Princeton’s Weird Campus

Princeton University Campus

By Hannah Mcdonald-Moniz

By Hannah McDonald-Moniz, Unigo Campus Rep at Princeton

1. a princeton gatesThe FitzRandolph Gates: These gates stand between iconic Nassau Hall and Nassau Street, separating the campus from the town of Princeton.  Freshman walk through the gates for the first time as a class during the Pre-Rade, which takes place during their first week on campus.  During Reunions, which take place around graduation, the graduating class follows previous classes out of the gates, in what as known as the P-Rade.  However, legend has it that any student who walks out of the main gate before their graduation will not graduate—so watch where you’re going!

2. The Yale Bulldog: a princeton bulldogOn the top of the gutter on the back right corner of the Princeton Chapel is a curious sight: the face of a bulldog.  Some rumors have it that one of the architects attended Yale, and decided to put the face of the Yale bulldog on the chapel to spite the rival Tigers.  To a large extent, this myth has been debunked, but suspicions remain, and many Princetonians argue that the truth is of no consequence because on the chapel the Yale mascot appears in its rightful place: in the gutter. 

3. The Buried Cannons: a princeton buried cannonsA curious sight—in the middle of campus at the appropriately named cannon green and next to Whig Hall, there are two cannons buried in the ground, only the butts showing.  According to Princeton lore, the cannons were revolutionary war relics returned to Princeton from New Brunswick in the late 1800s.  Students from neighboring university Rutgers mistakenly thought that Princeton had stolen the cannons from their town, and stole one of them back, precipitating a “Cannon War” in which artifacts were stolen back and forth between the two schools until a truce was called.

4. The Nassau Hall Clapper:  In 1864, a sneaky student decided to steal the bell clapper from the tower on top of Nassau Hall on the night before classes began, hoping that without the sounding bell to announce the start of the day, classes would be canceled the following day.  The theft became a tradition for each freshman class before the start of term.  However, in 1992, after a student was seriously injured falling from Nassau Hall in an attempted theft, the clapper was permanently removed from the bell tower.

5. The Steam Tunnels: After the popularity of the novel The Rule of Four, in which Princeton students play paintball and evade murderers in a network of steam tunnels that connect all the buildings on campus, Princeton students started to wonder—are the steam tunnels real?  Despite the administration’s denial of their existence, The Daily Princetonian did some investigating in 2005 and discovered that the steam tunnels do, in fact, exist, and probably do connect most of the campus.  However, the tunnels are more like crawl spaces, not large enough to run through, and such a tight fit that the scalding pipes are dangerously close for movement.  But students can keep dreaming… a princeton train

6. The Dinky: The dinky, Princeton’s beloved single car NJ Transit train, carries its passengers 2.7 miles to Princeton Junction, on the nation’s shortest regular rail route.  To Princetonians, this quirky little car is a connection to the rest of the world, as it shuttles students off-campus on their way to New York, Philadelphia, and the Newark Airport.  The dinky station is nestled down campus, next to the Wawa, another important Princeton landmark.