The War on Tunnels: An Update
Written by Bwog Staff
A Bwog daily editor reports on a distressing development in the world of tunneling:
A year ago, your correspondent made a bid for tunneling immortality. With sharpie in hand, I went in search of the Columbia tunnel system’s holy grail–a Manhattan Project-era cyclotron rumored to be somewhere in the upper campus tunnel system.
It turns out that while the ‘tron was in fact accessible from the tunnels (by way of an unnecessarily complicated although perhaps more adventurous process where you have to follow a tunnel under Mudd and hop over a wall…there was a great description on the old CU tunnels Wiki, which has mysteriously been taken offline), the thing itself resided on the first floor of Pupin–which is totally locked, unless you feel like going to the Pupin 1 men’s room and negotiating the crawlspace between this heating duct and the ceiling.
So negotiate it I did. And what I found, readers, after squeezing myself between a couple of water conduits and dropping into a dank and long-abandoned janitor’s closet, was a dungeon-like hallway of empty offices and industrial apparata–interesting, but hardly worth the Mission Impossible-like maneuver it took to get there. But an early-decade cleanup of rooms that had gone virtually untouched since the Manhattan project thankfully spared the building’s main attraction (for tunnelers, at least): a single room containing a scattered mess of papers and scientific instruments, in the back left-hand corner of which sat a true piece of Columbia lore: the hulking, oblong outer shell of the cyclotron.
But this adventure is now all but impossible. On a recent visit to Pupin 1 (to use the men’s room, actually), I found that a construction company had moved into the once-abandoned hallway; painting over the generations of tunneler grafitto, and occupying an empty office adjacent to the cyclotron room. It’s hard to say if this is a short-term headquarters for the
new science building at 120th and Broadway, or if the first floor is to be completely gutted and converted into usable space. From the looks of it, Turner hasn’t moved in on the cyclotron‘s territory, but that’s likely not important to adventurous Columbians: with people now working in Pupin 1, it looks like the ‘tron is off-limits, and that a uniquely Columbian tradition will have to be put on hold.