Answers to the MIT Campus Scavenger Hunt

This post contains the answers to the MIT scavenger hunt I posted 40 months ago, excepting items in the 16 advanced item expansion known as the “Navigator’s Quest”.

I decided to end this due to changes that have occurred to MIT’s campus, the rate of which has been much speedier than I could have imagined 40 months ago. Buildings have been demolished, buildings have been built, buildings have been renovated, stuff has moved around, and permissions to various locations have changed such that original foundational ideas of the hunt could no longer hold. The Picture Scavenger Hunt, on the other hand, I still plan to run indefinitely, and it now has an established mechanism for pictures that become outdated.

In any case, congratulations to jakobw for the most items found during the duration this hunt was up.

As for the answers, long story short:


I decided to not chart locations that are answers to 39 here on a post on the internet. Ask me in real life for an answer to 39.

There are of course probably many more locations that several of these items can be found at than plotted in the map above.


For item 1, solidly shaded buildings have the floor numbered 0 aligned with the ground. I also accepted buildings just outlined in the map above, though, as those are cases where ground is between floors numbered 0 and 1, but the floor numbered 0 is closer to the ground level than the floor numbered 1.

For item 8, Senior House was my original intended item. When I was designing the hunt, I momentarily forgot about graduate dorms when writing this item. I was later informed that at least Edgerton House among the graduate dorms have both A/C and elevators. Eventually, Senior House closed, but Edgerton House does still remain, so this item had an answer through the end of this hunt, despite this not being true of the set I was originally thinking of.

I parenthesized the Building 8 answer for item 9, even though I accepted it, because Building 1 is a case where the building is the fairly indisputable central home of a course, whereas Course 8 has substantial portions outside Building 8.

For item 20, there’s many tiny buildings that satisfy the item that I did not bother to mark on the map above. Probably my favorite case of this is Building W55, whose bottom doesn’t even touch the ground. (I was actually fairly sad they did not number its singular floor 2, so that MIT could have the amusing feature of containing a building whose lowest floor is numbered 2.) Of course, Building W55 hadn’t been built yet when I published this hunt. Building 34’s lowest floor is in fact 1 because what lies underneath it is actually not grouped with 34. This is in fact the reason for one of the answers to item 33.

Item 21: the Pharos color printer is in W20-575. This is a quite useful thing to know as an MIT student. When I wrote this hunt, though, the Pharos color printer was in 12-182, a room that no longer exists.

Item 24: the elevator services floors 4, 5, and 6. Without additional permissions, though, travel is restricted to oscillating between 4 and 6.

Many mentioned to me that item 29 caused them to realize that the described occurrence (two touching buildings having consecutive numbers) is surprisingly rare. Indeed, if you require pure numbers (thus, buildings on main campus), then the only times this occurs is with 38 and 39, 41 and 42, and 42 and 43. This is very much attributable to the odd/even split of main campus. In other sectors of campus, where such an odd/even rule does not exist, this occurrence is substantially more plentiful.

For item 33, there are two floors at which this happens: floor 0 and floor 6. (Thus, Building 34 exists in a sort of “Fairchild sandwich”.) In both cases, what one might think is part of Building 34 is actually officially (according to facilities’ cataloging and plans) part of Building 36, in floor 6’s case despite a physical marker on the bridge labelling it “34-600”.

Item 34: this occurs in the large basement hallway, a short walk east of Waypoint N in the tunnel system.

For item 36, travel to the 6th floor in either Stata tower, and walk towards the other tower to enter the bridge. Alternatively, take the elevator you answered item 24 with from the 4th floor upwards. Notice that 32-G601 is unhelpfully numbered as such despite being much closer to the D tower than the G tower.

Item 37: note that Building 54 (the Green Building) is not an answer to this item, as although it is the tallest building in Cambridge, its floors are too tall, and shorter buildings with smaller floors actually do achieve having a 24th floor while the Green Building doesn’t.

Item 38: the building off the north end of this map is Building NE123A.

Item 42: This is one of the hardest items of this hunt. From the food acquiring areas of the Forbes Café, look inside the food preparation area. You may notice an elevator. This is Stata’s Elevator 15. It goes between the basement and the 1st floor and is for café staff.

Former Building 30 exists where Building 39 (the Brown Building) exists today, the only instance I’m aware of that satisfies item 44. For a bonus, try to find an old map in Building 38 that attests to Building 30’s prior existence.

Item 45: Look on 32-G8.

There might no longer be any locations that satisfy item 47. Two locations where lipstick stains were formerly findable are indicated parenthesized on the map. In retrospect, this was a bad choice for an item for a long-term scavenger hunt.

For item 48, there used to be two answers, but one of them, Building 12A (which incidentally was one place on campus where you could find NFPA 704 4-4-4), has been demolished. Currently, Building W33 is the only answer to this item of which I’m aware.


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