The University of Washington, founded in 1861, is the largest university in the Northwest and was the first public university on the West Coast. Originally called the Territorial University of Washington, the school was forced to close three times early on due to a lack of students and funding. (Not hard to believe since tuition was only $5 per academic quarter.) In 1889, however, Seattle’s population had grown substantially and UW became the home of 300 undergraduate students. The ‘60s and ‘70s saw huge growth in enrollment, with the student body increasing from 16,000 to 34,000 students.
The urban campus houses mostly Collegiate Gothic buildings with beautiful brick paths winding around its grounds. Pristine lawns and cherry blossom trees make the campus look like an airbrushed poster, and views of Mount Rainier and Pacific bays make UW’s campus an ideal setting.
The Husky Union Building (HUB) is a great place for students to congregate or get a bite to eat. It is one of the most trafficked buildings on campus, and the great expanse of lawn in front is littered with students on sunny days.
UW’s libraries are the site of a lot of student interaction, both academic and social. Many students will often find themselves at Odegaard, the undergraduate library that is usually open 24 hours a day. When students don’t have their heads buried in books, they’re helping their friends stay awake.
The beautiful promotional pictures of the University of Washington are usually taken in the Quad during the springtime. This is where you’ll most likely find students hanging out, sunbathing, playing Frisbee, reading, or studying during the spring or fall – professors have even been known to teach their classes outside on a gorgeous day.
The Intramural Activities Building (IMA), UW’s recreational activities center, is the spot for athletically-minded students. There are courts for basketball, volleyball, racquetball, badminton, and handball. Those in need of a solitary workout will of course find weights and exercise machines as well.
UW is located in the city of Seattle, and students are endlessly entertained by the diverse offerings of the beautiful metropolis. Buses shuttle students around to popular Seattle locations and many hotspots are within walking distance from campus.
Gas Works is about a thirty minute walk from the South Campus dorms and is often frequented by students, especially on sunny days. The grassy hills adjacent to what used to be a gas plant offer great views of the city skyline across Lake Union (but be advised, it can get pretty windy, so you might want to bring a coat).
Many students spend time roaming and shopping downtown. There are all sorts of shops and eateries to get lost in and plenty of buses that will get you back to the U-District. Some dorm-dwelling students will take a bus downtown and wander around for hours to get a change of scenery.
Pike Place Market is a Seattle landmark and tourist trap, but it also makes for a great weekend field trip. It is one of the cheaper places to buy good local food and crafts and to support the surrounding community.
Though not technically located on campus nor a campus facility, the Ave is significant part of campus life. Technically named University Way, the Ave is lined with restaurants, stores, and copy centers for student enjoyment.
Northgate is the closest thing to a real mall that UW students will find. Students living in the dorms will probably become exceedingly familiar with Northgate as soon as they begin to furnish their rooms. For shoppers it’s a great place to hang out, and even for those less interested in retail therapy, it’s a place to find a good meal.
During football season, a live Alaskan Malamute leads the team onto the field at the start of games, representing the school’s official mascot, the husky. In a not exactly school-sanctioned activity, students embrace the unofficial tradition of enjoying the sparkling waters of Drumheller Fountain by taking a swim after the university cleans it.
The University of Washington’s archrival in sports is its sister institution, Washington State University. Every football season when the Huskies play the WSU Cougars in the Apple Cup, UW students turn out in droves to party and watch the game. Any time WSU teams come to town, attendance is virtually guaranteed to be higher than normal, regardless of the sport.
Dale Chihuly (1965) is a noted glassblower.
Beverley Cleary (post-grad 1939) authored entertaining children’s novels such as Ramona Quimby, Age 8; Ramona the Brave; and The Mouse and the Motorcycle.
William and Mary Gates (1950) are the proud parents of Microsoft mega-mogul Bill Gates.
Richard Karn (1979) was Tim “The Toolman” Taylor’s trusty assistant on the sitcom Home Improvement.
Hank Ketcham (attended) was the cartoonist behind Dennis the Menace.
Bruce Lee (attended) was an actor and martial arts guru.
Hugh McElhenny (1952) was an NFL Hall of Famer.
Joel McHale (1995) is the host of E!’s The Soup.
Detlef Schrempf (1988) is a former NBA All-Star.
Rick Steves (1978) is the global trekker, television host, and travel writer of Rick Steves ’ Europe Through the Back Door.
Rainn Wilson (1986) plays the awkward assistant on NBC’s The Office.
UW is an NCAA Division I school and a member of the Pacific Ten Conference. Football and basketball are the most popular sports, drawing crowds of students, alums and locals and on game days, with many fans tailgating by boat on the shores of Lake Washington. The Husky football team has won a few national championships and has reached a number of bowl games since it began competing athletically before 1900. Crew and volleyball are also popular sports with fairly successful teams.
The sports tradition “the wave” was allegedly invented here in 1981.
Red Square was originally called Suzzallo Quadrangle until in 1969 an editor of the student newspaper started calling it Red Square and the name stuck.
UW is the nation’s #1 supplier of technical employees to Microsoft and Intel.
UW’s medicinal herb garden is the largest in the Western Hemisphere, with more than 500 medicinal herbs.
Dorms are located in various locations throughout campus and the lottery system often results in unlucky students having to trek long distances to class every day. The rooms are cramped no matter how many roomies you have, but embracing dorm life
is all part of the college experience. Most students live in the dorms during freshman year and then opt for off-campus housing later on.
At first glance, Terry-Lander appears to be one big building, but it is actually two separate dorms connected on the ground and first floors. Lander is an all-freshman dorm and Terry has a mix of class years, though there are still a large number of freshmen. Both of these dorms feature double and triple rooms on coed floors. They are connected by the South Campus dining hall, Café 1101, and the convenience store, “TooCon.” The ground floor hosts the Southwest Activities Center and a small gym area.
Terry-Lander and all of the other South Campus dorms are farther from classes and the IMA (recreation center), but they are close to the “Ave.” The view from the water-facing rooms is astounding; you probably won’t be able to afford a view like that until well after you graduate. On a clear day most students in these rooms can see both Mount Rainier and the Space Needle.
Mercer has single, double, and triple rooms on coed floors, as well as lounges, a courtyard with a volleyball court, and a large field. The amenities located in nearby Terry- Lander are very accessible.
McMahon is an 11-floor dorm located on North Campus with a unique “clustered” floor plan. The clusters are made up of four double rooms surrounding a lounge and shared bathroom. The clusters themselves are not co-ed, but the dorm is. All clusters come with balconies that often offer a great view of Lake Washington.
The North Campus Activities Center is housed in McMahon, which is also home to “the 8,” the North Campus dining hall. McMahon’s fitness center includes various workout machines, and the dorm also contains a music practice room with a piano. The location of McMahon is more convenient to classes, but is further from off-campus dining.
McCarty is a six-floor dorm located on North Campus consisting of double and triple rooms on single-gender floors. McCarty is also home to the North Campus convenience store, “Ian’s Domain,” and its main lounge has a pool table and a ping-pong table.
Hansee Hall is a 24-hour quiet dorm for students over the age of 20 with a history of on-campus living. It is located near the other North Campus dorms and doesn’t have a dining hall. This four-floor dorm consists only of single dorm rooms. Its lounges have fireplaces in addition to the standard television. All other amenities are located in the surrounding North Campus dorms.
Haggett has one especially unique feature: all of the rooms are hexagonal. This eight-floor dorm has both single and double dorm rooms that often offer views of Lake Washington. Haggett’s large outdoor patio is also great for sunny days, when they come.