When Columbia was first founded as King’s College, it was located where we find the Financial District today. Its so-called Park Place campus consisted of pretty much just one, long building, overlooking the Hudson. It was surrounded by fields and farmland, which extended far up the largely unpopulated island. Braving the archives, correspondent Anna Hotter brings you this piece of our pastoral past. 

The Park Place campus was only in use from 1760 to 1776 when the building was seized as a military hospital because of the Revolutionary War. In 1784 the college reopened and remained in its downtown location until 1856, when it moved to Madison Avenue.* The Park Place building stood close to Trinity Church, which you can still visit today. Feeling particularly adventurous? You can find a plaque commemorating King’s College in its original spot.

*An earlier version of this article omitted the fact that the Park Place campus resumed operation until 1856

Photos via the Columbia library archives