Columbia College (Perhaps) Abuses its Photoshop Privileges

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Bwog operative and newly-minted alum Zach van Schouwen noticed something a bit uncanny when visiting the College’s homepage. The following photo, aside from giving the false impression that the 9 train is still running, which it is not, pictures the subway entrance as a grandiose marble affair, which it is not. (See below for visual confirmation and here for a larger shot.) ZvS also found insurmountable evidence something that might lead us to believe in the subway’s Photoshoppage in the form of what appears to be a 1 and 9 symbol that float in midair behind the entrance, as well as JPG jaggies around the white-on-black text. We just hope the class of 2012 isn’t too heartbroken when they find out what the subway entrance really looks like. The blood is on your hands, Columbia College.

(Reality is pictured at right.)

UPDATE: Some things we’ve learned:

  • The movie poster on the background on the College’s subway is for Bait, which came out on September 15th, 2000.
  • Also, noticed how the One sign in the background hangs off into oblivion. (There is no black background surrounding the left edge of the red circular “one.”)

Stay tuned, as we unearth this mystery.

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  1. environmental alum

    That's not marble, Bwog, it's granite

  2. Help

    Which subway stop is the granite one, really? They probably found a nice one and stuck the 1/9 on there (faking the granite would be a lot more work). I can't recall seeing any such fancy subway entrances.

  3. Alum

    Sorry, Bwog, but I think you're wrong on this one. That seems to just be an old photo.

    IIRC, the entrances used to be dark granite as shown in the pic. I'm almost certain that the sign used to say just "Columbia University" and not "Columbia University Station", which is also consistent with the photo.

    Remember that there are two entrances outside the 116th Street gates -- one to the north and one to the south. The photo is of the south entrance facing north. The "1 and 9 symbol that float in midair behind the entrance" look like they're on the other entrance, which actually is behind this one from the photographer's vantage point. They're right where the sign on the north entrance should be.

    It's possible that the pic is several years old and that the entrances were re-done since then. If I'm right, that would also explain why the sign lists both the 1 and 9 trains.

    Besides, why on earth would Columbia bother to make these changes? The current entrance looks fine, so there's no reason to go to all that effort to change a photo of it.

  4. end of story

    i know the guy in the pic. this is an old photo. end of story.

  5. truth

    The photo isn't photoshopped. The 1 and 9 symbols "that float in midair" are from the other entrance to the subway. And I can't actually see any "JPG jaggies around the white-on-black text".

    Go on vacation Bwog... instead of posting useless stuff like this.

  6. meh  

    it was a valiant effort, but sorry, Zach - a super-sleuth, you are not.

  7. alum

    while this is an interesting notion, i'm not convinced either way. there are four possible places this could be. the two at 116th by columbia, the one at 116th by barnard and the one at 115th by columbia. the marble doesn't look familiar to me.

    discuss. i want this resolved.

    • Alum

      The granite (not marble) looks very familiar to me, and I started using this station before there even was a 9 train. My only question is whether the granite was replaced before or after the 9 went into service. I'm reasonably sure it's the latter. The station was renovated in 2003 so it would be ready by the 250th anniversary, which is when this change most likely took place.

      Anyone who thinks the photo was altered should explain what incentive Columbia had to alter it. The point is to show that CU has its own subway stop, not that the station is made of any particular material. Bwog's current photo shows that the station looks perfectly nice. The other version looks different, but not better. What would be the point of changing it?

      Also, there is only one place this photo could have been taken. The existence of the second entryway in the near background means this photo shows the two entryays on 116th outside the main Columbia gates. (The next stop would be further away in a photo of the 115th Street entrance, and its stairway would be facing toward the photographer.) The traffic on the left shows that the photographer was facing north.

      It's resolved.

  8. hmm  

    I've seen Bwog strikeout errors in posts, but will you strikeout an entire post?

  9. Why do  

    subway stops never change over time?

    They're station-ary!

  10. ZvS

    I emphatically disagree! If we can see the 1/9 in the background, where's the borders of the rest of the sign? And I didn't set foot on campus before 2004, but I have a tough time accepting that they tore out a modern-style subway entrance to replace it with a rusty 1970s-style one.

    If you can't see the JPG jaggies, you aren't really looking. Even if you don't take 'em as evidence.

    • Alum

      Sorry, but you're wrong. I used the old granite entryways regularly for four years and occasionally for many years after that. I know whereof I speak. I can't explain why the MTA made this change (maybe a fence you can see through promotes security; maybe the old entryway was crumbling and the MTA couldn't afford to replace it with something similar) but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.

      Also, the old version was modernist, not modern.

