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How is the neighborhood area around Columbia?

Surfthewave4Surfthewave4 Posts: 53Registered User Junior Member
edited August 2010 in Columbia University
What did you first notice about the environment Columbia resides in? Is it in a safe area of New York? Could you tell me your experience as a college student, regarding the off campus environment of Columbia/ NYC? Therefore, do go into details.

Is Columbia Univeristy or New York University situated in a more preferred area of New York City? Thank you for the help!
Post edited by Surfthewave4 on

Replies to: How is the neighborhood area around Columbia?

  • thinkforyourselfthinkforyourself Posts: 49Registered User Junior Member
    Morningside is a pretty standard urban neighborhood--if you avoid placing yoursel at risk, you minimize the risk of crime. For example, from what I understand a high proportion of crimes are committed around morningside and riverside park around and after dusk and in the early morning. That said, morningside and Harlem are both much safer now than they probably ever have been.

    I use the museums and restaurants alot, but there's no typical experience. If you show initiative, you will be able to use nyc's resources fully. These questions irk me because you alone are in control of how much you alone take advantage of the city--it is very accessible via walking and the 1 line.

    NYU is in a much more lively area. That does not mean that you should go to nyu however lol, so many other factors, most importantly core or no core.
  • cujoe169cujoe169 Posts: 3,318Registered User Senior Member
    what do you notice about the area around columbia? columbia. that's about it. safety? i've never felt it to be unsafe, but then again i have a friend who was mugged jogging in riverside at 2pm, so there ya go.

    as a matter of personal opinion, i'd prefer the NYU area. columbia's immediate surrounding area is boring. very boring. most students, current and former, will tell you the same thing, that you'll have to take the subway to almost anywhere worth going to. that said, i don't think there's much more involved in picking a college instead of the livelihood of the area.
  • 3togo3togo Posts: 5,231Registered User Senior Member
    edited August 2010
    ^ ... hmm... that's an interesting perspective ... I'm not sure what locations are exciting if a Manhattan one is "very boring". I prefer college-town sprawling campuses personally so I'm not really into urban campuses.

    That said my oldest attends Barnard which is literally across the street from Columbia. Columbia is in Morningside Heights with is a residencial area in Manhatten north of the Upper West Wide. It is a residential neighborhood so if you want to go to a club, museum, or game you will need to jump on the subway .... however this is Manhattan so the streets on the edge of campus have a ton of resteraunts, stores, vendors, and NYC energy ... and there are, I beleive, 7 colleges in the Morningside Heights itself so a lot of these business cater to students.

    I've made the grand tour to selective urban campuses in the Northeast and I can't think of any campus that has more going on right off campus as well as an easy subway ride away. Georgetown, MIT, and Harvard are in the middle of bussling neighborhoods also. Penn, Johns Hopkins, and UChicago do not have as much right off campus although there is plenty of great stuff very close by. Yale is in it's own category ... there is a fair amount of stores and shops right off campus (more than Penn, Uoc Chicago, and Hopkins) but New Haven overall can't campete with Boston, Chicago, Baltimore, or Philly.
  • admissionsgeekadmissionsgeek Posts: 1,679Registered User Senior Member
    As far as an urban campus that still retains the sense of campus I think Columbia is pretty strong. The campus itself is pretty cohesive in the sense that you feel it is meant for students to hang out in, and for the most part you get a sense that the neighborhood has developed to support the various folks (students, staff, alums) that are associated with the university.

    For me the first thing i notice is the fact that there are some three dozen places to eat within a 10 walk from campus, many of which moonlight as bars, various supermarkets, some decent cultural attractions (grant's tomb, st. john's), and then a subway stop right in the middle. Two major parks that although they aren't great night spots, are great for running in, playing basketball, soccer, tennis or whatever interests you.

    As for safety, I never felt unsafe, living near another urban university that 3togo mentions, I can unequivocally say I felt safer in MoHeights; the fact that street lights are on at all hours of the night, folks are up at all hours, you never quite feel alone. as the first poster notes, with any major city there is just a law of averages situation, eventually something not so great will happen to someone, but in the many years i lived on and after near campus i never had anything happen to me nor an anecdote of something that happened to a friend of mine.
  • Thacher2011Thacher2011 Posts: 8Registered User New Member
    If you want to check out the neighborhood a bit more extensively and you cannot make it to NYC for a visit or did not have time to really explore morning side, I recommend checking out google street view, if you have not already done so. Great way to pretty much "walk" through Morningside heights and see the shops and general architecture. If you don't know how to access it, type in columbia university in google maps. You should see a small animated orange person in the left region of the window. Drag him to Morningside heights and voila, you have panoramas of every ten feet in morning side heights, and for that matter in virtually every major city in the world.

