Hartley Hall

Hartley Hall was the first official residence hall (or dormitory) constructed on the campus of Columbia University's Morningside Heights campus, and currently houses undergraduate students from Columbia College as well as the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. The building is named for Columbia alumnus Marcellus Hartley Dodge, who donated $300,000 for its construction shortly after his graduation. The building was meant as a memorial to his grandfather, Marcellus Hartley, the owner of Remington Arms, who died during Dodge's sophomore year and who bequeathed him the family fortune. Dodge hoped to create “the commencement of a true dormitory system" at Columbia.

Construction began on Hartley Hall in 1904 and it opened in tandem with Livingston Hall in 1905, welcoming students with its lobby of marble and oak. 200 students were housed in corridor-style rooms of various sizes. Lounges provided opportunities for social events such as teas with professors, although there was not yet an undergraduate dining hall on campus. Rooms of the period cost $3.30 per week, or $129 for the academic year, which, although more expensive than a roominghouse, ultimately allowed even poor students to afford bearth there. University President Nicholas Murray Butler, who presided over the hall's opening, noted that "in the interest of true democracy," rooms were arranged to allow "the poorer student to live in the same building and the same entry with him who is better off, and so avoids the chasm between rich and poor living in separate buildings, of which there is so much complaint at Harvard."

Subsequently, the building became home, among others, to authors Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, who noted its cockroach problem.[1][2]

Overhauled during a 1980s renovation, the dorm is now organized into mostly two-story suites, where up to 15 students live in single and double rooms. The suites' common space includes kitchens, bathrooms and living/dining areas. Along with neighboring Wallach Hall, it is currently part of the Living and Learning Center (LLC), home to suite-style housing that intermingles all class levels and features interactive events designed to draw them together. An application process is required to obtain housing in either of the LLC dormitories. Hartley also houses Columbia's undergraduate housing office. A small kosher deli used to be housed on the main floor. It was recently moved in 2007 to John Jay Hall.


  1. ^ Kerouac, Jack, Vanity of Duluoz, p.66
  2. ^ Kerouac, Jack, Visions of Cody, p.198

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