Columbia Business School Essays 2007

This triangular block was also home to the Floridita Restaurant, a much-loved Cuban eatery that relocated further east, and reopened after three years of frustrating delays.The gas station, seen here in 2011, was one of at least three in the neighborhood that were demolished by Columbia.

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After a bitter, decade-long fight, the first two buildings on Columbia’s new Manhattanville Campus—both designed by starchitect Renzo Piano—are now open. This ongoing construction project will displace an estimated 5,000 people, and has already pushed out dozens of small businesses.

So far, Columbia has leased space to just one new business on its campus—a rock climbing gym—while leaving wide swaths of land empty and undeveloped.

The gas station, seen here in 2011, was owned by Gurnam Singh, who was one of the last holdouts in the neighborhood’s bitter, protracted fight against Columbia’s expansion plans.

Singh and his family had owned the business, located at West 125th Street and 12th Avenue, for over 25 years.

“These were not remarkable buildings, in the sense of high design; a lot of them were vernacular.

But often, that’s what makes a neighborhood really exciting,” says Eric K.I do not like to see things become completely sanitized, because you are washing away the soul of a place, when you do that.” Today, where gas stations and lunch counters once stood, Columbia University has constructed two new buildings: the Lenfest Center for the Arts and the Jerome L. Grey and glassy, they loom over the heart of old Manhattanville, providing a stark contrast between the neighborhood’s gritty roots and its highly polished future.If Manhattanville’s landscape is already a pale reflection of its past, then during the next phase of construction, it will lose even more of its colorful history.There was a fish bait shop, where everybody would come to buy bait and go fish. is the last active industrial business still standing in a four-block area that extends from West 125th Street to West 132nd Street between Broadway and 12th Avenue, which has been almost completely demolished by Columbia. Columbia University became their landlord in 2007, and it plans to eventually demolish their century-old warehouse during the second phase of its campus expansion.There was a pizza shop, a stripper club.” Many of the businesses displaced by Columbia did not want to leave the area, but were forced out with the help of the New York state government, which threatened to use eminent domain to seize their property. For those who have studied the history of West Harlem, the demolitions in Manhattanville have diminished the soul of the community.Washington, a historian, tour guide, and author of . They revealed the soul of the neighborhood, and what made it important.” On a recent walk around the new campus, Washington reminisced about the neighborhood’s earlier charms, including its days as an automobile manufacturing center and a milk processing hub.“There are so few neighborhoods that you walk in and they really tell you what they were all about, and you feel it immediately.Both are owned by Columbia, and both are not protected by landmark status, although the university intends to leave them standing, for now.This April, Washington will lead a walk around some of these remnants for the Municipal Art Society, as part of a special 20th anniversary version of his first Manhattanville walking tour.It was a neighborhood that still had that,” said Washington, a New York native who lived in Manhattanville during the 1990s.“It had a funkiness to it, and I was an advocate for preserving a lot of that funkiness.


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