I love you hills of Berkeley,
With scattered flower and oaken tree…
from a student poem, Blue and Gold, 1903–04
Charter Hill stands just above Cal’s Memorial Stadium, providing a majestic view of the UC Berkeley campus and the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge beyond. From below, Charter Hill is immediately identifiable by the gold block “C” that has graced its western slope for more than 100 years.
The hill figured prominently in the freshman-sophomore rivalry surrounding Charter Day ceremonies at the end of the 19th century. In the late 1800s, the ceremonies featured representative speakers from the senior, junior, and sophomore classes — but not the freshman class.
Not to be left out, the freshmen found their own ways to participate. One year, they erected a giant wooden elephant, and another year they surreptitiously unfurled a freshman banner. Later, they began to carve their class year on the hill above the campus for all to see. Though the sophomores retaliated with Charter Hill Rush — an annual “battle” producing injuries and bad publicity — in 1905 the two classes put aside their rivalry and worked together to construct a permanent block “C” in concrete on Charter Hill.
Since that time, Charter Hill has been a beloved feature of the campus landscape and a symbol of the University’s founding ideals, strong sense of community, and unwavering spirit. The Charter Hill Society is proud to support Cal’s all-around excellence while invoking this singular and eloquent landmark.