Princeton University History

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544
Phone: (609) 258-3000
Princeton University History

Chartered in 1746, and known as the College of New Jersey until 1896, it was British North America's fourth college.  The College of New Jersey was relocated to Princeton in 1756.  In 1896, the college achieved University status and was officially renamed Princeton University.

Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering.  As a research university, Princeton seeks to achieve the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding. At the same time, Princeton is distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching. There are approximately 4,760 undergraduate students enrolled at Princeton. An entering freshman class usually numbers 1,245, with students coming from all parts of the United States and from more than 50 countries. International students comprise about 9 percent of the undergraduates. Princeton has approximately 850 full-time faculty members who teach as well as engage in scholarly research. The faculty includes recipients of the Nobel Prize in physics, literature, economic sciences, and medicine.

University Chapel - Its Collegiate Gothic architecture makes the Chapel one of the most beautiful buildings on campus. It was built between 1925 and 1928 with donations from alumni and friends to replace the Marquand Chapel, which had been destroyed by fire. It seats nearly two thousand people, making it the third largest university chapel in the world. It contains a collection of stained glass by American artists and is used for services of all faiths.

FitzRandolph Gateway - Located in front of Nassau Hall, these wrought iron main gates, erected in 1905, were opened for commencement exercises. At the request of the class of 1969, they have remained open since.

Nassau Hall - When completed, Nassau Hall became the largest stone building in America and was named in memory of King William III of England, House of Nassau and Prince of Orange. Its wall, twenty-six inches thick, withstood two years of occupation during the Revolution by British and American troops, and two devastating fires during the 1800's. After the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777, the British surrendered to General Washington here, and one of the shots from Alexander Hamilton's battery mutilated the portrait of George II, which hung on the wall. The royal farm was saved and subsequently used to hold Charles Wilson Peale's famous portrait of George Washington. The first Legislature of New Jersey met in Nassau Hall in 1776, where it approved the State Constitution and adopted a State Seal. Nassau Hall was the National Capitol from June to November in 1783, when the Continental Congress received General Washington to convey the thanks of the nation for his service.  During this session, Congress received news of the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which officially ended the war.

To learn more about Princeton University campus life, and for information on taking a tour of Princeton University, please visit the Princeton University campus visits page