Founded in 1831, New York University (NYU), where Woody Allen studied communication and film, is one of the largest private non-profit institutions of higher education in America. The non-sectarian American research university counts among its alumni 36 Nobel Prize winners, 3 Abel Prize winners, 10 National Medal of Science recipients, 16 Pulitzer Prize winners and 30 Academy Award winners.
The main campus of the university is located in the Greenwich Village neighbourhood of Lower Manhattan. It is organised into 18 schools, colleges and institutes, located in six centres throughout Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn, as well as more than a dozen other sites across the world, with plans for further expansion. According to the Institute of International Education, NYU sends more students to study abroad than any other US college or university, and the College Board (a not-for-profit membership association in the United States composed of more than 5,900 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organisations) reports more online searches by international students for “NYU” than for any other university.
A three-day-long “literary and scientific convention” held in the City Hall in 1830 and attended by over 100 delegates debated the terms of a plan for a new university. These New Yorkers believed the city needed a university designed for young men who would be admitted basing on merit, not birthright, status or social class.
On April 18, 1831 an institution was established, with the support of a group of prominent New York City residents from the city’s landed class of merchants, bankers and traders. On April 21, 1831 the new institution received its charter and was incorporated as the University of the City of New York by the New York State Legislature; older documents often refer to it by that name. The university has been popularly known as New York University since its beginning and was officially renamed that way in 1896. In 1832, NYU held its first classes in rented rooms of the four-storey Clinton Hall, situated near City Hall. In 1835, the School of Law, NYU’s first professional school, was established. Whereas NYU had its Washington Square campus since its founding, the university purchased a campus at University Heights in the Bronx because of overcrowding on the old campus. The University Heights campus was far more spacious than its predecessor. In the late 1960s and early 1970s financial crisis gripped the New York City government and the troubles spread to the city’s institutions, including NYU. Feeling the pressures of imminent bankruptcy, NYU President James McNaughton Hester negotiated the sale of the University Heights campus to the City University of New York, which occurred in 1973. After the sale of the Bronx campus, University College merged with Washington Square College.
The university logo, the upheld torch, is derived from the Statue of Liberty, signifying NYU’s service to the city of New York. The torch is depicted on both the NYU seal and the more abstract NYU logo, designed in 1965 by renowned graphic designer, Tom Geismar.
Washington Square and Greenwich Village have been hubs of cultural life in New York City since the early 19th century. Much of this culture has intersected with NYU at various points in its history. Artists and intellectuals, including Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Herman Melville and Walt Whitman, have contributed to the artistic scene encompassing NYU.
As a result, the aforementioned figures had notable interaction with the cultural and academic life of the university. By the 1920s, Washington Square Park was nationally recognised as a focal point for artistic and moral rebellion. As such, the Washington Square campus became more diverse and bustled with urban energy, contributing to academic change at NYU. In the 1960s the area became one of the centres of the beat and folk generation, when Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan settled here. In 1975, the university opened The Grey Art Gallery at 100 Washington Square East, housing the New York University art collection and featuring museum quality exhibitions.
The core of NYU consists of buildings that surround Washington Square Park. With approximately 12,500 residents, NYU has the seventh-largest university housing system in the US as of 2007, and one of the largest among private schools.
Most of NYU’s buildings are located across a roughly 229-acre (930,000 m2) area bounded by Houston Street to the south, Broadway to the east, 14th Street to the north, and Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) to the west. Since the late 1970s, the central part of NYU has been its Washington Square campus in the heart of Greenwich Village. The Washington Square Arch is an unofficial symbol of NYU. Until 2007, NYU had held its commencement ceremonies in Washington Square Park, but moved the ceremonies to Yankee Stadium in 2008 because of renovations to Washington Square. In the 1990s, NYU built a second community around Union Square, in close proximity to Washington Square. NYU’s Union Square community primarily consists of the priority residence halls of Carlyle Court, Palladium Residence Hall, Alumni Hall, Coral Tower, Thirteenth Street Hall, University Hall, Third North Residence Hall and Founders Hall.
The Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, built between 1967 and 1972, is the largest library at NYU and one of the largest academic libraries in the United States. The library is visited by more than 6800 users each day, and circulates more than one million books annually.
The Bobst Library offers one Multidisciplinary Reference Center, a Research Commons, 45 kilometres of open-stacks shelving, and approximately 2,000 seats for student study. The 12-storey, 39,500-square-metre structure sits on the southern edge of Washington Square Park (at 70 Washington Square South) and is the flagship of an eight-library, 4,5-million-volume system. Bobst’s Avery Fisher Center for Music and Media is one of the world’s largest academic media centres, where students and researchers use more than 95,000 audio and video recordings per year. The Digital Studio offers a constantly evolving, leading-edge resource for faculty and student projects and promotes and supports access to digital resources for teaching, learning, research and arts events. the Bobst Library is also home to significant special collections.
With approximately 12,500 residents, NYU has the seventh-largest university housing system in the US as of 2007, and one of the largest among private schools. NYU’s undergraduate housing system consists of 21 buildings. Uniquely, many of NYU’s residence halls are converted apartment complexes or old hotels.
In general, NYU residence halls receive favourable ratings, and some are opulent. Many rooms are spacious and contain amenities considered rare for individual college residence hall rooms, such as kitchens, lavatories, living rooms and common areas.