The Okayest Freshman Dorm

Location: 519 W. 114th Street, New York, NY 10027

Nearby Dorms: Wallach, Hartley, and Ruggles

Nearby Stores and Restaurants: John Jay Dining Hall, JJ’s Place, Strokos, NY Basics, Hamilton Deli

Cost: The projected first-year rate for the 2023-2024 academic year is $11,000


  • Bathrooms: Shared single-use bathrooms on each floor.
  • AC/Heating: As of the 2023-2024 school year, every room has an AC unit! My unit had an evil spirit within and would spit little pieces of ice out sometimes and make mysterious rattling. In winter, there is heating.
  • Lounges: Each floor has a lounge with tables, chairs, a microwave, and a whiteboard to entertain your creative side. No kitchens, but you can walk to Wallach or Hartley for that.
  • Laundry: Free laundry located in the basement. Do be warned that your laundry will be moved if you aren’t on time—John Jay has a lot of residents with a lot of laundry to be done at all times of the day.
  • Bike Storage: None.
  • Printers: Two printers near the main lounge. Incredibly handy for late-night studying in your dorm.
  • Elevators: Two VERY slow elevators. One goes to the 13th floor, and the other reaches the 14th floor. 15th floor residents will need to take the stairs. As a resident from over 100 years ago noted “a fellow dropped dead from old age waiting for this elevator.”
  • Hardwood/Carpet: Hardwood floors inside rooms, with carpeted hallways and lounges. 
  • The John Jay lounge on the main floor is perfect for meeting up with friends. It also ends up being overflow seating when John Jay Dining Hall inevitably fills up. Nice furniture and a decent place to study.
  • John Jay also has indoor access to Wallach and Hartley via tunnels on the first floor, which is sort of useful.
  • There’s a seating area outside John Jay’s doors with tables and benches available, which are great for sharing a meal with friends on warm days.
  • Columbia Health Medical Services are located on the 4th floor, so you’ll have easy access if you ever get sick!

Room Variety:

  • Among the 11 residential floors, John Jay has 395 singles and 36 doubles. Singles roughly range from 110 to 125 square feet. Many doubles are so generous as to practically be singles—two rooms have a nearly closed-off wall separating them, with only one door to the hallway. Doubles of a normal nature are around 180 square feet.

Bwog Recommendation:

As a first-year resident of John Jay, I think it is overall a great dorm for freshmen. The location is very central, there are so many students in your building, and you have great access to two dining halls. The ability to go to JJs in your PJs at 2 A.M. is unparalleled. I lived in a double, but most residents have singles. The rooms are fairly nice and have large closets. The rooms do have a lot of weird nooks and corners which makes it hard to arrange things sometimes – especially if you have a double. The AC units are nice, but it is annoying that now you cannot open the windows. You didn’t hear this from me but the windows open from the top if you unscrew a piece. My friends who had singles thought they were small but did the job. Most doubles are walk-through (except mine which wasn’t). If you try early on to make friends it is nice to know lots of people on your floor. You will always see them on the extremely long hallway! Because of the setup of the dorm, I found that it is not the most conducive space for community building. The lounges on each floor are small, closed off, and leave much to be desired. The bathrooms are single use, which is nice as long as the resident before you is not gross. John Jay is reported to have roaches in warmer months, but I think this problem is less prominent than in past years. I did however, know a girl who moved to a different floor since she had mold in her room after it rained for many days. If you live on a higher floor like me, (I am a survivor of floor 14), you will constantly be annoyed by the elevator but you will have great views and no critters on your floor. The bathrooms on higher floors are also nicer. If you live on floor 15 you have larger rooms and great views, but no elevator access and sloped ceilings. Each floor has its own distinct smell and lighting, which is funny. I would recommend John Jay to any freshman who doesn’t have strong opinions over dorms.


  • “Compact college experience. John Jay is the place.”
  • “You have dining, printing, big common spaces available to you.”
  • “As far as freshman housing goes, this is a safe choice.”
  • “John Jay is not that bad.”
  • “It has 2 dining halls and ample bathrooms.”
  • “Sometimes it smells, but that’s okay.”
  • “Good choice overall”
  • “I think the lounges are not great and are pretty boring and secluded”
  • “Bathrooms can take time to get fixed if they break.”
  • “Bathrooms can be super gross if the person before you sucks.”
  • “Not super community-oriented as its layout is like a hotel.”
  • “The doubles are a freaky layout. The singles are small but have all the space you need in a somewhat social building.”
  • “Sometimes the showers get clogged and it is gross.”

Photos! Look at past Bwog housing reviews for more

John Jay Façade via Bwarchives

John Jay Rooms and Views via Bwogger