Hudson BuildingThe signs of spring are everywhere on campus: two students sitting on the lawn listening to a radio, absolutely no frisbees whatsoever, and the season’s first whiff of insanity wafting up from Manhattanville. This afternoon’s distinctive smell is caused by Anne Whitman, the owner of the former Sheffield Farms stable building. The University is still negotiating the terms of a purchase deal with Whitman, which Bwog supposes is why Ms. Whitman is now asking the university to move the building four blocks. [Emphasis added.]

Insanity! Back-of-the-envelope engineering! Poorly Photoshopped site maps! All after the jump.  

The attractive seven-story building, now the home of Hudson Moving & Storage, is built of solid masonry construction, weighing… oh, we don’t know. A billion pounds? While other buildings in the city have been moved (City College negotiations are ongoing on the matter of moving Hamilton Grange into nearby Saint Nicholas Park), something with this much sheer bulk seems a little exceptional. For example, the Sheffield building is fifty feet wide and ninety-five feet deep, according to city records. Bwog is not a civil engineer, but since that stretch of Broadway has an elevated train over it and just three twelve-foot lanes, it seems unlikely that the street can accommodate more than forty-two feet worth of building. Is it still a historic structure if you scrape the sides off when you pull it by the McDonalds?

But wait, there’s more! The lot that Whitman is “eyeing”, according to AM New York, is the parcel on the southwest corner of 125th and Broadway. You might remember this plot of land, as it caused a furor this year.  Columbia is building a new science and math magnet school at this site, which was the subject of a minor dust-up this year when its students were being temporarily housed at a crowded public school on Morningside Drive. Apparently this project would be nixed.

Site Plan

An unnamed Columbia official described the plan to amNY as being “dreamland stuff.” Sounds like somebody doesn’t want their kids to go to school in a warehouse that’s been rolled down Broadway on flatbed trucks (or, hell, helicopters), at tremendous expense. You’ve got to learn to think big.