TC Quirks Episode 2: Why is Finding Your Way through TC like Getting an Enema?

| December 18, 2016

Hello and welcome again to TC Quirks! This week Elliot and Sebastian discuss why Teachers College is so difficult to navigate, that special staircase from hell in Thompson, and other random historical facts about our lovely school. Good luck with any finals you have left and enjoy your Winter Break! You deserve it!

Length: 17 mins 5 secs


[intro music]

Elliot: Alright! Welcome again to the second episode of TC Quirks. Again, I am your host Elliot Hu-Au.

Sebastian: And I am also your host, Sebastian Opazo.

Elliot: Great! So, last week we talked about the craziness of the TC… whatever that thing is named.

Sebastian: Yeah, that portal thing!

Elliot: The portal, yeah. A bunch of requests…

Sebastian: Websites, requests…

Elliot: Craiglist-y types of things…

Sebastian: Spamming, emails and…

Elliot: Yeah. Something that we…

Sebastian: Useless advertisements and post things…

Elliot: Right.

Sebastian: And things that I never read but you kind of do.

Elliot: Yeah. So it’s good! We represent two different opinions about this.

Sebastian: Yeah, I represented the reasonable ones, and you represented…something else.

Elliot: The crazy people! Wasting time idiot. Well, continuing on with looking at the kinds of strange things that go on at Teachers College, today we’re gonna talk about why is Teachers College so crazily constructed, and doesn’t seem to match at all.

Sebastian: Wow! Wow, what do you mean Elliot? I mean, I’ve never… Like, what are you talking about? 

Elliot: I don’t know. It’s just so obvious!

Sebastian: TC is like… It’s one building, right? It’s one consolidated, cohesive unit, isn’t it?

Elliot: Yes, cohesiveness is… not a word that’s gonna apply.

Sebastian: I never notice anything odd about its construction.

Elliot: Do you remember the first weeks you’re in this place?

Sebastian: Oh my God. Seriously like, I remember I had a orientation with all the internationals. One of the activities, like, the activity that took us the most to complete was basically: “If you want to get a coffee, where do you go? If you want to pay your tuition, where do you go?” And we spent hours going around because, I mean, the people from the International Office know already that people struggle trying to find their way here. So of course, that was one of the…

Elliot: One of the first times I had to come in here was because I was living in the dorms. Oh actually just like you, but remember there was a, sort of like a… what do you call those things? Orientation to living in the residence halls.

Sebastian: Oh, I think I was there! In the same one!

Elliot: Yeah, it was in Cowin Auditorium.

Sebastian: Oh no, no, no, no. I’m talking about the one that like, the Community…

Elliot: Oh yeah. No, no, no, not that one.

Sebastian: Sorry.

Elliot: But the one in the Cowin Auditorium, we had to go from that weird back entrance on 121st, from there to Cowin Auditorium and…

Sebastian: Wow, that’s advanced. That’s way too advanced for a new year.

Elliot: Right, even now I would… Like you have to go through, like, three different buildings it seems, a whole bunch of doors and staircases, and it was… I was confused. I was with ten other people and we were like, all confused.

Sebastian: You know, my girlfriend is in Columbia as well. She’s in the Film School. But sometimes, we meet here to study and sometimes we go to the basement to the Games Lab or… The thing is I wasn’t aware of this. But one night we’re going out and I realize that she was recording with her cellphone.

Elliot: Oh, like a video recording.

Sebastian: Yes. So I was like “Oh, what are you doing? Well it’s just that I cannot believe the amount of doors and hallways and intricate passages that we need to go across to get out of this place!” So she made this Snapchat of the whole thing. It’s like, “It’s finals, yow!”

Elliot: I know! It’s like an elaborate thing.

Sebastian: Yeah!

Elliot: So yeah, what we have…because we are good graduate students and we do our research, we have actually a chapter from this book called “The Bicentennial History of Teachers College” written in 1954 by… Crap! I knew I would forget. I’ll figure it out and add it to the podcast.

Sebastian: Come on!

Elliot: Anyway, the chapter we’re reading is Chapter 5. It’s called “Building and Dollars.” And it’s super interesting to us, people at Teachers College, coz it has all this really interesting history. So it is one of the things that…

Sebastian: Yeah, I mean, I found… What I found interesting about this chapter is that it talks a lot about buildings and also dollars, so…

Elliot: Thanks. That’s very helpful. Thank you.

Sebastian: I know. No! I mean it… What they actually do is like, they sort of tell you the story of how the college started as the Main Hall only. And very… like the surroundings weren’t very… there wasn’t much going on outside. And they.. when they started this school, a lot of, like, the needs of the… The infrastructure needed to be expanded so they ran out of space pretty quickly, and they needed to find money to make other buildings so…

Elliot: So what year did the Main Hall…?

