The University of Colorado was established in 1876, the very same year that Colorado became a state. The school was originally contained in one building, Old Main, which was formally dedicated on September 5, 1877. This building held all classrooms, housing for students and even housing for President Joseph Sewall and his family. Forty-four students formed the first class, and they were taught by three instructors. Only two courses of study were offered, a Classical Course and a Scientific Course.
In 1917, when the university was undergoing massive expansion, a debate arose as to what architectural style should be adopted. Charles Z. Klauder, the head architect of the firm selected for the construction, proposed Italian Rural Architecture, arguing that it would fit with the Boulder foothills and flatirons. He presented his sketches to then President Norlin, who accepted them and green-lighted the university’s expansion.
As years passed, CU-Boulder continued to embrace its role as Colorado’s flagship public research university. The school has claimed a number of Nobel laureates, MacArthur Fellows, and numerous members of prestigious national organizations and academies. Today the CU-Boulder campus includes over 200 buildings and nine different colleges of study.
The first mention of the school mascot, the buffalo, first appeared in 1934. The Silver & Gold newspaper held a contest that year to select an official school nickname, and "Buffaloes" was the winning entry. For the final football game of the season, some students paid $25 to rent a buffalo calf and a real cowboy (to look after the calf). That live buffalo was kept on the sidelines as Boulder defeated the University of Denver 7-0 on Thanksgiving Day, 1934. And so Ralphie, the school mascot, was born.
CU-Boulder’s campus has got to be one of the most beautiful in the country. Tucked up against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—with the spectacular Flatirons as its western backdrop—the campus is a spacious series of grassy fields and red-tiled sandstone buildings in the style of northern Italy. There are many trees and rolling hills (as well as streams), and students frequently head to Farrand Field or other quads to study, play sports, and take advantage of the fresh mountain air.
Notable buildings on campus include the University Memorial Center (UMC), Mary Rippon Theatre, Norlin Library, and Macky Auditorium. The Buff Bus is a student shuttle that runs between off-campus housing and the main campus. The buses have two routes through campus and run from 7:00am to midnight on weekdays, until 2:55am on Fridays, and until 3:00am on Saturdays.
Boulder, Colorado is a beautiful town, and the CU campus, on a warm sunny day is absolutely breathtaking. Some of the most popular hangouts on campus on these days are Farrand Field, the Sewall quad, and Norlin Quad. Farrand Field offers a lot of space to lounge in the sun or to kick a soccer ball around between classes. On the Sewall quad, nicknamed Sewall Beach, you can always find students in their bathing suits soaking up the sun on a nice sunny day. Norlin Quad, centrally located on campus, is also a very popular place to relax, read, chat with friends, or play with your dog in your off time between classes.
Another popular location to hang out is at Norlin Library. Norlin Library offers opportunities to study, do research, or to meet with your friends. Students can always find a quiet place to sit and read in peace in the Library, a luxury often not found in the dorms or at home for most students. Additionally, the Hot Spot in Norlin Library is an area with a small convenience store and coffee shop as well as big tables and chairs where students can sit and talk about class or anything else. Professors and teaching assistants often hold their office hours at the Hot Spot.
The best on-campus hang out at CU is the University Memorial Center, or the UMC. It offers food, entertainment, shops, and services. There is the Alfred Packer Grill, with meal options ranging from comfort foods to snacks to breakfast items. Baby Doe’s is a one-stop shop for corner-store items such as toothpaste or sports drinks. There are also a variety of fast food restaurants like Domino’s, EC Hot Dogs, Jamba Juice, Subway, and Wok and Roll. Entertainment at the UMC includes the Connection, where you can bowl and play pool, and the Art Gallery, which presents a variety of artwork from local, national, and international artists. Shops and services at the UMC range from the CU Book Store, where CU memorabilia and school supplies are sold, to the Ink Spot, where you can print off homework and make large numbers of copies.
Another great on-campus hangout is Kay’s Café, located in the brand new Atlas Building. This place offers coffee and specialty drinks from early morning to evening and is a great place to hang out with friends or do homework. It is also centrally located on campus and makes for a great meeting place.
Farrand Field is probably the most ideal on-campus hangout CU has to offer. Spring through fall, it is packed with students sunbathing and engaging in outdoor activities. Several concerts take place on the field as well and attract students not only from the dorms but from the surrounding area as well. During the winter, especially on nice days, students partake in activities such as football, Frisbee and even snowman-building.