      You can't see the borders on the background sign because there were none. Those signs had a black background that reached all the way to the edge. The edge is visible to the upper left of the 1 symbol, which seems to reach the edge itself.

      You weren't there and I was. I appreciate your skepticism, but you're wrong.

  11. google-fu

    A search of "116th street subway renovations" turned up:

    Both from 2003. So I'd guess they renovated from the photo to what we see today in 03/04, right before most of us newly-minted alums ('08) arrived on campus.

  12. Hey

    Bwog, what's up with these eight shootings at 125th Street?

  13. one sign

    i don't understand how the one sign is hanging off into oblivion...lame bwog!

  14. why would

    you renovate to something much worse?

  15. right  

    why would they change the granite to the green fence?

  16. subchatter

    subchat seems to think it's 66th/lincoln center pre-rehab. i'm not entirely convinced that it's even in new york.

  17. NO WAY  

    Look at the reflection

    the reflection which should be of the 116 is mysteriously curved. Seems as though the station in the image may really not be from 116 at all.............

    it's nice to see bwog go out on a limb. i read it for the gossip anyway.

    love ya bwog

  18. EITHER WAY  

    this is one of the GREATEST mysteries of our TIME

  19. regardless...  

    i'm pretty sure they pulled the picture from columbia's main page. it hasn't turned up for me after refreshing the page at least fifty times. but it's too historically consistent (seemingly) and real looking to be faked, IMHO.

  20. Hmm

    The red circle of the little "1" in the background is hanging off the left side of the black "poster".

    Are there subway letters/numbers on any street level sign that don't disclose the name of the station, which the numbers below the movie poster seem to suggest?

    The timeline re: Bait is right - the NY license plate looks old style with the statue of liberty in the middle.

  21. Hmm

    Nevermind the lack of name - I see the parallax now between the foreground movie poster and background sign through the bars

  22. CATS


  23. Eye

    What about the station sign's reflection in the marble?

    If CU Photoshopped this image, they were extremely diligent about faking proper reflections. Too diligent, in fact, to be plausable, unless they are trying to commit out-and-out fraud.

  24. another alum

    I love the collective short memory of the student body.

    What are the chances this is actually just a really old stock photo, to go along with the really old College website?

  25. ...  

    get used to it. everyone re-uses old photos.

    that said... who the fuck cares if the entryway is granite, marble or solid fucking gold. the one train is still a piece of shit that takes eight million eons to get anywhere remotely interesting.

  26. whoa!  

    who gives a shit?

  27. but

    Look here:

    That sure looks like the same sign in the same context (note the little scar above the right-hand side of the sign in both photos). I'm guessing it was taken between September '01 and '02, when 9 service was temporarily suspended post-9/11.

    Or maybe fencing is in on the conspiracy, too.

  28. Barrio

    Wait until the parents figure out the school lied to them/invented a neighborhood and their kids are living IN HARLEM

  29. sarah


    That subway entrance is real and does exist. It jsut isn't the same one you took a photo of . . . see, things CHANGE. Subways stop running . . . signs are replaced.

    Not Pulitzer for this . . .

  30. Haha  

    Haha ZvS, you are a complete idiot. The subway entrances did look like this for some 30 years at least...

    • ZvS

      I'm not! Look at this:

      This is an obvious photoshop. They took the 72nd street station and made it all grainy and black and white!

      • Alum

        I presume that was a joke, but just in case:

        The 116th station used to have a kiosk in the middle of Broadway, as the photo on the linked page shows. At the time that was the sation's only entrance/exit; it didn't have stairways on either side of Broadway like it does now. The side exits were added (and the kisk removed) in order to reduce the amount of pedestrian traffic crossing Broadway and the accompanying risk of traffic fatalities.

  31. ditto

    this is just what it used to be like.

  32. real skullduggery

    The sign above the east exit says "116th and Broadway, Southwest Corner" but the corner is actually Northeast!

  33. easy answer

    Why doesn't somebody just ask someone from the MTA?

  34. all i'm saying is

    legendary pail.

  35. another alum

    I'm an '03 grad and distinctly remember the granite entrances. Perhaps during the renovation they decided to go with something more rustic and authentic? I did like the granite, and noticed it many times on my travels, but architecturally it doesn't fit. I can't tell how good the new version is, however, as I've not been on campus for a little while.

  36. 05 grad

    yep. that's how it used to look.

  37. alum

    really sloppy journalism bwog. Of course thats an old pic. If you werent so lazy you would have also googled and found out that columbia and mta teamed up to pay for a subway renovation about 3 years ago. thats when the granite was converted to this old style stuff.

  38. interior design?

    not that i'm arguing with whether or not it's the actual station, but who in their right mind would replace a goreous granite entrance with an insanely dingier green fence?!

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