Columbia University Club

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The Columbia Club of New York

The Columbia University Club of New York was founded in 1901 and is currently in residency in the Princeton Club of New York's building on 15 W. 43rd St. The club's original home was No. 18 Gramercy park, on the southwest corner of Gramercy Park South and Irving Place. The Club sold the property to developers in 1917 shortly after they had bought the Renaissance Hotel on 43rd Street.[1] The club sold the building (3 W. 43rd St.) to the World Unification Church (The Moonies) in 1973, when the club was wholly dissolved thanks to financial constraints and lack of interest in membership.[2]

The club was later revived and took up space with the New York Princeton Club. Today, alumni of all ages, graduate students, and even undergraduate students can become members and gain access to the Princeton Club's facilities.

Future plans

Many alumni have expressed dissatisfaction with the space-sharing arrangement, which they find demeaning for Columbians. The Princeton club, they complain, makes few allotments for Columbia accouterments or community. Various plans have been floated to re-purchase the old clubhouse across the street for exclusively Columbia purposes or to open a branch of the club downtown, near the original site of King's College.

The feasibility of these plans leave much to be desired. For one thing, there are only 2,000 present members of the Columbia Club, and midtown Manhattan real estate prices being what they are, it is no longer feasible past the early-to-mid-20th-century to entertain the possibility of a group of loosely-knit university alumni purchasing a clubhouse within 3 blocks of Times Square. The one notable exception was the Penn Club, which was opened in the late 1980s and largely bankrolled by Michael Milken, Wharton alumnus and originator of the now-illegal junk bond linked-financing scheme.

Furthermore, a new location for a club downtown near the original King's College site is also of limited use. For one thing, Manhattan's central business district has largely shifted north to midtown. The majority of Columbia alumni do not work in the downtown area. In fact, NYU alumni, who have use of the Torch Club near the Washington Square campus, are eligible to become associate members of the Princeton / Columbia Club because their own club is too far away to be feasible for use.

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