With a nickname like ‘The City that Never Sleeps’, one would expect stories of ghostly spirits to be abundant in New York City. So, I started reasearching scary tales and hauntings of Columbia University, expecting to scare myself silly. But, surprisingly enough, I couldn’t find any true hauntings. What I did find was an interesting history of the university’s location as identified by blogger Michael Susi.
In the 1820s, Bloomingdale Asylum for the Insane took up residence on what is now Columbia’s teaching grounds. In its early days, the facility housed New York City’s mentally-ill residents; an estimated 300 people were housed here at the height of operation. In 1839, Blackwell’s Island asylum was opened, replacing Bloomingdale as home to the allegedly insane.
From then on, the Bloomingdale facility was used for patients that were believed to be curable, who were also typically wealthier than the previous inhabitants. At the time, the asylum was in a rural area, providing a peaceful atmosphere for the patients. It is also counted among the first of this type of facility to employ humane treatment methods.
In 1892, Columbia purchased the land and construction of the campus began. Visitors to Columbia today can stop by the Macy Villa building, near the Low Library, which is the only remaining structure from the days of Bloomingdale.
So, obviously this was not a ghost story. Do you know of a hair-raising tale at Columbia that I could not find? Share your story with us in the comments below!
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