The Campanile is Berkeley's most prominent landmark and is the most important visual symbol of UC Berkeley. It can be seen from the hills of San Francisco, most parts of Berkeley, North Oakland, Albany, El Cerrito, and on a clear day, from as far away as the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Campanile was constructed in 1914 and designed by campus architect John Galen Howard. It is a version of its namesake in the Piazza San Marco in Venice. The square granite shaft has an inset central section with seven small narrow windows. The clock at the top can be seen from any place on the campus.
Above the shaft is an observation loggia with a classically detailed balustrade and three open arches. A Classic entablature supports another balustrade with four corner posts that have pyramidal obelisks capped with bronze urns. Above is a small tower element which terminates in a spiked bronze lantern. The chimes, cast in England, were first played on Nov. 2, 1917.
The Campanile is set on a raised podium that contains an esplanade extending north from the entrance to the tower. In the center of the esplanade is a drinking fountain and four benches. At the entrance to the tower is a granite square inscribed in honor of the architect John Galen Howard. The Campanile/Sather Tower and its bells were a gift from Mrs. Jane K. Sather as a memorial to herself.
The University of California was founded in 1868, but its origins date back to 1860 when the College of California, a small, private institution then located in Oakland, purchased thirty acres of land for the “benefits of a country location.” In 1866 the California legislature, established the College of Agriculture, Mining, and Mechanical Arts. Two years later, with the passage of the Charter Act by the legislature the new state college joined with the College of California, and the University of California was formed. The Berkeley campus opened in 1873.
Susan Cerny writes “Berkeley Observed” in conjunction with the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association.