Columbia University's Low Memorial Library
New York City

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Welcome to our New York City Photo Gallery. Columbia University's Low Memorial Library.

The Low Memorial Library is located on the Columbia University campus in Morningside Heights, Manhattan, New York City. It was built in 1895 by University President Seth Low as the University's central library. Financed with $1 million of Low's own money due to a lack of funds from alumni (a recurring problem throughout the university's history), he named it in memory of his father, Abiel Abbot Low. It has housed the central administrative offices of the university following the completion of the Butler Library in 1934, and is the focal point and most prominent building on the university's Morningside Heights campus.

The steps leading to the library's columned facade are a popular meeting place for Columbia students as well as home to Daniel Chester French's sculpture, Alma Mater, a university symbol. Low Library was officially named a New York City landmark in 1967, with the interior being designated in 1981, then a National Historic Landmark twenty years later.


Low Library was designed by Charles Follen McKim of the architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White, which was responsible for the design of much of Columbia's Morningside Heights campus. The library was designed in the neo-classical style, incorporating many of the elements of Rome's Pantheon. The building is in the shape of a Greek cross and features windows modeled on those of the Baths of Diocletian. The columns on the library's front facade are in the Ionic order, suited to institutions of arts and letters. An inscription on the building's attic describes the history of the university. It reads:

    King's College Founded in the Province of New York

    By Royal Charter in the Reign of George II

    Perpetuated as Columbia College by the People of the State of New York When they became Free and Independent - Maintained and Cherished from Generation to Generation

    For the Advancement of the Public Good and the Glory of Almighty God

Columbia University

Columbia University in the City of New York (colloquially known as Columbia University), is a private university in the United States and a member of the Ivy League. Columbia's main campus lies in the Morningside Heights neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan, in New York City. The institution was established as King's College by the Church of England, receiving a Royal Charter in 1754 from George II of Great Britain. One of only two universities in the United States to have been founded by royal charter, it was the first college established in the Province of New York, and the fifth college established in the Thirteen Colonies. After the American Revolution it was briefly chartered as a New York State entity from 1784-1787, however the university now operates under a 1787 charter that places the institution under a private board of trustees.

Columbia University's Low Memorial Library New York City

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