City College was actually a product of the Bengal Renaissance. During that golden period in the nineteenth century, that marked the transition from the medieval to the modern, a group of enlightened Bengali gentlemen like Pandit Shivnath Shastri, Ananda Mohan Bose, Umesh Chandra Dutta, Sir Surendranath Banerjea and others, earnestly felt the urgency to spread modern education among the mass. This band of progressive gentlemen belonged to the Brahmo community and was associated with Sadharan Brahmo Samaj.
On the 6th day of January 1879, Ananda Mohan Bose in collaboration with Pandit Sivanath Sastri and Sir Surendranath Banerjee of Sadharan Brahmo Samaj founded a high school and within a couple of years, in 1881, the high school became a college, named City College, with the inaugural of FA Course. Initially the College started in an old house, and after a few days a building at 13, Mirzapur Street (now Surya Sen Street) was purchased for the purpose.
With the introduction of the Commerce department in 1939, City College attained the position of the biggest college in India. But that was only the beginning of a longer story. Within a few years, in 1943, the College inaugurated the women’s department. In 1883 a Law Department was added and in 1884, it was elevated to a First Grade College with the introduction of degree courses.
In 1905, the college was placed under the control of the Brahmo Samaj Educational Society. The present huge building of the College at 102/1 Raja Rammohan Sarani was constructed in 1917, which was inaugurated in 1918. Rammohan Hostel was also constructed during the same period.
In course of time City College opened many other branches throughout the City of Calcutta. However, under instructions of the University Grants Commission, the various branches of the City College were converted to separate colleges in 1961. While the original main branch of the college, located at Amherst Street, retained the original name, the morning and evening section of the main branch, along with other branches situated in different localities of the city, were renamed with different identity as separate colleges, like City College of Commerce & Business Administration, Rammohan College, Sivnath Sastri College, Heramba Chandra College and etc
As a matter of policy, City College promotes games and Sports and participates in various tournaments organised by the University and the other state-level sports bodies.