Harkness Theatre

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The Harkness Theatre was a famous lecture hall located in the basement of Butler Library. This put it just below street level, resulting in a convenient public entrance from 114th Street.

The room was named for donor Edward Harkness, who supplied the funds for the construction of the library.

Harkness, with its paneled walls, its high cherrywood podium facing fixed wooden seats on a steeply raked floor, was the University's most dramatic lecture hall and (if only because it could accomodate professors whom everyone wanted to hear) probably its most prestigious humanities lecture hall. Lionel Trilling, for instance, customarily lectured in Harkness. Nobel Prize winner Saul Bellow set Sammler's celebrated lecture scene[1] in Harkness-- one of the more famous moments in 20th century American literature.

Harkness Theatre disappeared during the wave of construction during the late 1990s and early 2000s. The theatre is now office space.


  1. p.36ff, Mr. Sammler's Planet, 1970