Due to its connections with various state agencies and many affiliated institutions along with Columbia-Presbyterian Medical
Center, it is by some estimates, the largest employer in New York City.
Taken by itself, without its affiliated institutions, it is at most the third-largest employer (the University's own estimate)
and at a minimum, the twelfth-largest. Its status as a large landowner and employer has been established since the late 1950s. Due to the large numbers of employees, along with its pervasive status as a landowner, the
University has been viewed by some, particularly in the community that surrounds it, as a corporate entity rather than a
not-for-profit educational institution. This in turn has caused a divide between the University and those in the surrounding
area, resulting in continued resistance to the University's expansion.