    By the way, on a different note, as many of the posters mentioned the area around morning side is rapidly gentrifying. What was long thought to be one of the more dangerous areas close to Columbia's campus is the Manhattanville district to the north - the same place that columbia is building its brand new 7 million square foot campus. Once that really gets underway, which it is sure to do because of the recent court ruling in Columbia's favor, you'll see the areas around Manhattanville become even more safe than they already are and have an abundance of retail in addition to the stretch along broadway between 122nd and 125th streets. Also, a great place to check out in Morningside Heights is right by there: The peaceful street right by the international house and adjacent to Sakura park (a really gorgeous place) called Claremont Avenue. It runs parallel to Broadway and starts on the south side of Barnard's campus and extends north only about five or six blocks. When you're there, check out the new Harlem riverside park, which as far as I've heard, has free kayaks to use too.

    In terms of Morningside Heights safety, it is considered the second safest neighborhood in the safest large city in the U.S. If you would like further reassurance check out this link that shows Columbia is safer than Penn, Yale, and Harvard. And yes, you got me, it is not as safe as bucolic Dartmouth or Cornell... Crime Statistics at the Ivies > Brown, Columbia, Cornell, crime, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, Yale | IvyGate

    In addition, while most marvel at Columbia's campus, many note the lack of open green space. Yet, the plethora of vacant green space in Morningside from Saint John's Cathedral's grounds to Sakura, Riverside, and Morningside parks easily make up for it.

    I realize this is quite a long post and I apologize for that, but I also recommend putting this in perspective: Columbia's immediate neighborhood may not have the hustle and bustle of some NYC districts such as Greenwich Village (where NYU is) or Midtown, but in fact, that may be one of its greatest advantages. As many users have said, it's so nice to have an oasis away from all of those crowds and noise once in a while, to be able to venture into sleepy riverside simply enjoy the fresh air and breeze. Or gaze from Sakura Park at the abutting Gothic glories that are the Union Theological Seminary and Riverside Church (the tallest chapel in the whole of the United States at 392ft - nearly twice the height of Yale's "eminent" 216ft Harkness Tower). That's not to say that Broadway is not a happening place between 110th and 116th, because it is. Same goes to Amsterdam Avenue near St. Johns Cathedral (111th street) and between 120th and 122nd streets. To reiterate, think about it... It CAN be nice to have a more low key neighborhood like Morningside to fall back on. The city is great, I've lived there and San Francisco for quite some time, but for anyone, even the most devout urbanites, it can be overwhelming at one time or another. All in all, I can safely say that I would have Columbia nowhere else...
  • pwoodspwoods Posts: 1,096Registered User Senior Member
    If you're worried about the safety, then don't be. It's really a very safe, fairly gentrified neighborhood, for better or worse. If you're worried about excitement and glitz, then go to NYU. Columbia is a college campus on the edge of an incredible city. There is a great urban college town atmosphere in Morningside Heights with tons of great places to eat (and drink) and of course the rest of Manhattan is a short subway ride away. However, if you want a real "urban campus" experience where everyone goes clubbing on the weekends, you'd definitely prefer NYU. But if you'd like great college with a real campus in an amazing city, you can't get any better than Columbia.
  • cujoe169cujoe169 Posts: 3,318Registered User Senior Member
    There is a great urban college town atmosphere in Morningside Heights with tons of great places to eat

    whoa whoa whoa... let's not go nuts here :)
  • Surfthewave4Surfthewave4 Posts: 53Registered User Junior Member
    Thank you all for writing informative and eye widening accounts; therefore, this is surely helping me in my college decision regarding Columbia University and New York University.
  • nicolenhsnicolenhs Posts: 118Registered User Junior Member
    Morning Side Heights is a great place, clean and quiet for NYC
  • ivyalumivyalum Posts: 157Registered User Junior Member
    I'm surprised that no one here has mentioned that Morningside Heights took top spot on Princeton Review's list of great college towns (not that I am a great fan of Princeton Review).
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