The lofty granite tower is one of the most iconic features on the Berkeley campus.
Rising gracefully above the University of California–Berkeley campus, Sather Tower, better known as the Campanile (Italian for “bell tower”), is the school’s most widely recognized symbol. Opened in 1914, the 13-level, 307-foot column of Sierra granite houses a viewing platform and a 61-bell concert carillon. To hear the bells toll at dusk, notes echoing downhill toward San Francisco Bay, is to experience a classical union of art and education.
From little chimes The first set of bells, installed in 1917, was a “chime” of just 12. Today’s 61 make up a five-octave grand carillon.
Play a Song for Me The carillon is in nearly constant use, with short concerts up to three times daily.
Finals Death March The tune for the Rudyard Kipling dirge “Danny Deever” has been played at noon on the final day of classes each semester since 1930, using only the carillon’s 12 original bells. The carillon then remains silent until the end of final exams.
Fossil Find Sather Tower is home to John C. Merriam’s extensive collection of fossils, including woolly mammoth bones and teeth from saber-toothed tigers.
Photography courtesy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory/Roy Kaltschmidt
This article was first published in July 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
Sather Tower stands on a pedestrian walkway north of the intersection of Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. bit.ly/amJSyX .