Sterling Library versus the Cathedral of Learning

I am not a student of architecture – except that I like to look at ornate old buildings, and I have a particular fondness for Gothic architecture – but my first thought, when I moved to Pittsburgh and saw the University of Pittsburgh’s “Cathedral of Learning” (yes, that is the actual name of it), I thought, Oh, look, it’s Sterling Library on steroids.

Sterling Library at Yale

The Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh

Inside Sterling – a cathedral of books.

Inside CoL – a large, dark space.

Inside Sterling – books! Lights! Places to sit and read!

The CoL has classrooms, some of which are decorated in the styles of various nationalities, but they are locked during the weekends. And I think it is only the classrooms on the first couple of floors. There are a LOT of classrooms in what is essentially a Gothic skyscraper.

Why don’t they make buildings like this any more?

 

A Day on the Yale Campus

The first half of The Visconti Devils takes place in New Haven, Connecticut. Michael LeClaire works at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. I spent a weekend back in 2004, when I was writing the book, to tour the Beinecke and the Yale campus as I worked on the story. With my trusty but cheap camera in hand, I shot up 5 rolls of film – yes, it was that long ago – in those 2 days. (That is also why Maggie is changing the rolls of film in her camera when they go to Milan – that was what we did back then.)

I will be your tour guide. Please make a neat queue and try to keep up!

And here I am, in front of the Beinecke. There was a mess of construction going on outside, which did not make for good photo-taking.

Another view of the Beinecke. The Yale campus is chock-full of impressive Gothic architecture, and then we get…this.

Interior of the Beinecke. My cheap camera was not quite up to the task at hand. I had been told that the white marble panes – those squares you see at the top of the stairs – glowed amber when the sun shone through them. I visited in July, and it was quite sunny, but they did not appear to be glowing amber to me. I asked the gentleman at the front desk about it. Oh, he said, it really looks more amber and glowing on a sunny winter day. Oh, well, I guess I shall have to use my imagination.

Inside the Beinecke again, still dark. I guess you don’t have to worry about the books’ fading.

Sterling Library. Not far from the Beinecke, and far more impressive – to me, anyway. Too bad I couldn’t have Michael working at this library – it is definitely more his style. But the Cary-Yale Visconti tarocchi deck is in the Beinecke, so that’s where he got stuck.

The University of Pittsburgh has a building called the Cathedral of Learning that looks like the Sterling on steroids. I shall have to do a comparison post later on.

The Payne Whitney Gymnasium. This is where Michael goes to practice his fencing. Another Gothic skyscraper, for lack of a better term.

Over the doorway of the Payne Whitney. The Yale campus is full of gargoyles and intricate architectural details. Everywhere you look up, or about, you find something new and interesting.

Egyptian Revival gate to the Grove Street Cemetery.

“I saw him headed up Grove Street with a very long duffel bag. Naturally, I asked what was in it.”

“Have you been stalking him? You seem to ‘just run into him’ an awful lot. And lying in wait for someone outside the cemetery is not very nice. You could scare the crap out of somebody.”

“I have not been stalking him, nor was I ‘lying in wait outside the cemetery.’ You’re a fine one to talk. Confess, Maggie. How many times have you seen him since last Saturday?”

If one leaves the Beinecke, and heads up Grove Street to the gymnasium, one will pass this gate, of course.

A scene inside the Grove Street Cemetery, not because it has anything to do with the story – just because I like to photograph old cemeteries.

A little dragon-slaying at Yale.

A squirrel hits the jackpot – pizza. Not to be confused with muscle squirrels of Philadelphia.

I’ll conclude our tour with a moody photo of some Gothic windows. Thanks for coming, and watch your step!