View From Above: UT Tower TragedyThe Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, and the St. Louis Gateway Arch are famous as landmarks and as platforms for a breathtaking view of at least some small portion of the earth. In cities all over the world people line up to climb stairs or take elevators to observation decks that offer a "bird's eye" view of the world. Unfortunately, these platforms in the sky also attract those who wish to harm themselves or others.
Once open to visitors, the observation deck at the UT Tower was closed in 1974 after yet another suicide jump from the tower. But its most infamous part in history came on August 1, 1966 when student Charles Whitman perched atop the tower and starting shooting. Thirteen died. Many more were injured.
A New View From Above: UT Tower Observation DeckClosed for a quarter of a century, for most of us, views from the tower were only available online in static photos or VR movies.
On September 15, 1999 (the 116th birthday of UT) the University of Texas Tower Observation Deck reopened. Once again it played host to tourists and locals seeking to enjoy the view of Austin from their lofty perch - or who wanted a close-up look at a tragic bit of Austin and American history.
The Tower reopened in the Fall of 1999 with a new "safety lattice" designed to provide a mostly unimpaired view from the Tower but with protection against future suicide attempts or worse. Visitors must pass through metal detectors and be escorted to the observation deck by armed guards. Guided tours began September 16, 1999, the day following the official reopening.
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, just two years after reopening, the tower again closed due to national security concerns. Access is now possible only during scheduled escorted tours.