Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Out of the depths your Marauders did crawl,
replete with the secrets that lie under Sproul.
Then they set sights on the highest locales
And on this brave trek they invited two pals!
So today they present as Marauders four,
scenes from the heights of your dear Swarthmore.
Upon emerging from the murky bowels of Swarthmore, we craved the light of day and the feeling of wind in our hair. Blinking the darkness out of our eyes, we trundled about campus in search of our next adventure. Having spent so much time cramped in small spaces, we desired to stretch our legs, straighten our backs, and reach up to the sky. But alas, the clear, inviting heavens were obscured on all sides by colossal oaks, towers of water and bell, and the mighty bastions of academia. Then, inspiration struck! We decided to climb.
Climbing, however, is hard, dangerous work, so we invited two trusty companions along to support us on the adventure. We quickly discovered, however, that scaling the walls of buildings like McCabe would be a rather silly (and ultimately futile) endeavor, so we whipped out our Marauder’s Map, tapped it twice, and located Mike Boyd of Facilities, who conveniently has full access to all the roofs of Swarthmore. Once assembled, the five of us set off on our journey to the top of the world.
We first set our sights on McCabe: the fortress of solitude; the vast, unyielding monster whose every breath reeks of the lexicon of literary legends and the labors of lucid learners. We entered the mouth of the beast, ascended five full flights of stairs, and emerged into the blinding light of day. A vast expanse of rooftop stretched out before us. Seeking the highest point, we climbed further and eventually reached the peak, where we were greeted with a 360 degree view of all that is Swarthmore. In our humble opinion, McCabe offers the best vantage point, only possibly surpassed by Parrish Dome. Philadelphia skyline, Commodore Barry Bridge, Parrish beach, Alice Paulesian plain, rose garden, Willets, Cunningham fields…you can see it all from the parapets of McCabe.
We next set sail for the rather unassuming rooftop of Kohlberg. The last time that an unnamed member of this group of marauders was on Kohlberg roof, s/he was dancing at 3 AM, drunk and nearly naked, during the first snowfall of the season. It loses some magic during the day, but still provides a nice view of the center of campus.
From here, we spied our next target: the large and deliciously inviting canopy of LPAC.
To our surprise, the roof of LPAC was entirely covered in stones. According to Stu Hain of facilities, this is because LPAC’s roof is secured by a sort of rubber membrane that needs to be held down. There is talk about replacing it with a green roof. LPAC afforded a fantastic view of the Crum; we could see houses on the other side of the creek as the delicate beauty of Lang Concert Hall shone through in the afternoon light.
We turned our attention next to the Science Center rooftop complex. Comprised of multiple, multilevel sections of intermittently-accessible rooftops with jungle gym-style connecting platforms, this was by far the most difficult roof to maneuver. Accessing the lower roof of the Science Center via the observatory area was easy enough, and many students do so regularly for their Astronomy classes.
We explored that level for a while, but then Mike Boyd was kind enough to lead us onto the higher level (next to Dupont parking lot). We entered through the most modern mechanical room we’d seen yet, filled with science center blueprints less than a decade old.
After perusing the blueprints, we made our way up a steel ladder onto a roof in the shadow of the water tower. From the top of the roof, we could see our next destination: Papazian Hall.
Ah, Papazian. Probably the most accessible of any roof on campus (except perhaps Ware Pool?), this is where most young Swatties lose their roof virginity. Made up of two main levels, it offers a nice view of some of the campus’s most vibrant trees in the fall, as well as the perfect vantage point for viewing the setting sun.
Having spent a glorious day exploring the Swat’s campus canopies, we marauders thanked Mr. Boyd and then parted ways.
But as night fell, we noticed a very eerie red light emitting from the Science Center observatory. Curious as ever, we couldn’t resist investigating. Sure enough, when we entered the observatory, we encountered what reminded us of a scene from a sinister cold war-era spy movie. The pervasive red light, the series of electronics lining the walls, the giant observatory panel opened with the milky white light of the moon spilling in. The telescope then whirred to life, pivoting to direct its distant gaze toward an unseen star. Sublime.
With a full day’s—and night’s—adventure under our belts, we headed home, satisfied with our journey, well-stretched, and eager to see what our next intrepid undertaking may have in store.
Until next time!
— Padfoot and Prongs (and friends!)