CCNY in Souvenirs, 1900-1947

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In 1900, a newly-incorporated New York City boasted 3.4 million residents, 1.8 million of them in Manhattan. The center of population was shifting northward. Before land north of 50th Street became too desirable, Columbia, NYU and The City College began looking to create large, inexpensive new campuses further uptown. Columbia purchased a site in Morningside Heights in 1891 just after NYU acquired land on Fordham Heights in the Bronx, and CCNY began acquisition of land on Hamilton Heights in 1892.

Columbia's new campus was built 1898-1902 and NYU's was occupied in 1894. Since a new campus for CCNY was subject to public approval, the construction moved at a much slower pace, and City college was not able to join Columbia and NYU in occupying "high, dramatic sites overlooking their immediate environs" until 1907.

The architectural significance of new construction in the city - not just skyscrapers - was of enormous interest to purveyors of souvenirs to tourists. They took great pains to make sure that the newest, biggest and best were included in items offered for sale. McKim Mead & White's new campuses for Columbia in the Italianate Renaissance style and NYU in the Classical Revival style, and especially George Browne Post's Collegiate Gothic buildings for CCNY were 'picture perfect' for souvenirs.

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