A Concert in the Air

“There’s a free concert that starts in 8 minutes,” my friend Tom said, who I was visiting at Cornell University.

“Free?” I didn’t wait another second. Within those 8 minutes, we found ourselves on the top of the McGraw Tower in Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. I’m realizing more and more that I constantly find myself at very high heights- there is just something about an aerial view that causes me to fall in love with a city (more posts to come with me in very high places).

There are 161 steps to the top. I powered through the climb, scolding myself that leg day was the day before at the gym. The McGraw Tower at Cornell hosts a free concert daily, opening up its doors to those who wish to climb to the top and see the concert and spectacular view of Ithaca. The concert is a group of people who play the chime bells that can be heard across campus. It is held in a very tiny room that can surprisingly hold 20 people.

“As you can see, we play without our shoes,” one of the players said before she started. “It’s because of the foot pedals, and it’s a lot easier to play barefoot.” I got to watch them play a duet of the song “Married Life” from the movie Up (I was so happy).


We climbed the last few steps to the top of the tower after watching for a little while. It was chilly and quickly getting dark, even though it was only 5 pm (I spend all of winter longing for the never ending summer nights). There was (almost) a 360 degree view of Ithaca



The wind was blowing and it was chilly, but peaceful.


“Years ago, a prank was played on the tower, in that someone put a pumpkin on the tip of the tower. No one knows how they got it up there,” Tom said on our way down. How the hell did someone do that? I couldn’t hide my shocked expression. I was thinking of all the possibilities- scale the roof and pray that you don’t slip off and soar through the air holding a pumpkin? Maybe it fell out of the sky and happened to land perfectly on the tower? Did someone have some Incredible Hulk strength and throw it? I still wonder.

There are many practice rooms in the tower on the way to the top, as well as little snippets of the history on the tower. It’s definitely worth the quick visit; the views are spectacular. And you get to see a free concert!

Read about the McGraw Tower here:



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