Pupin Physics Laboratories, Columbia University (NRIS 66000550)
Broadway and 120th St.,
New York. County/parish: New York.
1 contributing building.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places
October 15, 1966.
- Pupin Hall
- Pupin Physics Laboratories , also known as Pupin Hall, is home to the physics and astronomy departments of Columbia University in New York City and a National Historic Landmark. It was built in 1925-1927 to provide more space for the Physics Department which had originally been housed in Fayerweather Hall, and named for Serbian physicist Mihajlo Idvorski Pupin, who graduated with honors in 1883 at Columbia College, after his death in 1935. The building is located on the south side of 120th Street, just east of Broadway. It has been named a National Historic Landmark for its association with experiments relating to the splitting of the atom, achieved in connection with the later Manhattan Project.
By 1931, the building which later became Pupin Hall was a leading research center. During this time Harold Urey (Nobel laureate in Chemistry) discovered deuterium and George B. Pegram was investigating the phenomena associated with the newly discovered neutron. In 1938, Enrico Fermi escaped fascist Italy after winning the Nobel prize for his work on induced radioactivity. In fact, he took his wife and children with him to Stockholm and immediately emigrated to New York. Shortly after arriving he began working at Columbia University with Dr. John Dunning. His work on nuclear fission, together with I. I. Rabi's work on atomic and molecular physics, ushered in a golden era of fundamental research at the university. One of the country's first cyclotrons was built in the basement of Pupin Hall by John R. Dunning, where it remained until 2007. The building's historic significance was secured with the first splitting of a uranium atom in the United States, which was achieved by Enrico Fermi in Pupin Hall on January 25, 1939, just 10 days after the world's first such successful experiment, carried out in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Pupin Hall is named after Mihajlo Idvorski Pupin (also known as Michael I. Pupin), a Serbian-American scientist and graduate of Columbia. Returning to the university's engineering school as a faculty member, he played a key role in establishing the department of electrical engineering. Pupin was also a brilliant inventor, developing methods for rapid x-ray photography and the "Pupin coil," a device for increasing the range of long-distance telephones. After his death in 1935, the university trustees named the newly constructed physics building the "Pupin Physics Laboratories" in his honor.
The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965. In 2009 the American Physical Society named Pupin Hall a historic site and honored Isidor Isaac Rabi for his work in the field of magnetic resonance. (read more...)
Significant persons associated with this site:
National Park Service documentation: https://npgallery.nps.gov/AssetDetail/NRIS/66000550