City College was founded in 1847 by Townsend Harris to offer higher education to the children of the working class and immigrants. At that time New York City had over 500,000 inhabitants and only two private colleges with fewer than 300 students. City is the nation's flagship institution of public higher education, predating the Midwestern state land-grant colleges by two decades. For over 150 years CCNY has been a primary avenue to economic and social advancement for generations of New Yorkers who might not have had the chance to attend college. Today's CCNY is a microcosm of New York City, with one of the most diverse student bodies of any college in America. Over half the students were born abroad, coming from some 90 countries.
Alumni Association Web Site