The Jungle: Demystified

Aerial View of the Jungle, c.1944-1950

In Barnard lore, “The Jungle” is more than a classic book by Upton Sinclair. For much of Barnard’s history, the segment of the campus between 117th and 118th Streets — south of Milbank, Fiske, and Brinkerhoff Halls, just north of Barnard Hall, near the current site of Lehman Hall— was an area of trees and shrubs with a path running through it. This was commonly known as “The Jungle.” Just north of the Jungle, where Altschul Hall and the Diana student center now stand, were the Elizabeth Arden Tennis Courts.

A Barnard promotional brochure from 1953 describes the Jungle as “a grove of trees and flowering shrubs … complete with small lawns, winding paths and secluded benches and tables. Here on a warm day in spring a professor often brings his class for an informal session.”

Groundbreaking of Lehman Hall, 1958In 1958, ground was broken on Lehman Hall, and the western half of the Jungle was lost, much to the chagrin of students. In a letter to the editor published in the Barnard Bulletin on Nov. 17, 1959, an anonymous student complained that “the Jungle could now more aptly be termed the Desert.”

The eastern half of the Jungle remained into the mid-1960s, when it was razed to accommodate the building of the Millicent McIntosh Student Center and Altschul Hall. But while the Jungle and the tennis courts are long gone, they remain a beloved aspect of Barnard’s history.

Written by Maggie Astor ’11

For more photographs of the Jungle, please visit our Gallery.

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