New York University, University Heights Campus, photo 1904. Via Wikimedia Commons. Photo by Detroit Publishing Co.
With fall and the back to school season in full swing, Untapped Cites is uncovering the hidden and little known past uses of some of New York City’s colleges. Today we look at Bronx Community College, the first community college to be declared a National Historic Landmark, which is located in the former University Heights campus of New York University. Its Beaux-Arts buildings, which include the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, were designed by the celebrated architect Stanford White of McKim, Mead, and White.
In the early 1890s NYU purchased the Mali Estate, a 40-acre site in the Bronx on a bluff overlooking the Harlem River. At the time, much of the neighborhood around NYU’s buildings in Greenwich Village consisted of crowded tenements and factories. The new site enabled NYU to create a campus of monumental buildings and open lawns with fresh air and river views.
New York University, circa 1900-1910. Via Library of Congress Prints and Photograph Division. Photo by Detroit Publishing Co.
Emphasizing the site’s hilltop location, NYU’s new campus was called University Heights, a name that was also applied to the surrounding neighborhood.
“New York University, New York City” circa 1904. Image via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Photo by Detroit Publishing Co.
Stanford White‘s master plan for the University Heights campus included several buildings arranged around a quadrangle. Designed in a Beaux-Arts style described as “American Renaissance,” they were completed between 1894 and 1912. The centerpiece of the plan was Gould Memorial Library, which features a dome that has become an iconic symbol of the campus.
Butler Hall, former Mali Mansion, built about 1859
In addition to White’s new buildings, NYU adaptively reused existing structures on the property including the Mali Mansion, which was converted into Charles Butler Hall. Butler Hall initially served as a dormitory until larger facilities were built.
1901 Image via NY Public Library Digital Collections. Art and Picture Collection.
Hall of Fame for Great Americans
A few years after the campus opened, NYU established a new institution called the Hall of Fame for Great Americans. Stanford White designed a colonnaded-terrace encircling the rear of the Gould Memorial Library in which busts of famous Americans were placed. Once a popular tourist attraction, the Hall of Fame is largely forgotten but is still located on the site.
Gould Memorial Library (1900), no longer a library, now offices
Hall of Languages, first Stanford White building completed at University Heights (1894)
Gould Residence Hall (1896), now classrooms and offices
Hall of Philosophy (1912), the campus’ final Stanford White-designed building
University Heights in effect became the main campus of NYU, housing the undergraduate programs. However, NYU retained its Greenwich Village buildings for graduate programs, which would prove decisive to the later history of the University Heights campus.
One of the Later Additions, Modernist Style: Meister Hall, Marcel Breuer & Associates (1967). Image via Flickr Creative Commons. Photo by yusunkwon
Subsequent to the construction of White’s buildings, NYU’s University Heights campus continued to grow during the next several decades. Later NYU buildings, designed in a variety of architectural styles, are not part of the National Historic Landmark designation.
In the early 1970s, NYU, which was in financial distress, decided to leave University Heights and retrench in the Village. NYU sold the campus to the state Dormitory Authority, which enabled Bronx Community College to move there in 1973.
University Heights Campus Newest Building, A Contextual Design: North Hall and Library, Robert A.M. Stern Architects (2012) facing Stanford White’s Quad
Bronx Community College up until then lacked a cohesive campus and had been spread across eight buildings in the nearby Fordham Heights neighborhood. Thanks to NYU’s move, Bronx Community College inherited an architectural masterpiece.
Next, read about NYU’s Vanderbilt Hall, built in 1951, which portended the university’s renewed focus on expanding around Washington Square.
New York City has a handful of observation decks, and a plethora of rooftop bars, but many New Yorkers are unfamiliar with the handful of buildings and structures that can be climbed to experience unique views of the City. These historic vantage points have become fewer and fewer as security and privatization have trumped public access. Despite their limited access, sometimes only once a year at most, it is well worth planning ahead to take in these historic vistas.
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Photo by Bobby Das via Flickr
It’s day one of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, held at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. For urban explorers, the park has long held a special lore, with its layered history and abandoned structures. As you’ll see in this collection of secrets, its past and proposed future continue to reflect the push and pull of New York City development and most spectacularly its hidden spots may reveal themselves in centuries to come, or never again.
The (temporary) closing of Prosperity Dumpling on Eldridge street has thrown the world of bottom dollar dining into chaos. On the one hand, the aerial photograph of workers making those tasty dumplings in a Chinatown alley aside rats and trash is pretty gross. On the other hand, there is the lurching thought: “Where else can we get 50 frozen dumplings for $9 or 4 perfectly fried/steamed dumplings for $1???” We don’t want to know what goes on in a dollar dumpling kitchen, so we’ve never asked. And so here we are.
But have no fear. You may recall that in previous years, we sent intrepid columnist Luke Kingma to Chinatown several times a week for his column Sunday in Chinatown. He’s provided us here with a guide to 7 alternative dollar dumplings to tide you over until Prosperity Dumpling reopens.
It’s almost September and we’ve completely refreshed our monthly picks for the best outdoor art installations with all new selections. While many of our selections from summer will still be live, these are new ones to discover during your explorations of New York City.
Photo via The Wythe Hotel
Summer, and therefore “roof season” has blasted past, and although the weather remains great long past Labor Day weekend, just when it cools off enough to really enjoy the evenings, many of the rooftop bars close. But many don’t! So while you may not have exhausted our list of best off-the-beaten path rooftops for summer yet, we recently asked Leslie Adatto, author of the book Roof Explorer’s Guide: 101 New York City Rooftops, the first-ever guide to public access rooftops, to share with us her top 10 for fall.
Brooklyn Crab, photo via Brit & Co.
Brooklyn Crab has great views and great food, and when it’s a bit cooler out, they just roll down the clear plastic “windows.” You can take the Ikea ferry over there so it’s a fabulous day out.