Whether you’re a returning alum, soon-to-be student, family member, a visiting fan of an opposing team or just happen to be wandering around Columbia and find yourself on the University of South Carolina campus, here are some of the spots that make UofSC so special.
The university’s original campus, the Historic Horseshoe is now a picturesque place to relax, study, or have in impromptu photo shoot. Twelve historic buildings skirt the edges of the space, forming a U-shape that gives the area its name. Brick pathways break up the lawn and many of these bricks are engraved with special messages from past and present students (bonus points if you find the ones for local legends Hootie & The Blowfish!). On sunny days, you’ll find people reading books on park benches, playing Frisbee with friends, walking their dogs and having picnics. Find a stretch of shaded grass and settle in for some idyllic scenery and top-notch people-watching.
The only facility in town that can accommodate 80,000 of your closest friends was first constructed in 1934 but continues to be modernized for state-of-the art game days, concerts and more. Come fall, the streets are a sea of garnet and black as fans make their way in droves to Williams-Brice Stadium for some good ‘ole Gamecock football. The sounds of Sandstorm and cheers fill the air and fireworks light up the sky every time the home team scores. Regardless of the shock absorbers and the overall safety of the structure, there is a noticeable ripple effect that happens throughout the distinguishable upper deck of the stadium during especially exciting games when fans become over-enthused. As former head football coach Joe Morrison once said, “If it ain’t swayin’, we ain’t playin’.”
A’ja Wilson Statue at Colonial Life Arena
A’ja Wilson will forever hold a place in the hearts of Gamecock fans after leading the team (under beloved coach Dawn Staley) to a 2017 NCAA National Championship in women’s basketball. In 2021, the hoops hero earned a permanent place on campus with a statue outside Colonial Life Arena, the Gamecocks’ home court. The tradition continues as the women’s basketball team brought home another championship in 2022.
Reflecting Pool at Thomas Cooper Library
The steady waters of the reflecting pool and fountain in front of Thomas Cooper Library bring a sense of calm to passersby and stressed-out students (as well as provide the perfect backdrop to any photo!). Park benches dot the outskirts of the pool for reading or lunch breaks and when it comes time for a major sports achievement or graduation, it’s not uncommon for people to swarm the waters in celebration. And just think - the design of the pool was almost discarded in favor of a parking lot!
With wrought-iron gates on either end and a big, bright Gamecock emblazoned in paint on the asphalt, Greene Street is the road that runs outside Russell House, the student union. Rallies, a small farmer’s market, organization fairs and more all take place on this campus thoroughfare.
Behind Rutledge College, turn your gaze upward and you’ll see a red brick smokestack proudly bearing “USC” along the side. The structure was built in 1913 as a coal heating plant for the campus. You can spot it for miles and against the backdrop of a sunny Columbia sky, the view is nothing short of majestic.
Reaching 18 stories into the sky, this landmark residence hall is widely known for not only housing students, but also the Top of Carolina – a revolving restaurant that is open to the public. Enjoy lunch alongside breathtaking views of campus and the city beyond. The top of Capstone is also lit up in garnet every now and then to commemorate special occasions (the garnet lights could be seen near and far when the Lady Gamecocks took home the 2022 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship).
The Clapping Circle on Russell House Patio
This circular brick formation on the outdoor patio of Russell House is so much more than meets the eye… and ear. Stand in the center of the circle, clap your hands and you (and only you!) will hear a distinctive chirping sound. Don’t be afraid of looking silly! Experiencing the clapping circle is a USC tradition and a rite of passage of sorts for all who step foot on campus.