The Clock Tower on the campus of the University of Texas has been the school's signature structure since it was completed in 1937. At 301 feet, the 27-floor Tower is six feet taller than the Texas Capitol and can be seen from almost any location in Austin. It is a loved and enduring symbol of Austin, yet the history of the Tower is marked by an unspeakably tragic moment in time, more than 40 years ago.
Perhaps I'm showing my age to remember this, but when our tour of Austin went through the University of Texas campus, and I saw the stately Clock Tower, all I could think of was the horrible tragedy that took place there on August 1, 1966.
On that August morning a deranged young man, Charles Whitman, barricaded himself in the top of the tower with several guns and 700 rounds of ammunition. The former U.S. Marine virtually held the City of Austin hostage for 96 tense and unforgettable minutes as he fired in sniper fashion upon random victims. Just the night before, Whitman had shot and killed his wife and his mother. Now from the tower he shot dozens of innocent victims. In all Whitman killed 15 people and wounded 31 others before he was shot dead by Austin police.
The clock tower remains today as a signature spot in Austin, as it was even before the horrific events of that day in 1966.
I looked on the web site for the University of Texas and found no mention of the UT Tower sniper. I'm sure it's something they would rather forget.
The University of Texas Clock Tower Sniper
ITS A HUGE CAMPUS, and there are lots of interesting places to see, both on campus and around the edges. Take your time.
We intended to get to the top of the famous tower, but tours did not start until about March 6th, and we were still in late February. We'll try again.
One of the country's largest public universities - noted for research, public service, and especially its well-financed and highly successful athletic program. Though it is not the most scenic colleg campus I have visited, there are a number of buildings of interest here, and the university's second-most famous landmark, the UT Tower is once again open to the public. (The most famous - the football stadium, of course. This is Texas.)
Its Saturday Afternoon in the winter, not cold enough to stay home, not warm enough to go swimming... what to do?
Head out to Austin's Frank Erwin Center, the home court of UT's Mens and Womens Basketball teams.
Out in front of the Erwin Center, you will see UT's Longhorn mascot. Here Sarah is sticking her tongue out since she went to UT's rival school, Texas A&M.
I'm told that UT Austin has at least 50000 students in attendance, and given its size, I can believe it. It's likely most famous for the clock tower shootings (check out http://tower.jdedman.com/ for more info). We tried to go up the tower--there are tours--but we were unsuccessful as the tours don't run on the weekends.
The Union is an underground facility that caters to college-aged people. There are 12 pool tables, a bowling alley, an arcade, some big-screen tvs, and internet docking stations for laptops. The prices are relatively cheap and it's open very late on friday and saturday (3am). They also have glow-bowling (black lights, lasers, music) which is fun, too. It's nice because it's not so incredibly smoky like other pool halls and most of the people are around my age.
UT Tower is said to be the nerve centre of the University of Texas campus. Built in 1937, it stands 307 feet and is a rival for the tallest structure in Austin. Of late it is more remembered unfortunately for being the spot where a shooter killed 16 people from the tower's observation deck in 1966.
Between 1974 and 1999 the observation deck was closed after several students jumped to their death and only reopened after a stainless steel cage was installed for safety. It is one of the few places in Austin to get the best views of the downtown area and the Hill Country.
On August 1st, 1966 Charles Whitman took to the tower on UT's campus and began a shooting spree that claimed 13 lives. After a few more suicides, the observation deck was closed for years. In the fall of 1999, it re-opened the deck. The cost is $3 for a guided tour, and you will have to go through metal detectors (A good thing, I think). Anyway, it is an important piece of history and Austin's culture.
Just like another city I have lived in (Baton Rouge), Austin is the center of government and has the state university. Don't get me wrong the comparisons end there! Austin has a greater energy to it. It has a non-stop influx of young and youthful ideals from the University of Texas. UT is the heart of the city as far as I can tell. Almost everyone here cheers for the Longhorns, and the campus is right in the heart of the city. All of the cool areas surround the campus, including 6th street and the warehouse district. The major parks are within a bike ride away, also.
Shaped like a large carbine shell, The University of Texas Tower is an Austin landmark. It is in the center of campus and was pretty much the first tall bilding in the city. It is still one of the tallest. There is an elevator that you take up to the top. It used to be closed to the public (Except for UT football players) because of the Charles Whitman shootings and students who would jump off. Recently they welded security bars all around the top to prevent jumping and shooting and have tours that you can go on. The view is fantastic. Inside it is mostly administrative offices, office of the university president, etc. When UT wins a big sporting event the tower is lit up top to bottom in orange floodlights. When they win a not so big sporting event only the top is lit up.
The Tower of the University of Texas was the scenery of one of the most infamous shooting sprees: In August 1966, Charles Whitman climbed the tower and randomly shot and killed 15 people, injuring another 31, before being killed himself. As a result of this and to prevent copycats, the tower was closed for the following three decades and has only recently been re-opened. The tower is located on UT campus and can easily be spotted from most areas around the city. The easiest way to enter is via Guadalupe Street. Don’t be put off by the intensive security at its entrance: Once on top of it you can enjoy a great view over the Austin skyline.
UT: University of Texas - a very well known public university. The campus is very interesting to tour and if you like art (especially modern, but not exclusively) there is a very nice museum of paintings and sculptures.
Littlefield Fountain - University of Texas campus. This was a gift of Major George W. Littlefield in 1933 and dedicated to the 97 sons and daughters of the University who gave their lives in WWI.