Hamilton Hall (Columbia University)
Hamilton Hall is an academic building on the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University in the City of New York. The building is named for Alexander Hamilton, one of the most famous attendees of King's College, Columbia's predecessor. A statue of Hamilton graces the steps outside the building.
The original Hamilton Hall was built in the Gothic Revival style and located on Madison Avenue on the college's former Midtown campus. When Columbia reconstituted itself as a university and relocated to Morningside Heights in the 1890s, there were originally no plans for the area south of 116th Street, where Hamilton Hall now sits, or for any facilities dedicated to the undergraduate college. Nevertheless, college advocates persevered and the cornerstone for the new Hamilton Hall was laid in 1905. The building was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead, and White in the neoclassical style, in conformity with the rest of the university campus. It was completed in 1907.
In the latter half of the 20th century, Hamilton Hall was taken over several times in the course of student protest activity, most famously during the protests of April 1968. In the course of this protest, a multiracial group first barricaded themselves inside the building, imprisoning acting dean Henry Coleman in his office. The black students eventually asked the white students to leave, prompting the latter's takeover of several other university buildings. After the violent end to the April activities, Hamilton was the most peacefully cleared hall but was briefly reoccupied later that year. The building was also the site of a major 1985 student strike and barricade to demand university divestment from South Africa, which was under the apartheid system at the time, as well as ethnic studies classes at the university.
Most recently, Hamilton Hall has undergone extensive renovations in order to restore many of its historic details. The building houses many of the classes of Columbia College's famous Core Curriculum, and it is apparently a tradition of the teachers of the Core class Contemporary Civilization to watch students filing into the building for exams from the roof of nearby Butler Library.