When we look back at the history of Baruch College and the beginnings of CUNY, we find that our origins are here on 23rd Street and Lexington Avenue, where the Free Academy was built in 1847 as an experiment in higher education. What was our neighborhood like when the academy opened? Can we imagine young men walking to school or catching a horse-car to be on time for the Latin class? What did they pass en route and what did they see? The neighborhood around the Free Academy was more residential than it is today, since there was limited development north of 23rd Street. However, while the formidable Free Academy was nearing completion, Madison Square Park was also being prepared for its inaugural opening. A state bill passed to establish the Free Academy on May 7, 1847. Madison Square Park opened three days later, on May 10th.