Every day, I walk down the hill to class. I walk out the same doors, wave to the same security guard that is always on duty when I leave and pass the same people with schedules similar to mine. I alternate between two routes, depending on what my first class of the day is. On the days when I take the Chevron stairs, I always pause at the top for a moment, even if I’m running late, to admire the Cathedral of Learning. It rises regally above every other building on lower campus, towering over the tallest trees and offsetting the smokestack-like figures of the Towers with its asymmetrical, rectangular aesthetic.
Almost every Pitt student has at least ten pictures of the Cathedral, fondly referred to as ‘Cathy’, from at least three different angles. Those with Instagram accounts post a picture of the Cathedral at least once each season and time of day, using different filters in attempts to set this new picture apart from the other 4,237 pictures of the Cathedral. They take the obligatory back-to-school photo in the last days of summer, another when the leaves start to change color, when the first snow falls, and finally when the trees start to bloom in the spring. They capture it at sunrise, midday, sunset, or at midnight. They take pictures on ordinary days, or at the pep rally before the first game of the football season.
I took this particular picture on a warm fall day as I was on my way to the library with a group of friends for a long study session. We stopped to take pictures of the Cathedral surrounded by the red and golden trees against the perfect blue sky with a few strategically placed clouds as a backdrop. Even though I had already uploaded at least five pictures and saved about a dozen more over the course of the semester, I had to take this one, since it immortalized the extraordinary beauty in an otherwise ordinary Sunday afternoon.
The inside of the Cathedral is even more captivating than the outside. While it does contain ordinary classrooms and floors of office space, its first few floors can make one feel like he or she has been transported to Hogwarts and inspire one to be extremely studious. The view from the top floor is incredible: each side of the building shows a different aspect of Pittsburgh that can be seen for miles. Even after three months or studying there, I am always happening upon new rooms, study spots, or quiet alcoves where I can just sit and enjoy the view of the lawn.
Non-Pitt students don’t understand our captivation with this one building. They ask, why do you only send us pictures of the same tall building? Aren’t there any other tall buildings in Pittsburgh? Aren’t there any other buildings in Pittsburgh? What makes this one so special?
The Pitt student body will never lose its fascination with the Cathedral. It is a source of pride for the student body, as well as for the administration, as it is plastered on every folder, flyer, and pamphlet geared towards new or prospective students, and is also featured on every student’s panther card. We find beauty in something that we could easily take for granted. The documentation of its changing surroundings signify the passage of time, and how something so constant can still have something new to offer from different perspectives.