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UC Berkeley trivia you might've missed on your campus tour

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AUGUST 02, 2019

It seems like every other person on UC Berkeley’s campus this summer has been on a campus tour. On these tours, visitors and prospective students learn lots of critical information about our school, but the most important topic covered is probably campus trivia. Curious? Here are five UC Berkeley trivia facts you might’ve missed on your campus tour.

We’ve got bears of all sizes.

Ever wondered where you can find the biggest and smallest bears on campus? At 10 feet tall, the bear statue in front of California Memorial Stadium (across from Haas) is one of the biggest on campus. Further west, nestled in the details of the balcony railing just above the main entrance to South Hall, sits the tiniest bear. Take bets with your friends on who can find it first! 

Real bear cubs preceded Oski.

Before we had Oski, we’d use real live bear cubs as our mascot at big events. The last real bear graced the football field in 1941. After that, Oski stepped into his role as the official mascot. He may not be a literal baby bear, but we still love him.

The Campanile is big. Like, really big. 

You might’ve already known that the Campanile, officially named Sather Tower, is significantly taller than Hoover Tower (take that, Stanford). But did you know that it’s actually the third-tallest bell tower in the entire world? Plus, its carillon consists of an impressive 61 bells, the biggest of which weighs a whopping 10,500 pounds. That’s the one that we hear tolling on each hour.

There’s stuff hidden everywhere.

You wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at it, but the Campanile houses a bunch of fossils excavated by the department of integrative biology over the years. On the other side of campus, thousands of artifacts belonging to the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology are stored underground beneath the museum. Included is the second-largest collection of human remains in the world — just underneath Hearst Gym’s North Pool lie the bones of hundreds of Native Americans.

We’ve got a creepy system of subterranean steam tunnels.

Have you ever stepped over a grate on campus and gotten a surprise attack from that mysterious underground steam? Those grates lead to underground steam tunnels that were originally built to generate power for the campus. During a protest in the 1960s, students locked the door of the chancellor’s office from the outside, trapping him inside. With no other choice, the chancellor allegedly escaped the building through these underground steam tunnels. 

To jaded students, this campus can sometimes seem dreary. But when we consider all its quirks, we’re reminded that our campus is more than just home to the libraries we pull all-nighters in. So next time you’re walking to class, try to look at the campus the way you did when you took your first tour. Stay curious. There’s always more trivia to learn.

Contact Margo Salah at [email protected].

AUGUST 02, 2019