Boulder, Colorado, is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Biking, hiking, climbing, and bouldering are common recreational activities in the foothills just outside of town, and there are nearby fishing and kayaking spots as well. In the winter, though, skiing and snowboarding are where it’s at. Many of the best ski resorts in Colorado can be reached from Boulder in about 30 minutes to an hour by car, and both the campus and the town will often empty out into the mountains during winter weekends. Boulder Freeride is the largest student group at CU, and it organizes skiing/snowboarding trips and parties throughout the ski season.
Boulder (roughly 100,000 residents) is very much a college town, and it is also a liberal community in an otherwise largely conservative state. CU’s campus is just a mile or so from Pearl Street Mall, the main thoroughfare of Boulder, which offers a number of bars, cafés, performance venues, shops, and restaurants. CU spirit can be felt all around Boulder, and the university is a major part of its economic life, just as Boulder is a big part of CU’s cultural life.
“Boulder is located at the base of the Rocky Mountains. While walking on campus, students can gaze upon the Flatiron rock formations shooting upwards. Any and all outdoor recreational activities are available to students in the surrounding area of Boulder such as biking, climbing, skiing and hiking. There are activities for all levels of recreation too, from relaxing strolls to grueling climbs. Boulder’s surrounding area offers excellent opportunities to experience nature at only a stone’s throw away!
Boulder offers excellent access to the outdoors. Chetaqua Park in West Boulder is a gorgeous area with numerous hiking trails of varying difficulty. Students as well as locals often visit Chetaqua to enjoy a nice walk at the foot of the Flatiron rock formations towering just above. Rock climbing is also very popular in Boulder and there is no better place for indoor rock climbing than The Spot Bouldering Gym. Climbers from all around the US and the world come to climb at the Spot, like renowned rock climber Chris Sharma. The Spot, while offering fun climbing, also holds events such as the 2008 National Climbing Championship, which are always a fun time to gather and watch incredibly skilled climbers.
The Hill in Boulder is another student hot spot where you can grab some food, sit and have a drink, and even see a concert. The Hill has a ton of restaurants like Thunderbirds and Half-Fast where you can get a variety of delicious sandwiches. The Fox Concert Hall is also located on the Hill and has performances every night of the week. The Fox plays host to local bands such as Rose Hill Drive, who always put on a great show, and to famous bands like Dave Mathews. The Hill also has a lively night scene, with The Skink and The Pit offering after-hours entertainment and drinks.
The Pearl Street Mall is Boulder’s main downtown area and offers numerous opportunities to relax, shop, sit down to a nice meal, or to just walk around and enjoy the day. Pearl Street has shops of every kind—you can buy clothes, shoes, or stop into the candy shop for something sweet. Food options on Pearl Street are also abundant, providing restaurants like Illegal Pete’s for a quick burrito or something nicer like Cheese Cake Factory, a favorite place for students to bring their parents when in town. Students often schedule study sessions with friends at one of the many café’s on Pearl Street, such as The Trident Café. Pearl Street is also the center for nightlife in Boulder, as it contains a great number of bars only a short walk from one another.”
The most notable off-campus hangout would most definitely have to be Half Fast. It is located on The Hill and offers a ton of subs and specialty alcohol drinks. It is frequented at all hours and is a popular hangout for students. Half Fast has big screen TVs to watch sporting events, and an outdoor eating area for warm days.
Café Play is a relatively new coffee shop located n the hill where students can study while enjoying coffee and homemade chili. There is a big screen television set up with a Wi game system for students trying to escape writing their papers or studying for their midterms. The upstairs area also has comfy couches and free wireless connection.
Bacaro, located on Pearl Street, is a fantastic hangout for students 21 and up. There are two bars and an outside and inside dance floor. Talented DJ’s showcase their talent on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Students who do not care to drink will also enjoy the exciting and fun atmosphere.
Norlin’s Speech: Among CU-Boulder’s official traditions is the reading of President Norlin’s baccalaureate speech at each commencement ceremony. President Norlin originally delivered his address on June 9, 1935, and it has become the traditional charge to graduates of the university: "The University consists of all who come into and go forth from her halls, who are touched by her influence and who carry on her spirit. Wherever you go, the university goes with you."
Conference on World Affairs: This event has existed for 60 years. Each April, experts in every field imaginable flock to CU-Boulder’s campus for a week to discuss a wide variety of topics in world affairs. Some of the notable people that the conference has attracted include Patch Adams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Molly Ivins, Arthur Miller, R. Buckminster Fuller, Steve Allen, and Roger Ebert.
Colorado Shakespeare Festival: For more than 50 years, the Mary Rippon Theatre has hosted the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. This summer festival is the second longest-running Shakespeare festival in the country, and in 1975 it became the seventh venue in the world to perform Shakespeare’s entire body of work.
