Your Favorite Campus Places, Part Two!

Seven more spots that Lions love.

Students are about to return to Morningside, and we want them to know all the hot spots! In 2021, we gathered a list of your top nine favorite campus spaces, culled from more than 150 responses in our “Take Five” archives. We dug back in this year to unearth some lovely but less-traveled locales, where folks got the best coffee, listened to and made music, or met their future spouses. Our seven picks appear below, along with your memories of what makes these places so special.


Emma Asher

The Thinker

The Thinker statue has a special place in my heart because my grandfather gave me a small replica of it, and walking by it on my way to class always reminded me of the deeper, more contemplative side of academics — one rooted in the moral universe and the great quest for justice.

— Zak Ringelstein ’08

The lawn where The Thinker statue is. There are beautiful trees there and it’s so lovely to relax in that spot, soaking in the College’s history. I used to go there whenever I was overwhelmed, to remember to take in my experience on campus.

— Jacqueline Basulto ’17

I always loved the benches and little hideaway places where you could sit and read. I was particularly partial to those close to The Thinker — there was something comforting about how solid and beautiful it was.

— Andrea Miller ’89


Emma Asher

Amsterdam Avenue Bridge

I always enjoyed the bridge that extends over Amsterdam Avenue just north of 116th Street. It was simultaneously set apart — aloft above the busy bramble of the street below — and yet it felt so wonderfully open to the city. From its vantage, you could see the avenue’s traffic stretching beyond the limits of vision.

— La Marr Jurelle Bruce ’03

I had always idealized New York City, so the view from the Amsterdam overpass always amazed me. I loved watching the cars disappear down the avenue and all the lights glittering. I’ve always been a romantic, and that’s where I felt most connected with the city.

— Sheila Dvorak Galione ’03

Postcrypt Coffeehouse




Emma Asher

Another place that’s really special to me is the Postcrypt Coffeehouse, that hidden gem in the basement of St. Paul’s Chapel that’s famous all over the world in the folk music scene. I saw some amazing artists there, like Suzanne Vega BC’81, and it was also where my husband and I had our first date.

— Emily Jordan ’09

On weekend nights, I volunteered at the Postcrypt Coffeehouse, where I learned to make great popcorn and brownies, and heard some impressive acoustic performers.

— Melis Behlil ’96

I also loved the Postcrypt Coffeehouse. My roommate Bec ran the folk music shows there sometimes, and I had a great time going with her, drinking beer, eating popcorn and listening to the musicians who came to play.

— Jill Santopolo ’03

Wollman Auditorium*

Wollman in 1996

Wollman Auditorium in 1996.

Columbia University Archives

I loved Wollman Auditorium. I feel like I saw a movie there every week, and I also saw so many great shows in many different musical genres, from Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers to the Sun Ra Arkestra to A Tribe Called Quest. Best of all, my band, Special Request, got to play there, including a show opening for Digable Planets at the height of their popularity.

— Michael Goldwasser ’93

Wollman Auditorium was where I met my wife, Rita Pietropinto-Kitt ’93, SOA’96, who addressed my entire class on that first nerve-racking night at Orientation. Wollman was also where, in 1994, I got up the courage to ask Billy Joel if I could play a duet with him, and thanks to his great kindness, the two of us shared the stage performing “New York State of Mind.” There was something about that building that provided great comfort and warmth. You could always feel the creative energy, which for an artist is everything.

— Tom Kitt ’96

The office of Columbia Players in the basement of Ferris Booth Hall, and Wollman Auditorium, where my musicals were premiered “on Broadway” and where the Glee Club performed regularly, when not singing in Low Library.

— Bruce Trinkley ’66

*Wollman Auditorium was demolished in 1996; the space is now Roone Arledge Auditorium.

Schapiro Hall Basement


Jill Shomer

Without a doubt, the basement of Schapiro Hall for the piano practice rooms. I was there almost every day, before and after classes, taking advantage of the luxury of free pianos and solitude. Sometimes I would invite friends in for impromptu piano/vocal jam sessions. I would even go in at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. if I was having trouble sleeping and just play until I tired myself out. I wrote and developed my first musical on those pianos. Every time I sit down and play songs from that show on my keyboard at home, I can close my eyes, and I am brought right back there.

— Salvatore Giovanni Volpe ’19, GSAS’21

Another favorite was the Schapiro basement; I was either there to enjoy a steaming plate of falafel over rice or to listen in on the rehearsals of the Indian classical group that my brother and other friends played in.

— Zak Aldridge ’19

Buell Hall/Maison Française


Jill Shomer

I’ve also always loved the Maison Française, though I’m not sure I ever entered it. If I remember right, Buell Hall is a leftover from the Bloomingdale Asylum, which Columbia agreed not to tear down, and I think it’s the incongruous detail that makes the grand but slightly overbearing design of lower campus really sing.

— Will Heinrich ’99


Emma Asher

Joe Coffee, Northwest Corner

Definitely NoCo and its sleek Joe coffee shop. The glass and marble gave me a strange sense of calm during weeks and even whole semesters that sometimes felt overwhelming and stressful, and the coffee was (and still is!) delicious.

— Kosta Karakashyan ’19

I was on the opening staff for Joe Coffee in the Northwest Corner Building, and I loved it. There was something about the natural light, the clean lines, and the use of glass and steel that was so much more aesthetically pleasing than Lerner.

— Harry Flager ’13

Coffee and Columbia are not mutually exclusive — if anyone reading this was never a caffeine drinker and managed to complete all their coursework on time, please contact me immediately.

— Kristin Simmons ’12