A neighborhood of New York City known for its safe streets, long history and venerable institutions, Morningside Heights lies between the famed districts of Harlem and the Upper West Side but maintains its own unique identity. Located in uptown Manhattan, Morningside Heights’s boundaries are 110th Street on the south, Riverside Drive on the west, 125th Street on the north, and Morningside Drive to the east. While this NYC neighborhood’s identity is often considered intrinsically tied to that of Columbia University, there’s more to this neighborhood than the prestigious Ivy League campus. A district of rising affluence, strong local presence and national historic landmarks, Morningside Heights is a popular and significant neighborhood of Manhattan.
Originally used as farmland, the neighborhood blossomed when Columbia University established its campus in Morningside Heights in 1895, beginning a wave of middle-class growth, collegiate expansion and new construction that has not abated to this day. Teachers College and Barnard College have also staked claims in Morningside Heights, giving the area the nickname of the “Academic Acropolis of New York City.” But while the development of the collegiate scene of Morningside Heights is a strong characteristic of the neighborhood, there is a strong residential and cultural presence that refuses to be overshadowed by academia.
Historically venerable, Morningside Heights played an early part in the American Revolution as the scene of the Battle of Harlem Heights, the first major victory of American forces led by George Washington. Grant’s Tomb, the national landmark managed by the National Park Service (and the source of lame grade school jokes nationwide), is a scenic tribute to an influential president. The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, the world’s largest Anglican church and fourth largest church in the world, is located in Morningside Heights and has been recently renovated, establishing itself once more as an architectural and artistic marvel. The Riverside Church, right across the street from Grant’s Tomb, is a site of more modern historical significance, with such social luminaries as Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan having all given famous speeches there. A historic and intellectual bulwark with a strong residential community, Morningside Heights is an ever-growing and vibrant neighborhood of New York City.