Small World

I’ve been looking at some of the many changes to Princeton, as I get the chance between sessions at the conference. A significant one for me is that Small World Coffee has really thrived and grown significantly. I can’t over emphasize how big a deal the place was to the lives of many in Princeton when it opened in 1993. Believe it or not, there was no real cafe in Princeton when I arrived the year before. The arrival of small world was a huge deal. It meant not just decent coffee, but a gathering place, a place to hang out, and a little art and performance space. Such places existed before, but on campus, and mostly for the benefit 20140625-075311-28391849.jpgof the student population. I was not a student at Princeton, although many of my friends were, so although I went to such places as well it was nice to be in a cafe that was part of the actual community that was the town of Princeton. Several postdocs loved that the place opened, and we went there a lot. Perhaps it helped balance out the ratio of trips up to New York to choosing to stay in town… Ok, just a little bit, but a significant amount. I remember my friend (and fellow IAS postdoc and neighbour at the time), Marc Kamionkowski, playing his saxophone there (sometimes putting on his “Cat in the Hat” hat for a number – he may not forgive me for mentioning this), and I’d go along to support him.

I sat there yesterday and was pleased that the expanded seating at the back meant lots of nice vistas from which I could look at other patrons without being too obvious about it, and carry out a fine cafe tradition – sketching people. I was able to get a nice sketch of a woman who had a fascinating face. (She came and sat in the perfect position just after I gave up on another sketch because that person had left…)


Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Small World

  1. Mark Peifer says:

    Looks like we just missed one another. Was Abel Bagel still in operation when you arrived? I was a postdoc in Princeton from 1988-1991 and it was highpoint. I actually loved Princeton in many ways, because if you went west you were out in the country almost immediately. I spent quite a bit of time birding and wildflowering in the Institute Woods as well, which was probably your backyard. For me, NYC, even though a short Dinky+Train ride away, was good for an occasional adventure but not a necessary part of life.

  2. Mark Peifer says:

    I just read your previous post about the Strings Conference and noted another strange connection–one of our friends while I was a grad student in Boston was the pianist David Witten, who is Ed Witten’s cousin.

  3. Clifford says:

    Great connections. Perhaps the cafe and this post are called “small world” for a reason!

    Not sure about Abel Bagel. Sounds vaguely familiar though…


  4. Pingback: Strings Talks - Asymptotia

  5. Pingback: Café Talk - Asymptotia

  6. Clifford says:

    Mark Peifer – Yes, I just remembered (randomly, today) that I did go to Abel Bagel… A lot! I really liked it there. Somehow I blanked on it when you first asked.



  7. Mark Peifer says:

    I love Chapel Hill but it is desperately missing a real bagel place–even though growing up in Minneapolis i’d never heard of one, I became hooked living in Boston and Princeton . If you’re ever in Cambridge MA check out S and S Deli in Somerville’s Inman Square