The Way Back: A Tower By Another Name

Unlocking the vault of UT history

During the first two decades of the 1900s, students convened at a lesser-known tower to participate in frowned-upon traditions: vandalism and class brawls. This early campus feature was a water tank constructed to bring water to UT after a flood in 1900 messed with the city water service. Leaky and only ever half-full due to a lack of water pressure, it stood north of the main building.

Classes would throw “painting parties,” climbing the tower to scribble their graduation years on the basin. The tank was also the site of battles between students of different majors and classes, including a 1904 skirmish between law students and freshmen engineers after law students wrote derogatory comments about them on the tower. “All class differences were settled ‘under the tank’ in the old fashioned way,” according to the  1918 Cactus.

In 1915, faculty attempted to stop sophomores from painting “’17” on the tank, but the students fought back. “Eggs rained down in glorious profusion upon the learned pates of the professors and deans,” according to the Cactus. The tower was taken down and sold a few years later. In the Cactus’ farewell to the tank, staff proclaimed: “Stories of what occurred below and upon the tank … will be told and retold as long as there is a University of Texas.”


Tags: ,


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment