Columbia University is located in New York City, the largest and most unique urban center in the United States. In addition to hosting world-class dining and entertainment, the city and the surrounding metro area provide Columbia Chemistry students, faculty, and staff with unparalleled opportunities to pursue their interests while they conduct premier research in one of the world’s top-rated chemistry departments. The campus and surrounding neighborhood sit atop the sloping cliffs of the Manhattan Ridge, a geological formation that has created the hilly, high country of northern Manhattan. Together with the stunning neoclassical architecture of the Morningside Campus, this has earned Columbia the nickname “The Academic Acropolis.”
Downhill and to the south and east of campus are the historic Upper West Side, Manhattanville, and Central Harlem neighborhoods, which with are dotted with restaurants, bars, museums, jazz clubs, theaters, parks, and more. The campus and surrounding neighborhoods provide easy access to many New York greenspaces. Morningside Park borders campus to the east, Riverside Park and the Hudson river are a short walk to the west of campus, and the northwest entrance to Central Park is a 15 minute walk from campus.
Most members of the Department of Chemistry live in University owned and subsidized apartments in the Morningside Heights neighborhood. All graduate students are eligible for these apartments, which are offered at well below market rate. For graduate students, university apartment housing places single students in two bedroom apartment shares with other students in graduate programs at Columbia. One bedroom apartments are also available for long-term couples, and larger apartments are available for families. Some students also choose to live off campus, and can use resources from the University’s Off-Campus Housing Assistance program or apartment finder websites like StreetEasy to help with the sometimes daunting task of finding an apartment in New York.
New York has an extensive public transportation system that runs 24 hours per day. With with stops at 110th, 116th, and 125th and Broadway, the MTA’s 1 train passes directly through Morningside Heights providing easy access to downtown and the outer boroughs of Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. There are also many bicycle paths close to campus. Starting in 2016, New York’s bike share program, Citibike, will have stations as far north as 110th St. The University also provides an intercampus shuttle for transportation between the Morningside Campus, the Medical Campus, and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Most department members do not own cars, but street parking is more readily available near Columbia and the surrounding neighborhoods than it is in other parts of the city. Students who plan on bringing a car should be aware that there is street sweeping twice per week, and should familiarize themselves with the alternate side parking rules in order to avoid parking tickets. For more information about traveling to the Columbia campus see our Visitor Information or visit Columbia’s Transportation website.
There are many grocery stores, delis and bodegas in Morningside Heights and the surrounding neighborhoods. Morton Williams is located directly across from campus at 115th and Broadway. West Side Market at 110th and Broadway has an excellent produce and prepared foods sections. Fairway Market, right next to the Hudson river just north of 125th St. at 12th Ave, is one of the largest grocery stores in Manhattan, and features an entire chilled section for milk, eggs, meat and more complete with parkas for more cold-sensitve patrons. Appletree deli and market at 120th and Amsterdam has staples and a limited produce section along with a full service salad and sandwich bar.
Most university-owned apartment buildings have laundry facilities onsite. In addition, there are several laundromats in the Morningside Heights neighborhood as well as many full service cleaners that offer wash-and-fold service priced by the pound.
Most major U.S. banks have branch locations near the Columbia campus including Citibank, J.P. Morgan-Chase, Bank of America, TD Bank, Santander Bank, and more. There are also two Citibank ATMs located on campus one in the business school’s Uris Hall and one in the student activity center, Lerner Hall.
Members of the Columbia community enjoy steep discounts with the mobile carriers AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-mobile. Most but not all university apartment buildings are equipped with Columbia’s own internet service and managed by CUIT. All other buildings are serviced by Time Warner Cable, which, in addition to internet, provides land-line phone and television services. Some areas of the city are also connected to the Verizon Fios (español) fiberoptic network.