It is a little known fact that the University of the City of New York (now New York University) was founded as a Christian University. Not unusual at a time when most of the world was founded on one intellectual principal or another, it did not take long for the metropolitan college to secularize.
Still, first university chancellor, the Reverend Dr. James Matthews made the following speech at the main building’s ground breaking ceremony:
“…the result was a determination to establish this University. One of the objects then contemplated was that the Institution should be Christian, thoroughly Christian; not merely in name, but in Spirit and in truth; and yet at the same time so Catholic and elevated above minor points as to embrace among its patrons, Christians of all those denominations, that were seen working together so harmoniously in other Institutions designed for the Illumination and improvement of the public mind…”
This conception influenced the design of the main university building, which was designed to reference the grand splendor of European cathedrals and places of learning. For almost a century then, this Gothic specter kept watch over Washington Square Park in a rather intimating and very memorable fashion.