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   Columbia and the City

The Columbia campus is located in Morningside Heights, a lively and pleasant neighborhood on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Bordered by Riverside Park and the Hudson River to the west and Morningside Park to the east, the Heights is home to many outstanding educational institutions: Columbia University, Barnard College, Teachers College, Bank Street College of Education, the Manhattan School of Music, and Union and Jewish Theological Seminaries. The neighborhood offers good shopping, college-style nightlife, and a concentration of excellent and inexpensive restaurants. New York’s museums, concert halls, and midtown area are easily and quickly reached by public transportation.

Columbia is an integral part of New York City, and contact with the life of New York is in itself part of the educational experience at Columbia.  The city offers an astonishing variety of cultural activity, much of it free or well within a student’s budget. The city boasts over 150 museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, the Brooklyn Museum, the Frick, the Asia Society, the Cooper-Hewitt, and the Museum of Natural History. Columbia students are admitted free to the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney. Contemporary art and photography can be found on display in the hundreds of galleries around town. Music is everywhere in New York, from classical and opera at Lincoln Center to jazz at the Blue Note to alternative rock at the legendary CBGB’s. Nearly every major musical act makes New York part of its tour.

New York is also, of course, the center of theater in the United States, from Broadway to off-Broadway to small repertory theaters. Students are often able to get discount tickets for performances. And the city has dozens of movie theaters, where you can see anything from European art films to the latest action flick. In fact, many movies are filmed in New York; some, such as Hannah and Her Sisters, have been made in part on the Columbia campus. Parts of Awakenings, Ghostbusters, Malcolm X, and Mona Lisa Smile  were filmed right here in Havemeyer Hall, in the lecture hall where we teach general chemistry.

For the sports enthusiast, we have the Mets and the Yankees, the Jets and the Giants, the Knicks and the Rangers, and the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament each fall. Columbia College’s football team plays at Baker Field uptown. Both on campus and throughout the city, you’ll find people playing everything from basketball to street hockey to cricket.

Serious eating is also part of the city’s culture, and although partisans may argue that one can get a better meal in Rome or Paris, no one denies that New York offers the widest selection of the world’s food. The city is a large delicatessen, with sections for each of the world’s major and minor cuisines. It is not always cheap— you can drop $200 for lunch at Alain Ducasse—but for $10 you can dine superbly in Chinatown or be fed to exhaustion in Little Italy. Neighborhood favorites include Tom’s Restaurant, made famous by its appearances on TV’s Seinfeld.

New Yorkers might live in a bustling metropolis, but they have easy access to the delights of the country. Skiing, sailing, and beaches are all less than an hour away, and the metropolitan area offers beautiful scenery year-round. Even in the heart of Manhattan’s urban bustle there is an area of natural calm and beauty, Central Park. The Park offers 840 acres of tree-lined paths, meadows, gardens, and a lake. There are skating rinks, a zoo, summer concerts, and the annual (and free) "Shakespeare in the Park" Festival. The Park is the most popular spot in the city for jogging, bicycling, rollerblading, and simply strolling.

When our students are asked what they like best about Columbia, they often reply, "New York!" They come to the University from all over the world, but by the time they leave they call themselves New Yorkers, with pleasure and pride.