During the, '40's and '50's, the Morningside Heights area, previously a high income white community, gradually became a low income neighborhood composed largely of ethnic minorities. This rapid change in the surrounding neighborhood forced Columbia University for the third time in its history to face the question: to remain or to move to an area more congenial to itself. Eventually the University made the decision to stay and change the environment in its favor.

The formation of Morningside Heights, Inc. in 1947 was the major factor in Columbia's decision to remain and to resist the encroachment of the surrounding neighborhood. Morningside Heights, Inc. (MHI) constituted a united effort on the part of the religious and educational institutions in Morningside Heights to "redevelop" the area. Its original membership was composed largely of the six educational institutions in the Columbia complex - Columbia, Barnard, Teachers College, Union Theological Seminary, Jewish Theological Seminary and the Juilliard School of Music - and of the three large churches in the area - Riverside Church (Baptist) Corpus Christi Church (Catholic) and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (Episcopal). The present MHI membership also includes; Home for Old Men and Aged Couples, International House, St. Luke's Hospital Center; Hilda's and St. Hugh's School, St. Luke's Home of Morningside House and the Interchurch Center.

The key person in the. formation of MHI was David Rockefeller; his involvement was crucial in preventing an institutional exodus from the area. As a result of a study of the deterioration of the Morningside Heights area by his former sociology professor at the University of Chicago, David Rockefeller personally persuaded the Morningside Heights institutions to form a. joint planning agency; he provided its initial financing of $104,000. (MHI's annual budget of $250,000 is now provided entirely by member institutions.)

David Rockefeller served as president of MHI from 1947 until December, 1957. At that time Grayson Kirk, President of Columbia and director of the Rockefeller-controlled Socony-Mobil Oil Corp. took over the position. Rockefeller, however, is still the most important policy-maker in MHI, as is illustrated by the following memo from Kirk to his aides, Truman, Goodell and McGoey:

"I talked last Friday with David Rockefeller about the proposal that Warren Lundquist take over the presidency of Morningside Heights, Inc. He was quite frank in saying that such a move would be impossible at this time because Lindy is the president of one of his new and very large developments in San Francisco, is deeply involved with the second project in San Francisco, and is also heavily involved in the Downtown Manhattan Project. Hence, regretfully because of his [David's] interest in Morningside Heights, Inc. he felt that we must look elsewhere.
Grayson Kirk
(reprinted-in the Rat, May 17-30, 1968)
David Rockefeller's role in the formation of Morningside Heights, Inc. stems from his family's large investment both monetary and psychological - in the area. The Rockefeller family has provided a major share of the financing of four of the institutions - Riverside Church, International House, Interchurch Center, and Union Theological Seminary - which function as an important source of the Rockefeller family prestige.

According to a compilation, printed in the N.Y. Herald Tribune, May 12, 1960, David's father, John D. Rockefeller Jr. contributed the following sums to MHI institutions between 1917 and 1959 (this does not include Rockefeller Foundation grants to Columbia University):

Cathedral. of St.. John the Divine, $508,000
Barnard College, $1,231,000.
Riverside Church (founded and built by JDR, Jr. in the '20's), $26,476,000
International House (founded 1921 with a gift of land and $3,000,000 from JDR, Jr.), $6,663,000
Interchurch Center (founded in the '50's with a gift of land from JDR, Jr.), $4,210,000. The Sealantic Fund, a Rockefeller philanthropy, has bought two buildings (49 Claremont and 468 Riverside) for planned expansion of the Interchurch Center.
Union Theological Seminary, $3,713,000
Columbia University, Teacher's College, $225,000
Morningside Heights, Inc., $104,000
A study of the boards of directors of the International House, the Interchurch Center and Union Theological Seminary reveals, as does the accompanying chart of Morningside Heights, Inc.'s board of directors, at persons associated with Rockefeller interests predominate. For example:

John J. McCloy, Chairman of the Board of International House, is former chairman of the Rockefeller's Chase Manhattan Bank. He is a partner in the Rockefeller associated law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy.
Dana Creel, Director of Morningside Heights, Inc. and vice president of the Interchurch Center is secretary of the Sealantic Fund and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, both Rockefeller philanthropies, and is a trustee of the Seamen's Bank for Savings, a Rockefeller-associated bank.
Edmund Wagner, President of the Interchurch Center and a director of Morningside Heights, Inc. is on the Executive Committee of the Seamen's Bank for Savings. He is also a director of Uris Buildings Corp.
John N. Irwin, II, Chairman of the Board of Union Theological Seminary trustees and a trustee of the Interchurch Center, is a Director of the Seamen's Bank for Savings, a director of the U.S. Trust. Co. (both Rockefeller-controlled financial institutions) and a member of a Rockefeller-associated law firm, Patterson, Belknap & Webb.
Robert W. Purcell, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the International House, is also Chairman of the Board of the International Basic Economy Corp. (IBEC), a large Rockefeller overseas investment company.
John I. Howell, Treasurer of the International House, is president of the J. Henry Schroeder Banking Corp. and of the Schroeder Trust Co., both Rockefeller banking institutions.
John Foster Dulles, an important Board member of Union Theological Seminary between 1945 and 1953, was a partner of Sullivan & Cromwell, the prestigious Wall Street firm which includes among its clients, Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey. In the '30's Dulles was President of the Rockefeller Foundation.
The first major project MHI undertook to "redevelop" the area was the construction of the middle-income Morningside Gardens apartments on a site previously inhabited largely by lower income families (covering a full block between Amsterdam and Broadway, and La Salle and 123rd Sts.). This project provided the decisive turning-point in the battle of the Morningside institutions against the indigenous inhabitants. As Fortune Magazine put it in February 1955, "the whole community has experienced a psychological and physical turning of the tide.

MHI bought the property (after the city condemned it) through its real estate subsidiary Remedco. It then setup a separate corporation,-the Morningside Housing Corp., to build the apartments. A realtor who is a close personal friend of David Rockefeller, Leonard J. Beck (also a trustee of Inter. ;;national House at the time) headed the corporation and played a key role in raising the $15 million to '..finance the buildings.

Leonard Beck and Glenn McHugh (a present MHI director) handle real estate holdings of Rockefeller controlled institutions. McHugh is real estate vice president of Equitable Life Assurance; Beck manages some of Equitable's real estate acquisitions. Significantly, both played a key role in assembling the site for Equitable, on which Uris Buildings Corp. and Rockefeller Center Inc. built the Sperry Rand Building (see real estate section). The participation of these two men in both the assembling of properties for institutional expansion in Morningside Heights and the assembling of midtown commercial properties for the Rockefeller interests offer one more insight into the intricacies of Rockefeller dominance over Columbia.