AskBwog: Why Are the Steps Un-Runnable?
Written by Bwog Staff
Anyone who has ever been late for a class knows that running up the uneven Steps of Low is basically impossible, even for the athletically inclined among us (i.e., not the Bwog staff). Many Columbians and pedestrians alike have puzzled over why the Steps’ spacing is so adverse towards mobility. Bwog’s Megan McGregor reports with answers:
Some tour guides have been heard telling prospies that the Steps were rebuilt after the ’68 riots to make storming Low a lengthy and difficult process. WikiCU also states that the stairs “[serve] as a physical barrier distinguishing academics at the top (welcomed by Alma Mater) from the commoners below.” Although these scenarios sound awesome, they were not the intentions of McKim, Mead and White. According to A Guide to Columbia University, a 1937 CU Press publication, the firm actually designed the stairs (and Low Plaza) to resemble the stylobate of the Parthenon (the lower level stretching 330 feet wide and constructed on a curve rising four inches in the center). The Steps we see today are the originals completed in 1897.
So next time you find yourself sprinting up Low’s onerous staircase, take a moment to appreciate the steps for what they are–not an anti-activist menace but our very own Grecian urban beach.