New York University (NYU) is a private nonprofit research university based in New York City. Founded in 1831, NYU's main campus is centered in Manhattan, located with its core in Greenwich Village, and campuses based throughout New York City. NYU is also a university with a global focus, where students travel internationally for education at NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai, as well as to centers in Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, London, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Sydney, Tel Aviv, and Washington, D.C.
As of 2017, 36 Nobel Laureates, 7 Turing Award winners and 4 Fields Medalists have been affiliated with New York University. In addition, among its faculty and alumni are over 30 Pulitzer Prize winners, over 30 Academy Award winners, and hundreds of members of the National Academies of Sciences. NYU has been one of the most influential universities in the world. Alumni include heads of state, royalty, eminent mathematicians, inventors, media figures, Olympic medalists, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and astronauts. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranks NYU 7th internationally for producing millionaire alumni, and Wealth-X ranks NYU 4th internationally for producing ultra high net-worth alumni with $30 million or more.
Albert Gallatin, Secretary of Treasury under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, declared his intention to establish "in this immense and fast-growing city ... a system of rational and practical education fitting and graciously opened to all". A three-day-long "literary and scientific convention" held in City Hall in 1830 and attended by over 100 delegates debated the terms of a plan for a new university. These New Yorkers believed the city needed a university designed for young men who would be admitted based upon merit rather than birthright or social class.
On April 18, 1831, an institution was established, with the support of a group of prominent New York City residents from the city's merchants, bankers, and traders. Albert Gallatin was elected as the institution's first president. On April 21, 1831, the new institution received its charter and was incorporated as the University of the City of New York by the New York State Legislature; older documents often refer to it by that name. The university has been popularly known as New York University since its inception and was officially renamed New York University in 1896. In 1832, NYU held its first classes in rented rooms of four-story Clinton Hall, situated near City Hall. In 1835, the School of Law, NYU's first professional school, was established. Although the impetus to found a new school was partly a reaction by evangelical Presbyterians to what they perceived as the Episcopalianism of Columbia College, NYU was created non-denominational, unlike many American colleges at the time. American Chemical Society was founded in 1876 at NYU.
It became one of the nation's largest universities, with an enrollment of 9,300 in 1917. NYU had its Washington Square campus since its founding. The university purchased a campus at University Heights in the Bronx because of overcrowding on the old campus. NYU also had a desire to follow New York City's development further uptown. NYU's move to the Bronx occurred in 1894, spearheaded by the efforts of Chancellor Henry Mitchell MacCracken. The University Heights campus was far more spacious than its predecessor was. As a result, most of the university's operations along with the undergraduate College of Arts and Science and School of Engineering were housed there. NYU's administrative operations were moved to the new campus, but the graduate schools of the university remained at Washington Square. In 1914, Washington Square College was founded as the downtown undergraduate college of NYU. In 1935, NYU opened the "Nassau College-Hofstra Memorial of New York University at Hempstead, Long Island". This extension would later become a fully independent Hofstra University.