4. New York University, 1831

Members of the wealthy class of merchants, bankers and traders, who had the vision of creating a school where young men could gain admission based on merit rather than class, established New York University in 1831. At a City Hall Convention in 1830, over 100 delegates discussed the potential of establishing a school based on the University of London.

When the state and city rejected NYU trustees for funding, they raised $100,000 themselves. The founders also abandoned the classical curriculum for their school, which was funded by stock sales to stop religious denominations from directing the school.

While NYU signs and buildings are spread across several areas of the city, its first classes were held at Clinton Hall at the intersection of Nassau and Beekman Street, its sole facility for the first few years. Three years after its opening, the University Building in Washington Square East opened. Since then, it has rapidly expanded, often controversially.