First Stop: The Main Mall

First things first, welcome to The University of Texas at Austin!

Today’s blog post subject is one of the most iconic spots on the Forty Acres: the Main Mall.

The University of Texas Main Mall during a passing period in April 2009 using High Dynamic Range technique
(Photo: Randy Drevland)

The Tower is 307-feet tall and houses an observation deck at the top that offers a panoramic view of the UT Campus and the gorgeous city of Austin. A lot of people don’t know that when the Tower was being built the University required approval from the Texas Capitol and was instructed not to build the Tower taller than the Capitol building. What The University did not tell them was that they were going to build the Tower on a 7-foot hill, so, as it stands, the Tower actually appears to be 3-feet taller than the Texas Capitol.

The Tower houses the Kniker Carillon, a musical instrument that chimes every 15 minutes. The Carillon has 56 bells and is the largest carillon in Texas. It is played every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 11:50 am and is a treat to listen to as you’re walking across campus. The Guild of Student Carillonneurs, one of many UT student organizations, performs mini-concerts weekly on the Kniker Carillon as well as giving a larger concert at least once a semester. Students can even request songs by sending an email to address

The Main Building in the above picture was completed in 1973 and currently houses administrative offices like that of University President Bill Powers, Vice President, Registrar, Admissions, etc. In addition the Main Building houses the Life Sciences Library which is just 1 of 17 libraries on campus!

My personal favorite part of the Main Mall is that at The University of Texas, your four years both begins and ends on the Main Mall. Each August on the night before classes begin, new students from all colleges and schools are invited to gather at the Tower to attend Gone to Texas, the official program to welcome new students to The University of Texas at Austin. The fun-filled program includes live performances, an official welcome by President Powers, presentation of the Gone to Texas video contest finalists and an announcement of the winners, special guest speakers and presentations, and a finale featuring the Longhorn Band. Personally this is my favorite tradition at UT! At the end of Gone to Texas the Tower will light up burnt orange and the lights in the windows will create the number of your graduating year–which for me was ’16. The next time you see that number lit up on the Tower is four years later when students gather for the University-wide commencement ceremony at the Tower, which is why we say that your four years at UT begins and ends on the Main Mall!

Gone to Texas 2012

The University of Texas Tower after Gone to Texas in 2012 lit up burnt orange with the year 2016 to signify the start of the year for students who will graduate in 2016. (Photo: The University of Texas at Austin)

University of Texas students, alumni, and faculty gather on the main mall for the 26th annual Hex Rally in Austin, Texas

Texas Sprit Squad during Gone to Texas in the fall of 2012 to welcome incoming freshman to The University of Texas at Austin. (Photo: The University of Texas at Austin)

Finally, another one of my favorite things about the Main Mall is that you can always see the Texas Capitol in the distance! In fact, Texas law prohibits blocking the view from the Tower to the State Capitol downtown. So whether you have an internship or just feel like being a tourist, the Capitol is right in your backyard!


A view from the Main Mall of students walking on The University of Texas at Austin campus with the Texas Capitol building featured. (Photo: The University of Texas at Austin)

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