Why the Observation Deck was Closed to Visitors

In response to requests from several visitors, TeamWeb has added this page to explain why the observation deck was closed. The text is reprinted from UT Austin, Traditions and Nostalgia (copyright 1992), by Margaret Catherine Berry and published by Eakin Press, Austin, Texas. It appears here with their permission.
"The Tower has been the site of nine deaths. The most tragic event associated with the structure, however, occurred at noon on August 1, 1966, when Charles Joseph Whitman, a twenty-five-year-old student of architectural engineering, turned the Tower into his fortress. Armed with three rifles, 700 rounds of ammunition, and other weapons, he terrorized unsuspecting persons on the campus and in the University community. Sixteen were killed and thirty-two were wounded. Whitman's wife and mother were his first victims. He had killed them early that same morning to spare them the embarassment of his actions. Ninety minutes after the shooting began, four police officers and one civilian reached Whitman on the Tower. One officer killed Whitman with a shotgun blast.

Classes were dismissed the following day, and the flags flew at half-mast. The Tower remained closed for several weeks. One note left by Whitman requested an autopsy to determine if he suffered from mental illness. The autopsy revealed a brain tumor, which had caused Whitman to suffer severe headaches.

After a young man jumped from the Tower on October 28, 1974, the observation deck was again closed until some form of protective barrier could be designed and erected."


Scenes : Introduction Escort Observation Deck Guestbook End

17 November 1999
TeamWeb at UT Austin
Comments to: www@www.utexas.edu