17. Occupy Low Memorial Library

The unmistakable centerpiece and face of Columbia, Low Library was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991. It was built by then-university President Seth Low. The library was designed in a neoclassical style, loosely based on Rome’s Pantheon. Its windows are modeled after the Baths of Diocletian. Its entryway boasts busts of Athena, Zeus, and Apollo.

Though not exactly an off-the-beaten-path destination, Low has some history of occupation that Columbia would certainly like to keep under the radar. During 1968 protests, students occupied Low, barricading themselves inside the building. Still, news sources like WKCR, the radio station, and the Columbia Daily Spectator were able to report from the inside, leading to suspicion that students were reaching the building through Columbia’s legendary tunnels. (This was before the cell phone era).

In what felt like an echo of protests past, 35 students from Columbia Divest for Climate Justice occupied Low for five days in April 2016. The group advocates for Columbia’s divestment from all fossil fuel companies, 200 of which fund a large part of Columbia’s endowment. Students sat outside the current president Lee Bollinger’s office, and the university eventually put a lockdown on the building, drilling windows shut, putting an end to food supply, and preventing more students from entering. The students who remained were threatened with suspension, and received support in Tweet form from ex-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Eventually, the university president agreed to speak to the students. In March 2017, Columbia announced its divestment from thermal coal companies, though it continues to receive funding from other fossil fuel behemoths.

Got a problem with how Columbia’s being run? You’re not alone—and Low is a great place to make your opinions known.

For more, check out The Top 15 Secrets of Columbia University in NYC and 15 Must-Visit Places in Morningside Heights, NYC: An Untapped Cities Guide