Vintage Postcards Reveal Columbia University’s Unusual Past

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 Columbia University educates top-notch brains, but a century ago, the campus of the Ivy League school was a haven for a different type of mind — the mentally-ill.

Hobbyist historian Michael Susi spoke on the prestigious school's unusual history Thursday at the American Youth Hostel, at 891 Amsterdam Ave. 

Susi, a 48-year-old administrator at Columbia University, collects vintage postcards and he's dipped into his collection of nearly 10,000 to publish two books that reveal how Morningside Heights and the Upper West Side gradually shifted from bucolic to bustling. 

The asylum began operating in the 1820s, and at its height was home to roughly 300 inmates, Susi said. The facility was a "dumping ground" for all of New York City's insane, until the infamous Blackwell's Island asylum opened in 1839, Susi said... 

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