Welcome! The following is a guided audio tour of Columbia University’s cultural landmarks that showcases the University’s contributions to the worlds of sculpture, architecture, literature, film, the stage, and more.
» Or download the full tour as a single mp3: English | Spanish | Cantonese | Mandarin (total est. time: 50 minutes)
... or scroll down to access short audio selections and details for each destination.
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Teachers College is one of the oldest schools of education in the country and home to the Macy Art Gallery. Attendees of Teachers College have included painters Agnes Martin, Ad Reinhardt and Georgia O‘Keeffe.
Built in 1930 as an interdenominational church, with major financing by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and inspiration from European cathedrals, Riverside Church is one of the best examples of Neo-Gothic architecture in the United States. The bell tower houses 74 bronze bells, one of which is the largest in the world, weighing 20 tons. Riverside Church is also notable for the remarkable speakers who have given lectures and sermons within its walls, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Barack Obama. The church is also home to a massive organ and the four paintings by German artist Heinrich Hofmann.
Alfred Lerner Hall is a center of activity for students, faculty, staff, and alumni on Columbia University’s Morningside campus. Lerner Hall was completed in 1999 and replaced Ferris Booth Hall, which was constructed in the 1950s and served as the center of student life for nearly 40 years. Designed by Bernard Tschumi Architects and Gruzen Samton Architects, Lerner Hall includes two distinct parts to signify both continuity with the original features of the campus and ultra-modern revisioning of these earlier themes. The 5,600-square-foot glass campus facade embodies the central themes for the building: accessibility, visibility, and an open, welcoming space in which students can interact both spontaneously and intentionally.
St. Paul’s Chapel was built in 1904 through the generous contributions of the Stokes sisters. In 1966, the chapel was among the first buildings designated an official landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Today, the chapel serves as the center of spiritual life on the Columbia University campus and provides a unique space in which art flourishes. Music at St. Paul's includes a variety of performances of sacred music in St. Paul's Chapel as well as performances by stellar musicians from the New York City community. Additionally, the basement of St. Paul’s hosts the Postcrypt Art Gallery, a student-run organization designed to provide student artists and curators with the opportunity to create, curate, and exhibit their work.
Revson Plaza connects Columbia’s main campus with the Law School and SIPA, the School of International and Public Affairs, on a bridge which spans the width of Amsterdam Avenue. Two sculptures reside in the plaza: Bellerophon Taming Pegasus by Jacques Lipchitz and Tightrope Walker by Kees Verkade.
The Beat generation began at Columbia with the chance meeting in 1943 of two freshman floor-mates, Allen Ginsberg and Lucien Carr. Columbians also founded four major American publishing houses: Clifford Brace and Alfred Harcourt founded Harcourt Brace and Company, now Harcourt, Inc.; Bennett Cerf founded Random House, Alfred Knopf founded Alfred A. Knopf Publishers, which is now part of Random House, Inc.; and Richard Simon and Max Schuster founded Simon and Schuster. Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism was founded by Joseph Pulitzer, and Columbia University is home to the Pulitzer Prize, which has rewarded outstanding achievement in journalism, literature and music for over a century. Art Garfunkel, Herman Wouk, Ira Gershwin, and many other influential arts alumni were also affiliated with the University.
Located in Avery Hall, the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library is one of twenty five libraries on the Columbia campus, and is the largest architectural library in the United States. Collections include books and periodicals in art history, sculpture, painting, decorative arts, architecture, photography, historic preservation, and archaeology. These collections are vast and include materials from Francesco Colonna's Hypnerotomachia of 1499 to a Frank Lloyd Wright collection.
Le Marteleur, or The Hammersmith, as it’s translated, by Constantin Meunier is a bronze cast of one of Meunier’s most famous works. The sculpture depicts a pincerman, a 19th century laborer who used giant pincers to grasp bars of hot metal. The Hammersmith was originally installed in front of Lewisohn Hall, home to the United States’ first school of mining and metallurgy. In 1864 it became Columbia’s School of Engineering & Applied Sciences and the sculpture was moved, along with the department, to its home here on Seeley Mudd Terrace.
The Scholar's Lion, given to the University in 2004 by a group of alumni including the sculptor Greg Wyatt, might look familiar. After briefly studying journalism at Columbia in 1917, Howard Dietz became vice president for advertising and public relations for the Goldwyn Pictures Corporation, later MGM, where he adopted the Columbia Lion for the studio's logo. Possibly inspired by the University's fight song, "Roar, Lion, Roar!", the Goldwyn lion's debut roar was delivered by phonograph on July 31, 1928, at the beginning of the silent movie White Shadows of the South Seas.
Barnard College, the all-female undergraduate college of Columbia University, houses an exceptional dance program that is integrated with a liberal arts curriculum. Many critically acclaimed performances take place here on campus and at various venues throughout the city during the school year. Barnard is also home to a distinguished music department and theatre department. Barnard College has many distinguished alumnae, including actress Cynthia Nixon from Sex in the City; singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega; Sheila Nevins, executive director of programming for HBO; and modern dance choreographer Twyla Tharp.
Low Memorial Library was completed in 1897 and served as Columbia’s main library through 1934. Built in the classical style, this building houses the offices of the President and the Provost. Low’s rotunda is distinguished by its dome, the largest all-granite dome in the United States. The rotunda formerly served as the Library’s main reading room. It is now used for exhibitions and major University events. At the foot of the stairs leading to the entrance of Low stands the Alma Mater statue. Harriette W. Goelet commissioned Daniel Chester French to make a memorial to her husband, Robert, who graduated from Columbia University in 1860. Design of the statue (in bronze, on a marble and granite base) began in 1900 and it was unveiled and dedicated on September 23, 1903. Alma Mater has many legends associated with it. One says that the first freshman to find the hidden owl in the sculpture will be valedictorian of his or her class.
Dodge Hall contains the Miller Theatre and School of the Arts at Columbia University. Miller Theatre is a performing arts producer dedicated to developing and presenting new work from world-class artists. Acclaimed for its innovative programming, Miller Theatre provides an intimate exploration of the creative process through its programs, and a look into the personalities and emerging trends in contemporary classical music, opera, dance, and film. Its adventuresome performances and elevation of advanced ideas have established Miller Theatre as a nationally recognized cultural center for artistic discovery.
Sponsored in part by the Arts Initiative at Columbia University. This funding is made possible through a generous gift from The Gatsby Charitable Foundation.
This podcast was also sponsored by the Program in Arts Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Student Advocates for the Arts.
A special thank you to Professor Joan Jeffri, Director of the Arts Administration program at Teachers College, Columbia University, and the students and alumni in the program in Arts Administration for creating the Columbia Culture Map. Finally, a special thanks to the annual sponsors of the Columbia Culture Map and Student Advocates for the Arts.
This tour was compiled by Jonathan Rohner, Justin Goldberg, Elizabeth Sullivan and Shannon Houston, and written/researched by Jonathan Rohner, Eliana Glicklich, Arielle Garber, Rebekah Beaulieu, Sara Oldknow, and Carla Costa in conjunction with Student Advocates for the Arts.
Audio recordings were conducted by Jonathan Lewis (English), Tian Deng (Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese), and Eva Mendoza (Spanish).
* Please direct any inquiries or comments about this audio tour to the Program in Arts Administration at Teachers College, Columbia University.