Revolutionary War engagement took place on the grounds of Columbia University.

The American Revolutionary War reached a pivotal point in terms of morale in September 1776, when the Battle of Harlem Heights took place. This was particularly significant after the Americans suffered losses in the Battle of Long Island and at Kips Bay. The Americans and the Britons fought at the intersection now known as 106th Street and Broadway. The conflict continued further north, all the way up to 125th Street.

Most of the conflict occurred in the vicinity of 120th Street and Riverside Drive; however, the Americans successfully drove the British forces back to 106th Street. About this maneuver, George Washington observed that “This little advantage has inspired our troops prodigiously.”

View of students walking in the school campus.

They have discovered that all it takes to convince an adversary to give way is determination and capable officers. The historical conflict is commemorated with a plaque on the Columbia University Math Building, which is located close to 118th Street and Broadway.

The Human Resources Building at Columbia University was formerly the Studebaker Car Factory.

As one of the fun facts about Columbia University, the “Studebaker” building at Columbia University is a building that was once an automobile factory. The only giveaway is a small logo on the building’s facade. The Studebaker automobile company constructed this structure in 1923. Initially, it was used as a finishing factory and distribution center for the luxurious automobiles that made Studebaker a household name. There are a lot of people that highly seek these automobiles as they are expensive. During the height of production, the factory would have been teeming with dealers and mechanics in training. This also includes the vehicles and parts related to those vehicles.

A sculpture that was lost at Columbia University has been found in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Many people believed that the sphere centrally located on the Columbia campus had been destroyed; however, in 2001, the sundial was discovered in a field in Ann Arbor that may or may not have belonged to an individual with university affiliations. This discovery came almost 60 years after the sphere had been presumed to have been destroyed.

The history of the current sundial is not nearly as illustrious, and its sculptor is unknown. As one of the fun facts about Columbia University, the original sundial is still a little mysterious, and the sundial’s base still stands on campus. It is engraved with the words “Horam Expecta Veniet,” which translates to “await this hour, time will come.”

Research for the Manhattan Project has been carried out at Columbia University.

The Manhattan Project, which resulted in the development of the atomic bomb, was carried out at Columbia University in Schermerhorn Hall and Pupin Hall (shown), which are located on Broadway and 120th Street, respectively.

A cyclotron, also known as a particle accelerator, was located in the basement. In 1939, scientists from Columbia University attempted to reproduce an experiment conducted in Germany that demonstrated the possibility of nuclear fission. Additionally, the origin of FM radio can be traced back to Pupin.

In addition, a nuclear testing facility operated within Prentis Hall at Columbia University’s Manhattanville Campus. The Prentis building was originally a milk bottling plant and a pasteurization facility that belonged to Sheffield Farms.

It was constructed in 1909. This laboratory, which was established at Columbia and was known as the Heat Transfer Research Facility, was one of the first national labs ever established. Beginning in the 1950s, scientists and engineers used the laboratory to test “generations of nuclear reactor fuel assemblies.” In 2004, the company was out of business.

Now that you have an idea about Columbia University, your college admissions to that university should be next on your mind. To ensure that you get into Columbia, you can get help with AdmissionSight. With ten years of experience with college admission experts, Admissionsight can help you get into Harvard University. You can talk to our experts today to get an initial consultation.

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