A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from June 04, 2005
Acropolis of America (Morningside Heights)
The area of Columbia University in Morningside Heights is sometimes called the "Acropolis of America" or "New York's Acropolis." Part of that is old Columbia puffery, surely, but it's a legitimate description.

Morningside Heights. New York is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own character and personality. Our neighborhood -- Morningside Heights -- is an ideal setting for a great university. Situated on hilly riverside terrain about sixty blocks north of Midtown, it affords easy access to the city's cultural resources and attractions. Friendly, lively and sophisticated, it's an eminently livable residential neighborhood. Look for Morningside Heights just north of the city's Upper West Side, between 110th Street and 125th street. Broadway -- the "Main Street" of New York City as well as Columbia University -- takes on a collegiate air. There, on the east side of the street, the handsome George Delacorte Gate opens onto the Columbia campus.

A leisurely walk through the neighborhood takes you past a number of other important educational and cultural institutions, including Barnard College, the Union Theological Seminary, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Manhattan School of Music, Teachers College, the Interchurch Center, Riverside Church and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine -- a lively center of community life which, even though it's still being completed, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. Small wonder that Morningside Heights is often called the "Acropolis of America."

16 November 1894, New York Times, pg. 8:

Presidents of Three Universities As-
sist at the Ceremonies.


Thus Designated Because It Is the
Seat of Many Institutions of
Learning - New-York an
Object Lesson.
This hill is really the Acropolis of New-York.
(Said by Columbia University President Seth Low - ed.)
Our Parthenon will be a university.
(Said by President Gilman of Johns Hopkins - ed.)

7 April 1895, New York Times, pg. 20:

More Beautiful Places Anywhere Than the Morn-
ingside and Washington Hill Tops.

Riverside Drive Forms the most beautiful approach to this wonderful elevation, which has been called the Acropolis of America.

16 May 1896, Harper's Weekly, pg. 485:
The site is worthy of the university. It is a veritable

13 February 1897, Harper's Weekly, pg. 162:
Visionary persons began to dream of a segregated and
cloistered quarter devoted to the humanities, and even to
talk and to write about it, and some went so far as to call it
Our Acropolis.

7 March 1926, New York Times, pg. SM5:

Enduring Homes for Man's Aspirations to
Enrich the Cultural Centre on
Morningside Heights

21 May 1957, New York Times, pg. 37:

Heights Area Is Getting a
Mammoth Face-Lifting
It is bringing, along with new housing, expansion of Columbia University, Barnard College, Riverside Church, St. Luke's Hospital and other famed institutions clustered on what is sometimes called the Acropolis of Manhattan Island.

15 October 1959, New York Times, pg. 78:
The Morningside Heights area proposed for urban reclamation is one of many contrasts.

More than one-third of it is occupied by educational, religious and medical institutions whose presence has led to its being called the Acropolis of America.

Posted by Barry Popik
Neighborhoods • Saturday, June 04, 2005 • Permalink

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