The University of Georgia Arch

University of Georgia Arch

The UGA Arch after the lights had been added

Of all of the Athens landmarks and favorite locations, it is safe to say that none are more iconic than the Arch. Once part of the fence that secured the UGA campus, the Arch was fired at the old Athens Foundry, though no one is certain what year it was constructed. The three pillars of the Arch represent wisdom, justice and moderation. Because it was intended as an entryway through the fence, the Arch was originally constructed with gates. Eventually the gates disappeared, supposedly due to a prank, in 1885. The popularity of the Arch has made it a continued site for pranks and vandalism, but the Arch’s history as a place of tradition and a witness to history is far more appreciated.

The Arch has stood through countless historic events, including the desegregation of UGA in 1961, the emergence of the automobile, and two world wars. It is also a common spot for political protests and demonstrations. Despite its history, the Arch is still most simply known as a symbol of Athens and UGA. Incoming freshman learn quickly that they should not walk under the Arch before receiving their degree. It is believed that anyone who does will never graduate from UGA.

In fact, this tradition is so well known, and often believed, that the steps to either side of the Arch have worn down from students avoiding going through. It is believed that this tradition was started in the 1900s when student Daniel Redfearn vowed that he would not pass under the arch until he graduated. This idea spread, and soon became a steadfast tradition.

The Arch by Jamie Calkin

One of the many Arch prints from local artists we carry

The Arch was renovated this past summer, which including removal of the top portion. The three pillars were not removed since they are embedded in the steps, but the Athens icon was still able to be cleaned and received a fresh coat of black paint.

The Arch has seen Athens change drastically over the many years it has been standing, and will certainly continue to be a silent witness to many new changes to come.

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