Wednesday, November 26, 2014

University of Texas Tower (Downtown Austin)

"Visitors to the Main Building clock tower on the University of Texas campus in Austin who know nothing of its history might well wonder why it has security on par with that of a regional airport. People wishing to enter the tower must do so as part of an organized tour and are cautioned that after doing so they cannot leave before it is over. The hallway leading to the tower elevators is guarded by two armed police officers and a metal detector, and before going through it purses, backpacks, and the like must be checked with tour staff. When visitors exit the elevator on the 27th floor they will see yet another policeman and, when they walk up to the 30th floor and the observation deck, discover yet another one on duty there. The open areas of the observation deck itself is completely enclosed in metal caging with spaces just wide enough to slip a camera through. What is perhaps just as interesting as these stringent measures is that absolutely no reference to them is made at any point during the 50-minute tour. They are based, however, on terrible events that have occurred at the 307-foot-tall tower since it was completed in 1937 and these, and possibly the spirits of the disturbed individuals who perpetrated them, haunt the UT campus to this day." 

That is the opening paragraph to my chapter on the University of Texas Tower in Austin! I actually included a chapter on this infamous structure in my Texas Confidential: Sex, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in the Lone Star State. Below left, an image of the building taken around 1980 by photographer Larry D. Moore; below center, Charles Joseph Whitman, who used the tower as the platform for a bloody rampage; below right, a view of the tower's observation deck as it appears today. 

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