10 Historical Facts You Did Not Know About NYU

1- NYU wasn’t a hit back in the days

In the 19th century, NYU wasn’t really doing well. The university suffered major financial distress and enrollment did not even exceed 150 students. With around 50,000 students enrolled now, I guess it’s an improvement!

2- Student Warriors

After the U.S. involvement in World War I,  Chancellor Brown established branches of the Student Army Training Corps; students fulfilled their national duty and the university was saved from financial distress.

3- Resurrected even after a Depression

After the Black Tuesday, starting the Great Depression, Chancellor Chase was still able to found the Division of Continuing Education,the Center for Research and Graduate Studies and the School of Public Service in order to keep enrollment happening. Looks like this guy has got it all figured!

4- your Orgo Lab used to be a factory

You’ve probably heard about the historical triangle shirtwaist factory fire: the deadliest industrial disaster in the U.S. history. The fire happened in the Asch Building, which is now called the “Brown” building. Same building where you do orgo lab and take CAS classes. The fire also lead to a legislation that fought for sweatshop workers.

5-You walk on the footsteps of giants, literally.

Among NYU faculty and alumni are  37 Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, Academy Award winners, and members of the National Academies of Sciences. Alumni students include heads of state, royalty, famous scientists, Olympic winners, major CEOs, and people who made it to space – okay, we can call them astronauts. Ever heard of Lady Gaga ?(that’s her in the Third North Dorm) Anne Hathaway? Martin Scorsese? Simon and Garfunkel? NYU historically never runs out of oscar winners.

6- Cool people lived on campus

There’s a dude named Samuel F.B. Morse, an artist who also developed the telegraph and created the Morse Code , who served as the first chair of Painting and Sculpture. He and Daniel Huntington were tenants of the Old University Building around the 19th century.

7- NYU and Hofstra were twins. Almost.

In 1935, NYU opened what was called the “Nassau College-Hofstra Memorial of New York University at Hempstead, Long Island”. Later on, this super long name became what was known as Hofstra University.

8- NYU Dorms have Ghosts and weird pasts.

Many NYU dorms used to be creepy hotels. Rubin dorm used to be Grosvenor Hotel, where many well-known visitors (like Mark Twain!) stayed there for the high price of a few bucks a night. Similarly, Greenwich dorm also used to be a high ceiling, high hotel. Founder’s Hall was St. Ann’s church and Palladium used to be a nightclub.

9-NYU starred in classics

Many movies and famous TV shows were shot around NYU or mentioned NYU.  the classic “When Harry Met Sally” , filmed in the 80’s, showed scenes all over Washington Square Park and NYU. You may have also noticed that F.R.I.E.N.D.S. has many shots of the east village, where Ross also gets a position at NYU and Joey participates in a sex study at the NYU medical school.

10- Safe haven for women and minorities

NYU finally offered women access to graduate studies in 1888 and teaching and law in 1890. The dudes in 1959 were not exactly happy about it at the beginning. In the early 1920s, NYU attracted talented Jewish and other minority students who were turned away from Ivy League institutions due to “Jewish quotas” that especially targeted first generation Jewish and other immigrants living in New York City.


Fatou Che

Neuroscience and Psychology nerd working in research. loves to cook, listen to people rant about their lives, make weird music, and asparagus.

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