Swingin’ Around Yale’s Campus

Some friends enjoying the tire swing in Berkeley College's North courtyard

Scattered across Yale’s campus (and New Haven), numerous swings are found in public spaces. Rope swings, tire swings, swings with old wooden benches, swings from plastic molds—a cornucopia of swinging opportunities, really. Although I think many Yalies appreciate the aesthetic beauty of these playful items dotted across college courtyards, rarely do I see Yalies using them for their actual intended purpose: swingin’. For me, though, when I can’t look at my computer screen any longer, these floating seats provide the perfect respite to escape into a world of my own.

Swing in Silliman Courtyard

In this blog, I’ll delineate my top three favorite places to swing around Yale and hopefully bring more awareness to this underutilized but highly valuable feature of Yale’s campus.

In third place, I am putting the swing set at Scantlebury Park in New Haven. Undoubtedly underappreciated, this classic swing set is the perfect distance away from Yale to forget about your Problem Set due in 48 hours, but not so far that you won’t be able to get back and submit it in time. Additionally, it being a swing set, this location is perfect for bringing a friend, or friends, depending on how many people like being the pusher and the pushee. The one caveat to this swinging space is that there are usually many children around and you might need to wait in line.

Scantlebury Park Sign

In second place, I have a potentially controversial choice, as many people might argue that this swing deserves the top slot. That being acknowledged, I have to put the Silliman College swing in second place. Perhaps the most famous of Yale’s swings, this gorgeous, grandiose swing hangs from an ancient beech tree in the back left corner of Silliman’s courtyard. This swing was a candidate for first place for many reasons: its dramatically long ropes, its rustic wooden seat (potentially accommodating two people at the same time), its convenience and undeniable charm. However, it is subjected to being in second place due to the very thing that makes it so famous: its level of public exposure. Personally, I like to think of swinging as a playful but largely meditative and solo activity. It is meant for my own silly, internal enjoyment. And because Silliman Dining attracts such large numbers (“Silly” brunch is undeniably delicious), I sometimes feel worried that my crush from lecture is going to see me swinging all by myself on a Tuesday afternoon and wonder, “shouldn’t he be busy with something?” Although this concern primarily comes from a place of insecurity (I should swing alone and proudly), it is the reason first place must go to another swing.

Swing in Silliman Courtyard, with Silliman dining hall in background

So in first place, without a doubt, I have chosen the Berkeley College tire swing located in Berkeley’s North Court. Like the Silliman swing, Berkeley’s boasts many positive qualities, but what puts the Berkeley tire swing in first place is the untraditional and charismatically unique swinging experience it provides. Because this swing is a tire, you cannot have much jurisdiction over what direction you are swinging once in motion. After some momentum has been gained, your velocity seems to be in constant flux, allowing for a sense of spontaneity and thrill that other swings on campus just can’t seem to muster. Further, when you have a friend to push you, your capacity to get air is truly unmatched. If that weren’t enough, this swing is in a prime location near Cross Campus, the central hub of Yale, so if I’m in Sterling Memorial Library and itching for fresh air, it is just a stone’s throw away. And despite that, the swing is still fairly secluded in Berkeley’s quaint North Court, contributing to the perfect blend of privacy and accessibility. All reasons considered, I think there is no option for first place aside from the Berkeley tire swing. I can’t recall a time I’ve swung here and not had a good laugh.

Berkeley College North Court tire swing on a sunny afternoon

So whether you’re looking for a break from that essay, or just plain bored, I hope this list provides you with ample information to start your own swinging journey. Always remember: “Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind” - Samuel Ullman.