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Wharton Student Horrified by Immobile Staircase


Photo by Sam Holland / The Daily Pennsylvanian

Credit: Sam Holland

Wharton student Mary Atkins recently entered David Rittenhouse Laboratories for a math recitation and was horrified to find that she had to walk herself up the stairs rather than stand on the stairs as they carried her upwards.  

Mary told UTB about her adversity: “I’d never seen anything like it. I was like, ‘Wow. This is how these people operate?’ I can’t believe I had to exert energy to move upwards in a building. I mean, don’t get me wrong — I crushed those stairs, just like I excel at every other thing I’ve ever tried, but it just seems so tragic.”

The DRL stairs have a fascinating history. They were first built for a nearby penitentiary in the early eighteenth century, but that penitentiary deemed the stairs too ugly and prone to collapse to service the prison, so the stairs were transported to directly east of Center City, where they say without a larger structure for a hundred years, until the University of Pennsylvania moved to West Philadelphia and constructed the campus, as we now know it, around the rusted cast-iron stairs from the penitentiary.  

Mary understands the charm but still doesn’t love the idea.  

As she told UTB, “I just don’t get why stairs still exist. Like I get it for people who live in villages or farms or whatever, but for those of us who grew up in skyscrapers, which is obviously most of Penn, stairs are really challenging and, quite frankly, horrifying.”