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6 Best Spots in Morningside Heights for Peace and Quiet

During midterms, it’s easy to get caught up in the seemingly endless list of tests, papers, and applications. Sometimes, school is so incredibly stressful and the hustle and bustle of the city can somehow make it all worse. I experience feelings like this constantly, so I thought I would suggest some of the best places around campus to tune the world out.

Riverside park

First up, we have a classic go-to of many Columbia and Barnard students: Riverside Park. This park is so convenient that it won’t take you more than five minutes to walk there. It stretches along the Hudson from 59th to 129th street, giving us plenty of spaces to choose from. My advice is to take the stairs down into the park, find a bench, and put your headphones on. There will still be a few people there, but if you ignore the highway next to it and the view of New Jersey across the river, it almost feels to me like I’m in some small town upstate.

4th floor of milstein

I hadn’t been up here until I had already been at Barnard for two months, but it was one of the best discoveries I’ve made on campus! While it is small and can get a bit busy during some afternoons and evenings, the fourth floor is usually a great place to chill out and maybe even nap in a green chair (my personal favorite). Most people don’t feel like walking so far up, which I think is the main reason it’s so deserted, but remember that there’s always the elevator on the north side of the building!

lehman library

I didn’t know the SIPA (AKA International Affairs) building had a library until I stumbled upon it while trying to find my French class this semester, but it is a wonderful hidden gem! It’s located in the basement of the building so it doesn’t have windows, but I usually find it easy to look past that and concentrate on my homework. This library is never crowded and has many tables with high-voltage outlets, in addition to a cool spiral staircase down the middle!

diana center study spaces

On the fourth floor of Diana, there’s a room I walk past sometimes that usually has no one in it and is full of tables and chairs. I’m the type of person who’s happy to do work in empty classrooms (especially those with great views), so I very much vibe with this one. Also, check out the Green Roof on the sixth floor when it’s nice out and you want to touch some grass that hasn’t been covered by a tent!

butler research reading rooms

While I usually go to the third floor of Butler, the fifth and sixth have some great smaller spaces that shouldn’t be looked past! I had to look up their official title, but on the east and west sides of each floor you can find smaller rooms with long tables that are apparently called the Research Reading Rooms. They give off dark academia vibes and don’t normally have many people in them, so you don’t feel the hustle and bustle that Butler normally exhibits.

central park

Although it is Central Park and will seemingly always have millions of people walking, biking, or running through it, the northwest corner is rather wooded and hilly, so it doesn’t attract many tourists or picnic-goers. While I definitely wouldn’t recommend going there when it’s dark out, a walk during the day can be very relieving and make you forget that you’re in a metropolis, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Bring some music or a podcast to listen to and try to get absorbed in the current moment in which you’re in the presence of actually large trees.