4:20 A major stereotype of CU-Boulder is that all the students are weed smokin’ hippies. While this is far from the truth, many students do choose to indulge in the “green goddess.” As a result of this fairly large community of pot smokers, a tradition has developed on the twentieth day of the fourth month. Every year on April 20th, it has become customary to meet at 4:20pm on Farrand Field to spark that “phatty jay.” The University obviously does not approve of this tradition and through the use of preventative measures such as sprinklers and offering rewards for positive ID’s of participants, they attempt dissuade students from attending. Now, the University closes Farrand Field on April 20th and, due to recent construction done on the field, there exists the new risk of being charged with trespassing and/or destruction of property if you are caught on the field on April 20th. Still, individuals who wish to uphold the old tradition have left Farrand Field in search of greener pastures. Now, the “4:20 haze” can be seen over Norlin Quad as “ganja” lovers congregate there on April 20th. This bigger venue has brought with it more publicity for the tradition. Now, local restaurants and organizations even set up booths to provide food and drink for participants. While the 4:20 tradition lives on, its anti-establishment undertones have lessened with these changes in effect. Nevertheless, April 20th on Norlin Quad is part of the CU Bolder experience , which all students should see with or without the some of the “bubble cush.”
Naked Pumpkin Run: Halloween in Boulder is always a fun and exciting week. That’s right! Halloween is not simply one night of mischief; it lasts for a whole week full of costumes, parties, and naked people with pumpkins on their heads. The Naked Pumpkin Run, aka NPR, is an event that happens every October 31st in which daring individuals gather at an undisclosed location and then together, wearing nothing but hollowed-out pumpkins, they run through the middle of Boulder’s downtown bar district, Pearl Street. Fans, dressed up in myriad ensembles, gather in anticipation of the event and turn Pearl Street into a festival full of creative Halloween costumes. The NPR increases in size every year: there were over 100 runners for the 2007 event. If you find yourself in or around Boulder on October 31st, make sure to put on your best costume and make your way down to Pearl Street for the Naked Pumpkin Run. It’s a great time and a great way to experience Boulder’s nightlife.
Kissin’ Ralphie: Everyone’s 21st birthday is a very momentous and celebrated day. In Boulder, the ceremonial bar crawl is carried out on Pearl Street and one of the mandatory stops is a small bar called The Pub. Aside from getting a free birthday shot, the main incentive to a stop at The Pub is to carry on the tradition of kissing “Ralphie,” the buffalo mounted on the wall of the bar. Lovingly named after the CU mascot, this taxidermic novelty has attracted many who want a picture of themselves kissing Ralphie on their 21st birthday. This tradition is certainly one of the more bizarre found in Boulder.
Football Ralphie: Before every football game, the CU official mascot, Ralphie, a live bison, is ran around the field by handlers and followed by the cheer squad waving flags that spell Colorado. It is the highlight of every game and gets the crowd and football team pumped up.
Tailgating: Another integral part of the football season is the tailgating extravaganza on campus. All the parking lots and open areas surrounding the Folsom Field are converted into makeshift tailgate areas. Families and college students alike find the tailgating experience to be exciting and relaxing.
Fall Parade: During the fall, students groups, fraternities and sororities will put on a school parade that travels through the streets of Boulder. Some of these groups spend countless hours making floats and costumes, usually with some theme involved. A majority of students attend this parade, along with the surrounding communities. The parade is a great example of Colorado's amazing school spirit.
Jeremy Bloom is an Olympic skier and NFL player currently with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
George Hanks “Hank” Brown (1961) is a former Republican senator from Colorado.
Herb Keinon is a journalist for the Jerusalem Post.
Trey Parker is a co-creator of the TV show South Park. Parker met co-creator Matt Stone at Boulder.
Ed Perlmutter (1975) is a Democratic congressman representing central Colorado.
Robert Redford (attended) is an Academy Award-winning actor and founder of the Sundance Film Festival.
Rick Reilly is an award-winning sports writer at ESPN.
Matt Stone is a co-creator of the TV show South Park. Stone met co-creator Trey Parker at Boulder.
John Leonard “Jack” Swigert (1953) was a NASA astronaut aboard Apollo 13 and later a US congressman from Colorado.
The Buffaloes compete at the varsity level in NCAA Division I sports. CU is part of the Big 12 Conference, and they have especially large rivalries with other Big 12 schools, as well as with the Air Force Academy and Colorado State. The Buffs have won national championships in skiing, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, and football. They have also won conference championships in several sports. In addition to varsity sports, there are many club and intramural sports at CU. Some of these club sports, such as cycling and triathlon, have won national championships.
