Sunday, April 21, 2013

The mystique of the Rock at Northwestern

The mystique of the Rock at Northwestern

October 1, 2029

Weekly Report Posted: December 10, 2012 04:26

The Rock is a boulder on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, located in between University Hall and Harris Hall. It serves as a billboard for campus groups and events.
The Rock, a purple-and-white quartzite boulder, was transplanted from Devil's Lake, Wisconsin, as a gift of the class of 1902. That graduating class liked the idea of running water on campus "in some form or another" and rigged the Rock to make a fountain on the south end of campus. The original plumbing was later refitted into a water fountain.

The Rock is one of Northwestern's best-known landmarks. While it was originally a fountain, vandalism of the Rock gradually increased, particularly during the Vietnam War. With the first painting of the rock in the 1940s, it became a canvas for student art, opinions, advertising, messages, proposals, and jokes. Tradition holds that if a student wishes to paint something on the Rock, he or she must guard it from sunup until the early morning hours (24 hours) before painting. Many student groups start guarding even earlier to ensure that they will be able to claim the Rock for whatever event or date is being advertised.

However, the Rock is no longer one solid piece of quartzite. In 1989 the Rock had to be moved about 20 feet to accommodate new landscaping. The work crew which was to move the Rock dropped it, splitting it up one side and crumbling part of the base. Fortunately, scientists at McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science provided an epoxy to patch the Rock together again.

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