Hidden Mystique: Secret Spots on Campus

Hidden Mystique: Secret Spots on Campus

Photographs courtesy of Emily Albrecht

Many students seem to view the University of Illinois Springfield campus as a means to an end, a place where they solely attend their classes, socialize and maybe even work and live for the time being. However, it can also be viewed as a place of opportunity and even … mystery. There are a handful of hidden locations on campus which not everyone is aware-hidden gems to uncover while students continue on their UIS adventure.

Part of the intrigue accompanying these locations is that they leave students wondering why they are there in the first place. At first glance, the stairsteps near the bike racks outside of Brookens Library merely look to be a shortcut into the building or a shady place not to wander to at night. The dimly lit surroundings feature walls crawling with dark vines which overlook a nearby parking lot and its glowing streetlamps. When one dares to traverse the steps downward, he or she discovers a stairwell leading to a locked entrance into Brookens. Strangely enough, there is a single empty chair sitting outside of the entrance. Empty barrels are stacked along an inner corner, lined with dirt.

Even though this next location is out in the open, it is often overlooked or ignored by those who pass by it on a daily basis. The original UIS pond, located near the UIS Police Department, has multiple features that make it a place worth exploring for students who enjoy the beauty of nature.

Besides foliage that is easy on the eyes, this pond possesses a small yet steady “stream” of water and a sort of organized chaos in the arrangement of the rocks underlying it. To the left of this stream is a long stretch of rock that is flattened on top, making it an ideal makeshift bench from which to view the scenery. Actual benches, hidden behind stretches of trees to the right of the stream, provide the same. Ducks and other wildlife meander here to the sound of cars passing by. Under the stars, the reflection of lights on the pond is a breathtaking sight for nighttime wanderers.

One of the most fascinating locations on campus, only known in certain circles, is the stairway to nowhere. This stairway is inside of Brookens Library, and its title reigns true to where it leads. No one really knows why it exists or why it ends at a brick wall, but students have sought for years to see if they could discover just that. Instead, these students found solace in the lack of answers and created the tradition to put their signatures on the wall.

Lastly, two more well-known areas on campus are the UIS observatory deck and telescope dome. Star Parties are held to view eclipses, comets, and other interesting astronomical phenomena. According to the UIS website on the Astronomy-Physics page, “The Campus observatory is on the roof of Brookens Library. The door for the observatory is on the southeast corner of the library (the side opposite the UIS fountain) and the door is marked ‘Observatory.’

You have got to go all the way round the corner to see the observatory door. The observatory is through that door and up five flights of stairs to the roof.”

Any student who has attended a Star Party before may vouch for the pricelessness of this experience. Adventure is out there for those who choose to take the climb and catch rare astronomical phenomena here whenever they occur. For more information Star Parties happening in the spring and summer, visit www.uis. edu/astronomy/summer-star-parties/.Albrecht, Emily. Brookens mystery stairwell at UIS. 02 April, 2019.