Columbia has an extensive tunnel system connecting most buildings on campus and acting as conduits for steam, electricity, telecommunications, and other infrastructure. The tunnels are a mysterious, foreboding place fully explored only by legendary figures in campus history They are where unspeakable acts of pure horror are committed.
- See main article at History of the tunnels
Mudd/Uris/Havemeyer tunnel system
One steam tunnel system connects Mudd Hall, Uris Hall, Dodge Fitness Center, and Havemeyer Hall, and is generally considered the easiest to access. These tunnels contain old rail track that was used to transport coal for heating. They also contain the "Signature Room," where one can find many quotes and names left by previous tunnelers. As with all tunnels on campus, these contain many more secrets for students to discover. This tunnel system also used to connect to the first floor of Pupin Hall, but that way was blocked in the 1990s.
Until the Summer of 2003, the first floor of Pupin was virtually untouched from the last days of the Manhattan Project. Notes and daily logs scattered dusty tables. Half-completed experiments sat in stasis, only visible to the few explorers who got in. Since 2003, the first floor has been cleaned out, and is now mostly empty. However, one of the first cyclotrons remains, though it is difficult to access.
Other tunnel systems
A tunnel between Butler Library and Low Library is rumored to exist, but no evidence of such a tunnel has ever been found. Any entrance to this tunnel from Butler Library is well hidden or heavily locked, and the Low Library entrance would be next-to-impossible to find given that Campus Security is based on the first floor.
Old maps, from the 1950s, are accessible easily from the Columbiana Library. They are still roughly accurate. If you bug the reference librarian enough she might bring over the newest editions of the grounds maps. These new maps unfortunately can't be posted online due to copyright restrictions.
The map at the top of this article was created by former Columbia student Mike Schiraldi and released under the GFDL. It was created in 1999 so it's somewhat out of date, and is incomplete. The purple areas, marked "rumored," are just that; they almost certainly don't exist. As described in the map's legend, different colors are used to indicate different types of tunnel and levels of certainty:
- Green lines indicate areas that are not only known to exist but also places that the Columbia administration openly allows students and staff to be. For example, the underground connection between Hartley and Wallach halls.
- Yellow lines indicate areas that are known to exist but considered off-limits to all but Columbia's maintenance workers.
- Purple lines indicate rumored connections that have not been verified. In particular, there is almost certainly no tunnel under Broadway or along College Walk.
Famous tunnel explorers
- Benoit - a famous tunnel explorer who still answers questions about and leads tours of the system
- Ken Hechtman - a student whose group ADHOC wrought havoc in the tunnels in the 1980s and subsequently was expelled for stealing uranium from the Pupin basement