Princeton has a lot of gargoyles. As students we don’t notice much, staring at our phones while we walk to class, but we are surrounded by stone animals doing crazy shit.
Technically, Princeton’s gargoyles aren’t really gargoyles. Gargoyles in its literal sense refers solely to sculptures that sprout from gutters and are used to convey water off of building surfaces. Those types of gargoyles were mostly popular in the medieval era and have kind of gone out of fashion in the past few centuries, along with other items of the time period like tunics for men. Instead, most gargoyles fall more accurately under the categories of chimeras and grotesques, sculptures attached to building surfaces that serve only an aesthetic purpose. Princeton has a lot of these.
Below are photos of some of Princeton’s best. Hopefully, next time you’re walking around campus, you will look up from your iMessage or Twitter or Facebook and find yourself staring at a monkey with a camera. It turns out, this gargoyle above 1879 arch was sculpted by Gutzon Borglum, the same man who sculpted Mt. Rushmore.
These tigers outside McCosh Hall appear to be unphased by the snow. Their majesty is only challenged by that of the adjacent A/C unit.
And on the subject of animals, probably almost no one knows that Guyot Hall is surrounded by over 65 animal gargoyles. Yes, you probably just screamed in amazement and disbelief, “but that can’t possibly be true!” but you heard me right. Even cooler, the east side of Guyot, which houses the biology department, is littered with gargoyles of living species while the west side, home to the geology department, is covered by gargoyles of now extinct animals. Some examples include this crocodile:
And this dinosaur head:
And while on the subject of animals, this goat is reading a book:
Moving up campus, attached to the Firestone Library Trustees Reading Room, hidden behind some trees, is this guy playing a flute. Who knew? It turns out there are sixteen gargoyles that line the sides of the reading room.
Right across from Firestone, above the archway of East Pyne that faces towards the library, is this pretty fly gargoyle. Apparently, the gargoyle is supposed to be a metaphor for how the university opens up the eyes and the minds of its students.
But the most famous Princeton gargoyle resides in the graduate college. Called the “Joy Ride,” it shows a young man, assumedly a student, driving away in a car with his date by his side. It was so famous, it was even the subject of its own New York Times article back in 1927:
And here it is, in all its glory, courtesy of Princeton Alumni Weekly:
If you want to read more about many of these gargoyles, you should check out this book, lined to here as a pdf: