In the 17th Century, the land that is now Morningside Heights was known as Vandewater’s Heights, named for a landowner, according to Wikipedia.
On September 16, 1776, the Battle of Harlem Heights was fought there, with the most intense fighting occurring in a sloping wheat field that is now the site of Barnard College. A plaque by the Columbia University gate on 117th Street and Broadway commemorates this battle.
A century ago, as the New York Times has recounted, Morningside Heights was a desolate outpost on the northern fringe of the metropolis, almost empty except for the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum and the Leake & Watts Orphanage. Continue reading