Columbia campus tour: guided by GEM Transco Track student

Columbia University is in the heart of New York City, so one could believe that the campus would be very restricted. That one would be wrong. Columbia University’s campus is like a very beautiful village inside the city, with its history, architecture, accommodation, commodities etc. aside from the classrooms in themselves. As it is open to the public (aside from libraries that require a Columbia student card), New Yorkers come to visit or enjoy the sun in the lawns, sometimes with children or pets. I am going to try to give you a tour in this article, focusing on the main monuments or the places in which we often frequent, but the visit will be far from being exhaustive.

Law Plaza: Columbia University

Must see monuments

Let’s start with the entrance of the campus: you end up in the Law Plaza, which looks like a sort of Greek theater and holds most of the students’ life events. An important statue of the Alma Mater, representing intellectual nourishment, is watching over us. The legend says that if you are the first to spot the owl at her feet, you will be valedictorian (which will not be my fate, I still have not seen it). Behind her lies what could be considered as the most impressive building in the campus: the Low Library. Classical architecture, topped by a marvelous rotunda, it has no longer been a library since 1934 (because of the too important weight of books) but it does host major events and exhibitions. We attended a conference there given by the presidents of Namibia and Costa Rica for example.

Another noticeable monument is St Paul’s Chapel, with its gorgeous stained windows. It holds weekly services and art exhibitions.


The two buildings that our classes are held in are the International Affairs Building (IAB in short), a design and rather modern building, and Hamilton Hall, an original McKim guarded by a bronze statue of (very surprisingly) Hamilton.

Indeed, in the Columbia campus, the works of arts are not to limited architecture but also castings: An authentic statue of Le Penseur by Rodin sits in front of Philosophy Hall, and an impressive Lion that became the sport mascot of the University can be seen in front of the Havemeyer building. You can indeed find in this building the very famous classroom 309 in which were filmed a dozen movies, among which the Ghostbusters series, the Spiderman trilogy, Malcom X and Mona Lisa’s smile.

Much appreciated commodities

Even though we are not admitted in the very fancy dorms, we still spend most of our time on campus, because of the heavy workload. Therefore, one can find Columbia students at all time in the several libraries, the main one being the famous Butler Library: 6 stairs of floor rooms open 24/7.

Columbia University

If you need a little variety, you can always go to the IAB library, with many group study areas, or to the Law Library beloved for its comfortable armchairs, or to the Avery Library that is very quiet but does not allow coffee cups… The list goes on.

Student life is facilitated as well by the campus: wherever you stand, you can reach a university coffee shop less than 5 minutes away. An entire building, called Lerner Hall, is dedicated to students’ external activities: diverse clubs, lounge rooms, instruments or dance areas can be found in it. I will conclude this list by the most appreciated facility in time of pressure: the Dodge Physical Fitness Center.Dodge fitness center Columbia University

Very complete, and very free, we all enjoy the treadmills, musculature machines and/or the Olympic pool. We can also take some classes (from yoga to squash) or witness the training of the university team. Actually, the Columbia soccer team just won the 10th Ivy League championship!

Go Lions!


(By Blanche Audemard D’alançon)


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