7. City College of New York, 1847

Its vast green lawns and Gothic-style buildings have earned the City College of New York (CCNY)  the title “Hogwarts of Manhattan” by Harry Potter affecionados. The man behind this neo-Gothic architecture was George Browne Post, who designed it when CCNY moved to its current location in 1906. The buildings were built out of Manhattan schist excavated from the construction of the New York City subway

But originally, the diplomat and businessman Townsend Harris founded CCNY downtown in 1847 as the “Free Academy of the City of New York.” He aimed to provide free education to the poor and descendants of immigrants. This institution became the first college in the CUNY system, with Hunter College and Brooklyn College, which were established in 1870 and 1930, respectively, following suit. 

Dr. Horace Webster was the first president of CCNY, and from the start, the curriculum included nine subjects. Unlike many contemporary private schools, including the nearby Columbia College, CCNY saw male students of several races and social classes graduate (this would eventually include women in 1930). The first class graduated in 1853.

The “Free Academy” became “The College of the City of New York” in 1866, and then in 1961 became “City College of the City University of New York” when the CUNY system developed.