5. Union Theological Seminary, 1836

The oldest independent seminary in the United States, the Union Theological Seminary, located at 121st Street and Broadway, and affiliated with Columbia University, was founded in 1836 by members of the Presbyterian Church. However, students of all religions could attend.

During the late 1800s, the seminary became the American hub of liberal Christianity and became independent of the Presbyterian Church in 1893. Its members played a large part in the settlement house movement by establishing the Union Settlement Association in East Harlem.

In the 1960s, the decline of liberalism led to financial strains with a smaller student base. When the school consented to lease some of its land to Columbia, it became more fiscally stable.