The Butler Library at Columbia University, which is one of New York City’s oldest operating schools.

When you think of New York City’s rich cultural history, educational institutions may not be among the first words that come to mind. But many of New York City schools have roots from hundreds of years ago and were an important part of the city’s development. In fact, quite a few of these New York City schools were important milestones in the nation’s educational history, with some even earning superlative spots among America’s finest institutions.

1. The Collegiate School, 1628

The Collegiate School on the Upper West Side is the oldest independent school in the United States. Established in 1628 by the Dutch West India Company and the Classis of Amsterdam, which was the regional assembly for the Dutch Reformed Church boards, the school remains an all-male K-12 institution. Impressively, the school has only closed once in its four-hundred year history: during the American Revolution, when many people had to leave the area that is now New York City.

The Collegiate School was originally located just south of Canal Street, but this changed as New Amsterdam grew northward. Finally, in 1892, the school moved to its current location on West 78th Street. The Collegiate School became a non-profit institution in 1940. Though it is no longer directly run by a church and accepts males of all faiths, it still maintains its relationship with the Collegiate Churches and shares facilities with the West End Collegiate Church.