Life is hard at Columbia. Which means that everyone here could use a good cry every now and then. But space is at a premium here, which means that finding a quiet spot to emote in peace—much like finding a place to hook up—can be very difficult. Perhaps you a rising sophomore just learning that your dreams of finding a single next year are slim to none. Maybe it’s 3 AM in Butler and you just can’t hold it back anymore. Maybe you just took your last midterm and they’re merely tears of relief. Bwog’s resident cry expert has taken upon herself the duty of trying out some of the more promising spots on campus and reviewing them for future reference. And in case you find yourself out of Morningside Heights for some strange reason, this was actually inspired by the NYC Crying Guide .
In front of Low Library.
This would be an example of when NOT to cry on Low steps.
This may seem a bold choice to some: they’re swarming with people this time of year, and it’s probably the location on campus where you have the highest likelihood of ending up in someone’s tourist photos. But trust me on this. On three (3!) separate occasions I have managed to pull of the feat of crying on Butler steps. It is good to note that you should try to do it moderately late at night, during the winter months, and possibly during a rainstorm and pretty much no one will interrupt you. It is actually quite peaceful: the lights of Butler shining in the distance reminding you of the work you should be doing, the party goers wandering by oblivious to your existence, the rather uncomfortable coldness of the rock steps underneath you. Just don’t sit above Alma: after midnight Public Safety will come over to tell you to get off the steps.
Verdict: When you need to be DRAMATICALLY morose. Think Bright Eyes.
Any Stairwell above the 5th floor
Pictured: the stairwell to nowhere in Chandler
At first this might seem like an obvious, excellent choice. Do not be fooled. While judging by the clusterfuck that is the Hamilton elevator Columbia students try to avoid stair climbing at all costs, you would be surprised at how busy any library stairwell gets on a given day. It should be some law of nature: if one decides to retreat to the Butler stairwell to cry, then some fool wearing heels will need to stomp their way back and forth between floors 5 and 4 for no apparent reason. Also, depending on how loud of a crier you are, remember that sound carries. Perhaps one might have better luck in less-trafficked buildings but let’s be real: this is basically the utilitarian choice of crying retreats.
Verdict: Avoid at almost any cost (unless your other option is crying in class/the Ref Room.
The Lerner Nest
Cold and precise, like your professor as they grade that paper you should not have asked for an extension on.
This was a real sleeper hit. It’s hard to get to, and you kind of feel like your are floating in a very boring and slow moving spaceship, but it is actually a pretty great place for a subdued weekday cry. Not only will your sobs be covered up with the ambient noise of underclassmen echoing off the glass, you should really remember that no one wants to look up at the ramps and so no one will look up at you either! Once upon a time I would do all of my physics psets up here, so maybe I just have some lovely memories of E&M forever associated with the spot, but I would seriously vouch for this as one of the few reasons to enter Lerner Hall. And hell, if life itself isn’t enough to induce tears, pick up some shitty Ferris pizza and check your (empty) mailbox and you’ll be bawling in no time.
Verdict: There is literally no other reason for this to exist, so I will just assume that it was designed with this purpose in mind.
The Taint Gate
Between Wallach and Hartley
Seriously these bars might as well be an invisibility cloak.
The only people who will interrupt you are LLC-ers going to and and fro between Hartley and Wallach. So if you want to make freshpeople uncomfortable, go for it. It smells vaguely of laundry and is plenty dark and lonely. If you don’t live here, there is a high probability that you will not run into anyone you know (to the people passing by outside, you are literally invisible). I am not sure if I would recommend it to anyone, but it’s certainly not the most offensive choice. Better than a Butler stairwell, worse than your dorm room. Don’t go out of your way to cry here.
Verdict: It’s called “the taint gate” was I really expecting something that could match my melancholy?
116 and Riverside Park
Lonely and lovely. Sigh.
Saving the best for last. It is a bit of a trek from campus, and the walk back up the hill from the park might just make you start crying again. But this spot, just off the running trail in Riverside Park at the 115th street entrance, might be the Holy Grail of crying spots. The only people who will disturb your peace are too busy trying to keep jogging to notice the tears streaming down your face, there is a wide selection of benches and ledges to perch on, and of course the river is just through the trees. I tend to pace around a bit while I cry, so the walk down to the park helped to dispel some of that nervous energy. Go there at sunset so you can also instagram the juxtaposition of nature’s beauty and the New Jersey horizon. Maybe the “likes” will fill the emptiness inside you.
Verdict: I felt like Raskolnikov pacing through the streets of St. Petersburg.
- A group study room in NoCo, for when you want to be in a literal glass case of emotion.
- The second floor of SIPA, if you can manage to find it
- In the back of Ferris upstairs, if you can be discrete/have no shame
- The secret storage hallway behind the squash courts in Dodge, for post-workout angst
- Outside of Prezbo’s house, for when you feel like an extra in Les Miz.
- Little crevice outside Carman before Lerner, for when you need to get away from your roommate.