UT Austin Tower

Written by
Sweet John

UT Austin Tower

As told by
Sweet John
The UT Tower is THE landmark for the University of Texas.
Best time of day:

What everyone knows

When you ask about the University of Texas you will always hear about three things; Longhorn Football, how the school song, "The Eyes of Texas" sounds like "I've Been Working on the Railroad", and the UT Tower. Every time there is a Longhorn athletic victory the tower is lit up in burnt orange to let everyone know to throw up the Hook 'em Horns gesture!

What they don't tell you

When the tower was the university's library, the librarians would wear roller skates to quickly grab the books students needed. It made being a librarian awesome! We like to think this is how the idea for roller derby started, but don't quote me on that. Also the UT Tower holds 56 carillon bells making it the largest carillon in Texas. The bells alert the university to the time with automated chimes every 15 minutes but once a week the students on the Carillon Guild get together to play a song on a console inside the tower that looks like a piano with levers instead of keys using their hands and feet. You never know what you might hear as they've played The Little Mermaids' "Under the Sea" to the theme to Super Mario!

Do it like a local

You can buy tickets to get to the observation deck on the top but don't bring anything you that you wouldn't take on a plane as you will go through a security checkpoint.

For the History Buffs

The 307 foot tall UT Austin Tower was completed in 1937 and was designed by Paul Cret, a French-born architect. Built from Indiana limestone it is considered to be the university’s most distinguishing landmark and as a symbol of academic excellence and personal opportunity.

The tower was originally designed to be the university's library and was the home to all of the university's books. Students would put in their requests for books in pneumatic tubes and then would wait for them to be delivered by a dumbwaiter. As the university and its library grew the Undergraduate Library and Academic Center was built in 1963 to take over that role and the administrative offices moved into the tower.

The UT Austin Tower is also known for one of the earliest and deadliest mass shooting tragedies. In 1966, a lone gunman took the lives of 14 people and wounded 31 others from the tower's observation deck. This prompted the closure of the observation deck until 1967, but then it finally closed for good in 1974 but reopened in 1999 with added security and safety measures and remains open to the public today.

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