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Old Coal Hoppers, Columbia University
Manhattan, NYC


Deep underneath the basements of the buildings at Columbia University, a network of brick and stone tunnels connects to the partially-flooded subbasement that houses this old coal hopper, a leftover from when the university was heated with coal.

Columbia University moved into its Morningside Heights location in 1900, but it was not the first institution in the region; it actually took over a campus that had previously belonged to Bloomingdale's Insane Asylum. (Almost all of the asylum's buildings were destroyed to make room for new university buildings, but there is one exception: Macy Villa/Buell Hall, which houses the french department, was an original structure from the asylum which was left standing after being moved slightly to the north.)

In some places in Columbia University's tunnels and subbasements, it is possible to see sections of the old foundations of the insane asylum that once existed-- a wonderful example of how going underground can lead to going backward in time.