Take a tour of the heart of campus. This piece was previously published in University Guide, the official guide to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Read the magazine online.
Generations of students have enjoyed the Illini Union’s programs, services and resources since the student center first opened its doors in 1941. It’s considered one of the most iconic buildings on campus because of its location, character, quality and use. The Illini Union is the central home for student organizations, meetings, student programs and activities. Many renovations have taken place over the years. Today, the Illini Union contains a convenience store, student performance spaces, a food court, a bowling alley and arcade, and much more.
One of the oldest buildings on campus, Foellinger Auditorium hosts classes, public lectures, concerts and student performances. Foellinger Auditorium is located at the south end of the Main Quad. Since its construction in 1907, Foellinger Auditorium has been a cultural and entertainment center serving two distinctly different functions: classroom and performance. As the largest lecture hall on campus, approximately half of the auditorium’s typical day is devoted to instructional activities. Frequently, it’s also the site of many student productions, lectures and commercial performances.
You know you’re on campus when you hear the stately ring of “Hail to the Orange” from the Altgeld Hall chimes. Altgeld Hall is one of the oldest and most unique buildings on campus. Dedicated on June 8, 1897, it was designed by Professor James McLaren White and Professor Nathan Ricker—the first person to receive a degree in architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and in the United States. One of the notable features of Altgeld Hall is the bell tower. The 15-chime bells weigh over seven and a half tons, with the smallest bell weighing 500 pounds and the largest weighing 3,000 pounds. Performances can be heard of the bells from 12:50 to 1:00 p.m. Monday through Friday during the school year.
Located on the Main Quad, the Eternal Flame offers eternal love after kissing your significant other beneath it. The rumor was: “A lover’s kiss will bring eternal bliss.” The Eternal Flame pillar between Lincoln Hall and the English Building was a gift from the graduating class of 1912. Formerly an ever-burning oil lamp, the flame promised eternal love. Now, the electric light tends to flicker on and off, so students have changed the myth to: “Lovers who kiss underneath the flame are doomed to an on-again, offagain relationship.”
The Undergraduate Library
The Undergraduate Library (UGL) sits underground in the heart of campus. The most frequently asked question about the UGL is why it was built underground. The common answer given by most is that the architects didn’t want to cast shade on the neighboring Morrow Plots, however this is only partially correct. The main reason was to maintain symmetry of the Campus Master Plan at that time. The UGL is connected to the Main Library through an underground tunnel. The Main Library was purposely built away from the center of campus in order to allow the building to expand. Collectively, University Library houses more than 14 million volumes and 24 million items, making up the second largest university library collection in the United States.