2. Princeton University Campus
Princeton University is steeped in history and has a roster of accomplished alumni and famous faculty. Thomas Jefferson’s VP Aaron Burr, who famously dueled and killed Alexander Hamilton, founded the university and remains buried in the town cemetery. James Madison, Woodrow Wilson, Michelle Obama, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Jeff Bezos are also all alumni. F. Scott Fitzgerald didn’t graduate, but based his debut novel This Side of Paradise on his experiences there. Cornel West and Joyce Carol Oates are faculty members, and Albert Einstein lectured frequently while living here. It’s all very impressive.
But I can read about the history from my apartment. For me, the best part of the university is the stunning architecture. Nothing can simulate physically walking under its rib vaulted arches, or staring up at its spires and elegant facades. It’s a truly transportive experience and feels both like walking through the past, and walking through fantasy; some sort of mashup between european villages and Hogwarts.
The campus is also littered with fantastic sculptures. Alexander Stoddart’s statue of John Witherspoon sits next to the rather magnificent University Chapel. Near the football stadium, Richard Serra’s “The Hedgehog and the Fox” creates enormous, parallel, pathways that morph the sounds of anyone walking through. Somewhere on campus, you can find one of Yayoi Kusama’s famous pumpkin statues. And of course, there is is James Fitzgerald’s Fountain of Freedom – which is now also permanently lined by Ai Wei Wei’s massive zodiac heads. The fountain is a popular meeting place in the warmer months, and brings me back to my many summer afternoons sitting in the sun doing homework, watching kids splash around. In the off season I love being able to see it up close while staying dry.