Sebastian: Oh my God. I’m explaining it terribly.

Elliot: What year did Main Hall begin? As in opened?

Sebastian: So what year….Good question, Elliot.

Elliot: 1984.

Sebastian: Are you sure?

Elliot: It says here, “Mr. George Vanderbilt purchased a 20-lot there on West 125th Street. The building designated as the Main Hall opened there.”

Sebastian: Okay, okay. Let’s do that again.

Elliot: Okay.

Sebastian: So, apparently the Main Hall opened in 1894. It was the only building at the time. There weren’t many buildings in the surrounding areas. And what started happening is, apparently they run out of space and pretty quickly, they needed an investment to create all other buildings and keep adding so that they could basically attend to the needs of the students. So, am I right?

Elliot: Yeah. What I find odd though is when you read this, the years don’t quite line up. Like, for instance, they say in February of 1893 there was…. Oh, there was a donation, so I guess Macy wasn’t yet built.

Sebastian: No, that’s it. So after they opened, not after. Like before they opened the Main Hall, they already had a donation to create this… the Macy building, which apparently at first was destined to be a manual arts building.

Elliot: And still does.

Sebastian: Yeah! And seriously, because if you go to the basement, you still have a lot of manual arts going on there. I don’t know where the Arts Department base is actually. Is it in Macy?

Elliot: Probably. And there is a museum up on the fourth floor.

Sebastian: Right, right! So I mean some of that legacy is still around.

Elliot: By the way, that building feels like it was constructed in like the 1800s.

Sebastian: Does it?

Elliot: Yeah, it feels so old. Like just…

Sebastian: Well. Yeah. Sure. I mean, they built like… Didn’t they add, like, the high-tech classrooms there not long ago? A couple of them.

Elliot: Oh, that’s true. Well, they have some computer labs, I think, in Macy, which is nice, but overall…

Sebastian: I mean, yeah. But that doesn’t change the fact that the building itself is…

Elliot: Like, Main Hall or Zankel looks nice. It’s old but they keep it pretty well preserved.

Sebastian: Oh, okay. Yeah. Sure!

Elliot: But Macy, I don’t know. That place needs to…

Sebastian: So yeah, I think that apparently… So they built this new hall which opened in 1897.

Elliot: Then, about the time in 1898, the only buildings that were up at the time were Main Hall, or Zankel as we know it now. This thing called Millbank Memorial Hall, which houses the Millbank Chapel now.

Sebastian: Right, right, right, right.

Elliot: Then Macy Manual Arts building to the north and…

Sebastian: Yeah, what’s interesting is that to the east of the Main Hall, there was a lot containing quantities of bedrock and to the west, there was, like, a field of dandelions.

Elliot: That’s weird.

Sebastian: Can you believe that?

Elliot: No.

Sebastian: Like can you imagine it? Something like that in New York City nowadays, like crazy!

Elliot: Yeah, I know. Some random field.

Sebastian: And butter-and eggs-provided outdoor laboratories for geology and botany. Wow!

Elliot: That’s crazy. Yeah, so there are some schools for kids that were also in…

Sebastian: The Horace Mann School.

Elliot: Yeah. And something called this Spare School, which is a little bit to the northwest.

Sebastian: Yeah. Also in 1905, the Thompson Physical Education Memorial Hall was opened.

Elliot: Yeah.

Sebastian: And it was unique in being one of the finest education buildings in the country devoted entirely to the cause of health.

Elliot: So in Thompson, because it was dedicated to Physical Education, had all these really cool kind of physical spaces. Like for instance, they have a swimming pool down in the basement, which is pretty awesome, that apparently not too long ago actually, people could still swim in it. But now it’s been retired, and I’ve seen it actually. It’s just like a big storage room that looks kind of creepy.

Sebastian: Huh!

Elliot: Yeah, it’s kind of cool actually. If you’re ever walking in the basement in Thompson and one of the maintenance people leaves that door open, you should just go in there and just look at it coz it’s pretty cool. But there’s also… in the basement, there’s bowling alleys, plural “alleys.” Yeah, and ball courts and other game rooms that…

Sebastian: Where is that now?

Elliot: Yeah! That, I don’t know. That sounds so cool but might be nothing there.

Sebastian: So later in 1909, the new Household Arts building, which was called, renamed Grace Dodge Hall after, was opened. So it sort of adjoined the Main Hall and extended along on 121st as you can see now. And also, what the newly added Whittier Hall, which is built in 1902, was like connected with the Grace Hall. So you can see that if you go to the Dining Hall, then there’s like a, like you can get to Whittier from there. So everything is, like, start to connect. All the buildings start to connect with each other.

Elliot: Yeah. But okay. So why? They had all these buildings set up, but why didn’t they build them to flow more easily into each other? It’s what I don’t get.

