Home to both the oldest building at Yale and some of its newest students, Old Campus serves both as Yale’s historical center and as the hub of its everyday life.
At 9 a.m. on a typical day in early autumn, students unfortunate enough to have class this early stumble blurry-eyed out of Vanderbilt and McClellan halls. They scurry along the flagstone paths that crisscross Old Campus, heading for High Street or Phelps Gate.
The gate, which serves the main portal to the campus, lies underneath Phelps Hall, home to the Classics Department.
On their way, students also pass the aged statues of Nathan Hale, an alumnus turned Revolutionary War hero, and Theodore Dwight Woolsey, the guy with the polished shoe. Woolsey served as president of Yale in the 19th century.
By noon, most Yalies are awake, and many of them end up on Old Campus. A long line of students, like ants going to crash a picnic, thread a path between Linsly-Chittenden Hall and the Elm Street gate.
Linsly-Chittenden, commonly referred to as “LC,” houses the English Department, as well as classroom and lecture space.
This path is the main drag in the afternoon, and student groups know to advertise on this high-traffic route.
An a cappella group has drawn a colorful advertisement for its concert on the sidewalk in front on Lanman-Wright Hall, and an activist organization has draped a sign above the gate to the street.
On the way to lunch, students stop and check their mail and the bulletin boards at Yale Station, the campus post office in the basement of Lanman-Wright.
Around 3 p.m., students who are done with classes for the day bring blankets and books from their rooms in Lawrance, Welch and Bingham halls and camp out in the sun.
Boys who live on the third floor of Farnam put their stereo speakers in the window and blast the Beastie Boys to entertain the masses enjoying the nice weather.
As the sun begins to set, students walk in packs to the college dining halls, underneath the shadow of Harkness Tower. The bells are playing “Boom, boom, boom, I want you in my room,” which sounds odd coming from the Gothic tower.
Professors are leaving their offices in Connecticut Hall, the oldest structure at Yale, to head home for the evening. The building is home to both the Comparative Literature and Philosophy departments.
Later, 9 p.m. finds many students attending meetings in LC classrooms or in Dwight Hall, home to many of Yale’s community service and social justice groups. Some begin a night of studying by taking shortcuts through Street Hall to get coffee at Atticus or Starbuck’s.
Even at 1 a.m., Old Campus still buzzes with activity as freshmen in need of a study break head to the campus snack shop located in the basement of Durfee Hall.
Durfee’s, as the campus convenience store is known, is crowded tonight as students line up to buy frozen yogurt, soda, candy and coffee.
People recognize friends from class and compare who has done less homework that night. Laden with treats, students head back to their rooms or to the library to study.
So ends the day on Old Campus — the center of freshman year at the historic heart of Yale.