Thursday, January 11, 2024

The Tunnels of Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), Chicago, Illinois.

The University traces its history to Chicago Teachers College (now Chicago State University), which, as Cook County Normal School, was founded in 1867 to train elementary and high school teachers. The Chicago Teachers College (CTC) established the Chicago Teachers College (North Side) branch in 1949. The school relocated to the present site at North Park, Chicago, in 1961 and changed its name in 1965 to Illinois Teachers' College: Chicago North, when control of CTC passed into the hands of the State of Illinois.

In 1967, the Illinois Legislature acted to remove the title of "teachers college" from all state colleges and universities, and the college became Northeastern Illinois State College.
Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 North St. Louis Avenue, North Park Community, Chicago, Illinois.
In 1971, the school became Northeastern Illinois University after it was granted university status and was given a mandate by the Illinois Legislature "to offer such courses of instruction as shall best serve to qualify teachers for the schools of the State; and to offer such other courses of instruction, conduct such research and offer such public services as are prescribed by the Board of Governors of State Colleges and Universities or its successor."

In January 1996, Northeastern Illinois University established its own board of trustees.

The basement tunnels that connect Lech Walesa Hall to the Student Union and other buildings on campus make traveling easier at NEIU. Students and staff can access specific tunnels to skip the cold walks between buildings.

Discovering the tunnel connecting Lech Walesa Hall (LWH) to the cafeteria took half a semester. The first time we attempted to go through the entrance, we turned right back around. We'll admit to being afraid of walking through the unknown space and getting in "trouble."
A Tunnel at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), Chicago, Illinois.

One occasion, we saw a group of students walking to the tunnel entrance. We were very blatantly following them. Despite this, our curiosity to discover where the tunnel led was stronger.

The offices and lounge area became apparent in the distance when we reached the first crossroad. It was like we had discovered another world. The cafeteria came into view as we walked and passed the second crossroad.

Since then, using the tunnel between LWH and the cafeteria has become a part of our daily routine.

The best way to travel through the tunnels is with an expert or a buddy. Our expert, Catherine Duffy, NEIU's Program Administrative Assistant, was more than willing to give us a tour of the tunnels. We met Duffy while walking through the tunnel closest to the cafeteria and into the Office of Student Employment hall.

We also met Beverly Projansky, Staff Clerk in the Office of Student Employment. Projansky, an NEIU alumna from the graduating class of 2000, recalled the blizzard of '99. "It was great for students if you figured out the tunnels," she said. "You would cross from Lech Walesa Hall through the Student Union to avoid going out."

Most students have become familiar with the shortcut during the harsh winter months.

Duffy walked us through the LWH tunnels leading into the cafeteria. The first connection is uninterrupted until you reach the first crossroad. On the left, you will see a short hallway with some organization offices; on the right, you'll see the maintenance hall. "It's not a good idea to mess around in the tunnels. Even contractors get lost," said Duffy.

If you continue straight, the Student Health Services office is on the right, and the leadership and organization offices are on the left. The lounge is just ahead, and more student organizations and media offices are tucked inside.

Although most tunnels contain storage and electrical rooms, Duffy gave us helpful hints. From the basement of Building C, students can ascend the building by taking the elevator or going up the stairs. "The elevator stops working after 5:00 PM," said Duffy. "And there is a receptionist on every floor."

The opposing tunnel of the Office of Student Employment holds the mailroom, shipping and receiving center and the Production Technical Services. On the first floor, you would find yourself in buildings E and F near the Art Gallery outside FA and by the Stage Center Theatre.

Students Erica Vergara and Jennifer Alvarez visited NEIU before their admittance.

"I knew about the tunnels since high school," said Alvarez of her past high school visits to the University.

Walking through the tunnels is quite the experience. You'll notice a change in temperature and tunnels that become narrow from protruding vents. If you travel through the tunnels, notice the signs outside doors and hallways. Signs that read "Authorized Personnel Only" should be respected.

The tunnels are convenient to those who already use them, so become acquainted with the tunnel system, save time, and follow them.

By Natalie Sanchez and Viviana Serrano

University of Minnesota: named the Gopher Way. The University's tunnel system began in the 1920s when the first one connected the Nolte Center and Northrop Auditorium. SEE MAP. 

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: Their tunnel system, officially established in 1954, is extensive and well-documented, connecting many campus buildings.

Purdue University: Their tunnel system, developed primarily in the 1960s, became integral to campus connectivity and even includes a "tunnel tour" program.

University of Massachusetts Amherst: Construction of their tunnel system began in the early 1960s, expanding over time and becoming a prominent feature of campus life.

Edited by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

1 comment:

  1. Wright State University in Dayton, OH also has an extensive tunnel system that connects all buildings (I think), and is touted as making the campus particularly accessible for differently abled individuals.


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