With more than 120 academic programs and somewhere around 12,000 students, Columbia College is the largest and most diverse private arts and media college in the nation. Founded in 1890 shortly before the World's Columbian Exposition (which inspired its name), Columbia College has been feverishly acquiring historic buildings in Chicago's South Loop over the past several decades and has steadily expanded to become the neighborhood's largest landowner. It now occupies 14 buildings, including four high-rise student residences, in the heart of downtown Chicago.
Columbia College, with assistance from DePaul, Roosevelt, andRobert Morris, has helped transform the South Loop neighborhood into a bastion of student activity. College kids are everywhere, though young professionals and empty-nesters have also made their presence felt. Over the course of the past decade, the South Loop witnessed a frenzy of high-rise apartment and condominium development. Thousands and thousands of new residential units in modestly luxurious buildings now offer great views of Lake Michigan, Museum Campus, Grant Park, and Soldier Field. There's also plenty of restaurants, retailers, supermarkets, and entertainment options. Plus, the El runs right through theneighborhood, which makes commuting a cinch.