Yale University

Yale University information

New Haven , USA
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www.yale.edu
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Lonely Planet review

Each year, thousands of high-school students make pilgrimages to Yale, nursing dreams of attending the country's third-oldest university, which boasts such notable alums as Noah Webster, Eli Whitney, Samuel Morse, and Presidents William H Taft, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton and George W Bush. You don't need to share the students' ambitions in order to take a stroll around the campus, just pick up a map at the Visitors Center or join a free, one-hour guided tour.

The tour does a good job of fusing historical and academic facts and gives you the fascinating background of James Pierpont's 1702 religious college, which was moved to New Haven in 1717 in response to a generous grant by Elihu Yale, for whom the university later changed its name in 1887. You'll also pass by several standout architectural flourishes including Phelps Gate on College St, the modernist Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library and Yale's tallest building the 216ft Harkness Tower from which a carillon peals at appropriate moments throughout the day.

Although the tour overflows with tidbits about life at Yale, the guides refrain from mentioning the tombs (secret societies) scattered around the campus. The most notorious of them, the Skull & Bones Club , founded in 1832 is at 64 High St. Its list of members reads like a 'who's who' of high-powered judges, financiers, politicians, publishers and intelligence officers. Stories of bizarre initiation rites and claims that the tomb is full of stolen booty like Hitler's silverware and the skulls of Apache warrior Geronimo and Mexican general Pancho Villa further fuel popular curiosity.