Last year, members of Columbia University’s Urban Landscape Lab aided in the launch of an interactive exhibit, known as Safari 7, exploring the interaction of architecture and natural ecosystems along the number 7 subway line. I mention this because each time I recall the exhibit or happen to travel on the 7, I remember the life teeming along that line. The tenacity of wildlife in this city never ceases to amaze me. For God’s sake, Queens has urban chickens. Trite though it may be, I sometimes stop while strolling the campus at night, to catch the faint twitch of life in the bushes. But it is only sometimes that I stop to wax poetically over the success of life springing from the concrete. And there is more than occasional life—less than beautiful life—lurking on campus. Although, from the way the University treats it, you would never know.
Unfortunately, some of the sturdiest creatures in an urban environment happen to be some of the most disgusting. These critters— mice, rats, cockroaches, pigeons, bedbugs—also happen to have the easiest access to our dorm rooms. Proud as I may be of the ability of a mouse to sneak into my building, I am never glad to find one scurrying over my foot in the middle of the night in McBain. To a certain extent, one must accept such things when living in New York, but, disturbed as I have been of late by recurrent outbreaks of mice and other critters in McBain, I have gotten to thinking about vermin at Columbia. As a result, I have come to the following conclusion: through some odd strain of luck, Columbia has become an ideal breeding ground for critters.
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