My uncle is a professor here, and once told me a funny story about the school's beginnings.
Back in the 1950s, the main building for the school was across the street from a police station. Now, this is when being a Beatnik, i.e., a Steve-Buscemi-in-The-Hudsucker-Proxy-kinda-cat, was becoming popular, and if you were an art kid in Manhattan in the 50s, odds are you were a Beatnik. So at it turned out, the school was full of these pre-hippy illegal drug-using, anti-authority Beatniks. The police at the station across the street weren't too happy about this.
They started persecuting students and, in general, giving the school a hard time. So, Silas Rhodes, a co-founder of the school, came up with a great solution: Put the Life Drawing class on the 4th floor of the building. Why? You see, across the street at the police station, the cafeteria was on the 4th floor. So, when there was a young, nubile female posing nude for the class, all of these police officers got a nice view of things while they ate their lunches. A happy police officer is a benevolent police officer. The cops stopped persecuting the students pretty quickly after that.