Main Building

Historic Site
4stars (4.00)1
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1937-
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Yes
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Yes
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2300 Inner Campus Dr.
Austin
Travis
More Info

The Main Building on the University of Texas campus is perhaps the most recognizable building in Austin other than the state capital. Constructed in 1934, it stands at over 300 feet tall and contains 27 floors. The state capital building stands taller at 311 feet, but given the location on "College Hill" the UT Tower sits about 6 feet above it.

Originally, the tower was planned to house the University's main library with books in the tower sent down by dumbwaiters to students requesting books in reading rooms below. This proved less than ideal and instead the building now mostly serves administrative offices. A Life Sciences library does still reside in the building.

Unfortunately, around the nation the building may still best be known for the mass shooting that took place from atop the tower in 1966. Charles Whitman killed 14 people with rifles while perched in one of the highest points in the city. To this day you can still see some signs of this tragedy in the form of bullet holes in some of the masonry nearby.

The top of tower provides one of the highest vantage points in the city. A number of suicides in the 1960's and 1970's caused the University to close public access for many years. Though the deck reopened in 1999 with added security measures it has been closed numerous times for a number of reasons, most recently COVID-19. Check the official tours page to see when these might open up again.

The Tower is the symbolic heart of the University and its lighting serves as a beacon noting Texas athletic and academic achievements. Normally, the tower is bathed in white light at night. The lighting is changed depending upon the importance of some recent event to the University. A typical football victory will be celebrated by highlighting the very top of the tower orange. Conference championships call for the entire tower being bathed in orange. National championships trigger not only an orange tower but also the number "1" indicated on all four sides by office lights. There are enough configurations and reasons for using them that there is a web page which lists them out.

Atop the tower sits 56 bells, making it the largest carillon in Texas. The bells are not only used to mark the passing of time throughout the day. They even host regularly scheduled concerts. Not many carillons have its own Twitter account.

Photos
Main Building
A look at the tower from the spot where we logged our geocache find. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Recommended Item
Recommended Item The Texas Book: Profiles, History, and Reminiscences of the University
Richard A. Holland
Your price: $34.90 Buy Now
As the University of Texas at Austin celebrates its 125th anniversary, it can justly claim to be a "university of the first class," as mandated in the Texas Constitution. The university's faculty and student body include winners of the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur "genius award," and Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, as well as members of learned societies all over the world. UT's athletic programs are said to be the best overall in the United States, and its libraries, museums, and archives are lauded in every educated part of the world. Texas alumni have made their marks in law, engineering, geology, business, journalism, and all fields of the sciences, arts, and entertainment. The Texas Book gathers together personality profiles, historical essays, and first-person reminiscences to create an informal, highly readable history of UT. Many fascinating characters appear in these pages, including visionary president and Ransom Center founder Harry Huntt Ransom, contrarian English professor and Texas folklorist J. Frank Dobie, legendary regent and lightning rod Frank C. Erwin, and founder of the field of Mexican American Studies, Américo Paredes. The historical pieces recall some of the most dramatic and challenging episodes in the university's history, including recurring attacks on the school by politicians and regents, the institution's history of segregation and struggles to become a truly diverse university, the sixties' protest movements, and the Tower sniper shooting. Rounding off the collection are reminiscences by former and current students and faculty, including Walter Prescott Webb, Willie Morris, Betty Sue Flowers, J. M. Coetzee, and Barbara Jordan, who capture the spirit of the campus at moments in time that defined their eras.Read more