Sebastian: I don’t think they would tell you that in this specific piece. But I mean, one of the interesting things that they had very different budgets for each of the halls. So for example, the Millbank building costs, at the time costed $250,000 to built and equip.

Elliot: That’s it?

Sebastian: I mean, you need to adjust. Lik we’re talking the 1800s.

Elliot: Right.

Sebastian: So they’d probably be, I mean….

Elliot: Millions by now.

Sebastian: Yeah, but if you compare that with, for example, Macy, which apparently was an investment of $350,000. You can see that there’s significant differences, a substantial differences in the amount of money invested. So yeah, and also, the Grace Dodge Hall, originally Household and Arts building, was an anonymous gift of $400,000 for domestic economy building. So I mean, you have different budgets. You don’t really know what’s gonna happen in the future. You’re basically reliant on these donations for the schools. So it’s like, you cannot make long-term plans basically, right?

Elliot: Yeah.

Sebastian: I feel like that’s one of the reasons of the probably… So I mean, maybe they realized “Oh wait, maybe we can connect Whittier with Grace Dodge. That would be a cool idea.” But they didn’t know what would happen in the future with the other buildings. Like I don’t know.

Elliot: Yeah. Well, what confuses me is Thompson. Thompson is the most confusing of all to me because when you look at it and compare to Horace Mann.

Sebastian: That’s true.

Elliot: Right. It makes no sense. Like the hall, the floors are just…

Sebastian: I mean, first of all, why would they make, like, build a building, where if you connect to another building, it’s another floor.

Elliot: Yeah, right!

Sebastian: Why would you go from the third floor of Thompson to Zankel, it’s like in between?

Elliot: It’s like between the second…

Elliot & Sebastian: And the third!

Elliot: Or…. Yeah, yeah. It’s crazy.

Sebastian: So, it’s like what? So why? What was the reason for that?

Elliot: Right. So Thompson was made after Zankel, so why couldn’t they just line up the floors?

Sebastian: Yeah, we’re assuming that Zankel was the Main Hall, right?

Elliot: Yeah.

Sebastian: So yeah, like…

Elliot: That was made first.

Sebastian: That is a poor architectural decision, isn’t it?

Elliot: Yes, it totally is.

Sebastian: Like, even if you’re…Maybe there was a specific need for it? Like remember this, Thompson was the physical education and health.

Elliot: Yeah, that’s true.

Sebastian: So, maybe they have a reason for it?

Elliot: Maybe.

Sebastian: Also there’s this, there’s this weird like… in the staircase…

Elliot: The crazy staircase.

Sebastian: Yes.

Elliot: From hell.

Sebastian: It has like a…

Elliot: That’s what it’s called.

Sebastian: What?

Elliot: The Hell Staircase.

Sebastian: The crazy staircase from hell! Yeah, I remember! It looks like there could be an elevator there.

Elliot: Oh, that one. No, no, no, okay.

Sebastian: Oh, what’s the craziest staircase? Oh!

Elliot: The other one!

Sebastian: The small one!

Elliot: Yes. When the furnace is on that thing, it’s so hot, and you feel like, you could die in there, and no one would ever find you.

Sebastian: Yeah, that is horrible. That is terrible. What interesting question! This is something that I don’t know. But when you see, when you look at these figures inside, okay, this is the budget that they have. Would this be considered a lot for the time?

Elliot: Yeah, I don’t know.

Sebastian: Small amount. How does that compare to main campus’ buildings? Main campus doesn’t seem like they’re messing around.

Elliot: They’re not low on cash over there.

Sebastian: No, of course not. But like, again like, when you see that staircase in Thompson, the hot, like, the boiling…whatever!

Elliot & Sebastian: The staircase from hell.

Elliot: Yeah!

Sebastian: It’s like, who made this?

Elliot: I know.

Sebastian: Did they run out of money? You can barely fit one person on the stairs.

Elliot: Yeah. Well, and different floors are different sizes so…

Sebastian: Are they?

Elliot: Like between, yeah, between the second and the third floor of that staircase, it like, the ceiling drops to, like, almost six feet. Coz I’m not six feet tall, but I have to kind of slightly stoop.

Sebastian: Ho, what?

Elliot: Yeah. it’s weird. That staircase is weird. I feel like that staircase would be a great place to have, like, a Halloween haunted house because it is so creepy. The paint is peeling in there. There’s these windows that just like, show…

Sebastian: If you want to murder someone…

Elliot: Oh yeah.

Sebastian: That’s definitely the…

Elliot: I know.

Sebastian: Okay, cut!

Elliot: Yeah, I’m not editing that! Alright, anyway, we better wrap this up. Thanks for listening everybody. Alright, and I’m Elliot.

Sebastian: And I’m Sebastian.

Elliot & Sebastian: And we are your TC Quirks hosts.

[outro music]