Secrets of Columbia University
Four little-known facts about New York City’s Ivy.
Ivy League universities just love secrets. Secret societies, secret passageways—even how to get into an Ivy must be some kind of secret. While the historic schools all share that private, mysterious aura, each one has its own unique quirks and stories.
Columbia University, New York City's Ivy League, for example, was first known as King's College. It was established by royal charter from King George II of England, though a revolt against the monarchy (also known as the American Revolution) forced the institute to suspend classes for eight years. One of its most eminent students? Alexander Hamilton (there's even a statue honoring the Founding Father outside Hamilton Hall).
After independence from England was won, the university reopened with an equally liberated name, Columbia. It's since moved uptown, constructed a few new buildings, and amassed a handful of secrets hiding in plain sight. Here, four things you might not have known about Columbia.
Ghostbusters was filmed here.
Not only were several scenes shot at different places around campus, but the iconic film’s main characters worked there (though Columbia isn’t named in the film, the university where Bill Murray and co. perform their research is clearly Columbia to any trained observer). This gives Columbia the distinction of being the only school that can boast with any truth that Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis were all employees.
There's a restaurant in a dorm room
Or at least, there was. Student Jonah Reider opened an intimate, four-seat tasting room called Pith inside his dorm at Hogan's Hall. He's served everything from trout with fennel gremolata and Chanterelle rice to braised celery root soup. Unfortunately for New York City gourmands, Reider graduates in 2016.
An animal is hiding in the famous statue.
The Alma Mater statue is perhaps Columbia’s most recognizable icon (if you’d like a look at it, just go ahead and watch Ghostbusters). The bronze sculpture is a depiction of Athena and presides over majestic steps outside Low Memorial Library (which is actually a main administration building). What most people don’t know is that an owl is sculpted into the folds of the goddess’s robe. We’ll let you try to find it.
Its not-so-secret secret society is on a popular album cover.
St. Anthony Hall, the epitome of exclusivity, is a glorified fraternity with a choice riverside location and a bit of a sordid history. While many know of its existence, not everyone realizes they’ve already seen inside the hall. The cover of Vampire Weekend’s megahit first album is a picture of a chandelier inside the club, taken at an early show.