The most popular team by far is the CU Football Team. Lovingly called the Buffs, game day is always a lot of fun on and around campus. It is common among most students to attend one of the many pre-game parties followed by the communal pilgrimage to Folsom Field. The most exciting game is against our biggest rivals CSU. This game is held at Mile High Stadium in Denver and is definitely an event to look forward to.”
CU also has a nationally-competitive spirit program, which consists of three teams—two Cheerleading squads, and the CU Express Dance Team. In 2007, the cheerleading squad finished sixth at NCA Nationals in Daytona Beach.
The official school colors are silver and gold—not the commonly seen black and gold of the Buff’s uniform. Silver and gold were chosen to represent the state's mineral wealth, but the colors did not look good together, so black was substituted for silver. CU’s three official fight songs are "Glory Colorado," "Go Colorado," and "Fight CU."
The Hiking Club is the oldest student organization on campus, dating back to 1919.
The creators of South Park attended the University of Colorado and make references to people and the campus itself in many of their episodes.
Boulder was the setting for Stephen King’s book The Stand (1978).
The sitcom Mork and Mindy was set in Boulder, with 1619 Pine Street serving as the exterior shot of Mindy’s home.
Pearl Street Mall was one location for the filming of the movie Catch and Release with Jennifer Garner.
First to create a new form of matter, the Bose-Einstein condensate, just a few hundred billionths of a degree above absolute zero.
First to observe a "fermionic condensate" formed from pairs of atoms in a gas.
#1 in “The Smartest Cities in America” in Forbes 2008
#1 Place You Dream of Living in Backpacker Magazine 2006
#1 university recipient of NASA funding
-Jordan Howard ’09 contributed reporting
CU-Boulder has 21 residence halls built in the Italian Renaissance style. They provide space for approximately 5,900 students. All 21 halls are coed, though in some cases men and women live on separate floors. The gender layout is determined based on bathroom accommodations. Farrand and Sewall Halls are reserved for underclassmen, whereas Reed Hall is generally open to non-freshman or graduate students only.
One of the most popular dorms on campus is Farrand. It is located in the center of campus and has easy access to all classes. Farrand is also located just across from Farrand Field, which is a great space for relaxing in the sun or playing Frisbee or soccer. Farrand also has a great cafeteria with virtually every choice of food you could want.
Sewall Hall is also another popular dorm on campus. Sewall’s location is particularly advantageous because it is located directly next to the CU Recreation Center and just across the quad from Norlin Library. Sewall’s cafeteria is well known on campus for its breakfasts. Every day, Sewall offers custom omelets as well as waffles and breakfast meats.
Williams Village, the biggest dorm on campus, is actually located about three blocks off campus. Adoringly called “Will Vill,” this high-rise features apartment-like units. Though somewhat removed from the campus community, the students living in Will Vill form a tight-knit community.
Dorm living at CU can be considered the ultimate college experience. Whether you have one or four roommates, CU on-campus living is catered for all interested students. The halls incorporate the excitement and energy of a large university but have the support network usually found at a small college. There are a variety of floor plans, social activities and academic services to promote all students. One of the major dorm halls on campus that is well known by all students is Farrand. It is centrally located in the middle of the campus next to beautiful Farrand Field, Leads School of Business and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The primary room types are doubles with community baths. Farrand residents must participate in its popular residential academic programs, which entail taking one or two selected courses right in your hall. The Ally@Farrand has freshly made food in a food court environment. It also features an Alley Express grab-n-go which allows students to take lunch and dinner items with them rather than eating in the actual dining facility.
Another large and well known residential hall is Williams Village. It contains 1,400 residents in four towers: Darley North, Darley South, Stearns East, and Stearns West. Darley South is a substance-free hall. Right next to the towers is Darley Commons, which contains a dining hall and is the center of social activities. It is located slightly off campus at the intersection of baseline and 30th Street. Williams Village has the greatest diversity of rooms available, including special amenities such as air conditioning and tennis courts, and it is in close proximity to the Student Center annex. Participation in the Chancellor’s Leadership Residential Academic Program is mandatory for all residents who select and are assigned to the program. This program offers courses that meet core requirements and a certificate in the Study and Practice of Leadership.
The Kittredge community houses 1,100 residents in four residence halls: Arnett, Buckingham, Kittredge West, and Smith. It is located on the southeast edge of campus next to the Coors Event Center where men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball games are held. There is a commons building that houses the Hardrive Café, a cyber café where students meet friends and enjoy great food. There are 19 ceiling-mounted televisions, wired and wireless computer access for laptops, and an amazing fireplace for those cold winter days. The rooms are primarily doubles with community baths.