Sather Gate, standing at the north end of Sproul Plaza, is a gateway into the heart of the University of California, Berkeley. It connects the plaza to a bridge over Strawberry Creek. Constructed in 1910, it used to be one of the original entrances into the campus. In fact, Telegraph Avenue used to run all the way up to the gate.
Designed by John Galen Howard, the gate itself is quite impressive, a huge central arch made green with age with two smaller entrances on either side. The words "Sather Gate" are etched in bold capital letters, and it is crowned by an image of a brilliant star. Inscribed on one of the concrete pillars supporting the gate is the dedication from Jane K. Sather to her late husband, Peder.
The pillars also feature some interesting artwork, namely classical nudes. There are eight such panels of men and women, intended to represent fields of learning: Agriculture, Architecture, Art, Electricity, Law, Letters, Medicine, and Mining. Higher education was a little different in those days. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to mention the artwork to the sickly Mrs. Sather until after the gate was finished, and she got a little ticked. The panels were disgusting, she said, venting her moral indignancy. She demanded that they be removed, and since she was a wealthy old lady with a lot of clout, President Benjamin Ide Wheeler did. (Not personally, I would think.) 67 years later, they were rediscovered, and they have since been reinstalled. Mrs. Sather needn't have worried. No one ever seems to notice them anyway.
If you cross through the gate from the south, you will notice a collection of plaques lining the sides of the bridge. Many clubs and associations on campus use this space as free advertising. The bridge is also a favorite hangout for religious fanatics, musicians, and people handing out flyers.
There is a mysterious woman who often sits on the west side of the bridge for no apparent reason. She wears a wide-brimmed hat and glasses, and ocassionally has a companion with her whom she talks to. She doesn't appear to be a loony, but in Berkeley one can never be too sure.
Rumor has it that homeless people live underneath the bridge, much like the troll in Billy Goats Gruff.