Archive for July 2008

Barnard College

July 26, 2008

Right smack across Broadway from Columbia University is the much smaller Barnard College. Originally a college for women, it may still be. But I know that male students from Columbia attend classes there as needed.

It’s small, compared with Columbia or most any other university that’s as well known. At most, it covers about four blocks although it may be deeper than it looks.

I went by it as just a lark to see how big it really was. I had done it a long time ago and I think it is about as small as memory serves. From what I understand, there are only a couple of thousand students enrolled. But since Columbia students can cross over, it makes the potential attendees much larger.

I passed by what I think is their main gate and noted that they had several privacy signs up. I felt at ease wandering around Columbia, but this place seemed a little more restrictive. So, I just kept walking.


A simple but perfect bench at Columbia University

July 25, 2008

I really liked this bench. I mean, it was so simple and plain and ordinary that I might have passed right by it. And I probably have during my several visits to the campus over the past couple of years. It’s just a simple stone bench.

With a good inscription and provenance.

It’s hard to read, and I doubt you can see it on the above picture, but engraved on the bench’s back are the following words: “To fellowship and love of alma mater 1886 Arts, Mines, Political Science; 25th Anniversary.” So, I presume it was presented to Columbia sometime around 1911.

In terms of gifts and the like, it’s absolutely top notch. Well, maybe not quite as good as the lampposts I cited earlier; but still really nice.


St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University

July 24, 2008

One of the most aesthetically pleasing buildings within Columbia University is, wouldn’t you know it, a church. Or, rather a chapel. St. Paul’s Chapel, by name.

As an Air Force brat, I’m used to chapels and their distinctly multi-sectarian focus. I wasn’t surprised to note that they have Jewish services and even have a Moslem prayer group. I do admit being surprised to see that they actually have a Hare Krishna study group. I don’t know why, but I was.

It was originally founded as a Episcopal chapel, but that’s pretty much gone by the wayside, I’d guess. There’s a printed history outside the doors that details a bit of the chapel’s history. It was designed by Newton Phelps Stokes (and makes the point that he went by “Newt”). Well, Newt thought that St. Paul’s was his masterpiece. The building was started in 1904 and dedicated in 1907.

To be honest, I don’t know if it is a real masterpiece (although I note that it was honored as an official landmark by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1966 and probably more than qualifies as one). But I really like the lampposts outside the doors.

There are actually two of them, on on each side of the door. They were donated by the Class of 1883 during the 1908 Commencement. I mean, look at these things. Ain’t they magnificent!


Los Amigos Garden and Casita in Spanish Harlem

July 23, 2008

When I was in Spanish Harlem recently, I came across a number of community gardens. The most absolutely unusual one I have ever seen is right there on Pleasant Avenue and has the very “Barrio” sounding name of “Los Amigos Garden and Casita”.

The key to the “unusual”-ness of it is the word “Casita”. I hadn’t seen it on a community garden’s name before. It turns out that the word means “little house” and refers to a small house within the garden area. Imagine my surprise when I walked into a community garden and saw the below.

It was actually occupied. I thought I had wandered into someone’s yard and was trespassing! There were a few well-humored guys there (no English that I heard) and they motioned me to go on up to the house. But I felt like an intruder and took a couple of pictures and moved on. It wasn’t until later that I discovered the concept of casita and realized it might have been a real treat. But, then I really don’t know the rules of the house and whether it is only for community contributors and the like.

It doesn’t really matter. I wanted to see something unusual in El Barrio and I got something rather nice and special. To bad for me I didn’t know it at the time.


Some Columbia University Buildings

July 22, 2008

One thing I rather admire about Columbia is the layout of the buildings. There are a bunch of them and they generally share a similar architecture (at least to my eye). Yet, their settings make them distinct and I never got the feeling of a grid where there was a building every X feet or so.

I did note that most of them have names, but often no description about what they are used for. Sometimes they have a descriptor carved into the beams, but I tend to doubt that they are still used for the original use. Well, I guess.

Anyway, the next building has a very simple name: Philosophy. I have little doubt as to the accuracy of that name. And for a hot, hot day; people seemed to be around it more than most of the other buildings. It sort of reminds me of the old saying “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.” Well, I was out there and so were the others…what does that classify us as?

But lots of the buildings have names like the next one: Dodge. I could make all sorts of bad jokes on that, but I’ll leave that up to my readers. I can say this: nice building. Largish, too.

Near Dodge is Lewisohn Hall. Hey, it got two words in its name (unlike Dodge).

The next one was one of the “cool” buildings. I really like the looks of this one: Earl Hall. Above the door mantle are the words: “Erected for the students that religion and learning may go hand in hand and character grow with knowledge.” I rather like that sentiment. I wonder if Earl Hall has anything to do with its ancient charge (“ancient” being a few decades old)?

More modern buildings do exist (and give lie to my earlier statement about “similar architecture”). Uris Hall is pretty centrally located. And it has a bit of modern sculpture (or however they want to classify it). Compare Uris and Earl and consider which one you’d like to go to. As for me (on that hot day); probably Uris as it was more likely to have central air. And a view of Earl Hall, maybe.

Avery Hall (below) is another one that I don’t know what it does. It is impressive, though.

Finally, a better shot of a building I mentioned in my earlier post: Journalism. As I understand it, this is where the Pulitzer Prizes are given.

I think this blog is safe from getting one of those.