What could be the connection between the University of Maryland and the number 709,104?
Is it the number of alumni in the U.S.?
Is it the number of pizzas consumed by students each year?
Is it the number of times Testudo’s nose is rubbed for luck during final exams?
Nope, the large number above represents the number of square feet at the epicenter of the campus: McKeldin Mall.
From building face to building face, the Mall includes approximately 709,104 square feet, or 16.28 acres. The distance from the front doors of McKeldin Library to Main Administration is 1,343 feet. From the front doors of Symons Hall to the front doors of Marie Mount, the Mall spans 528 feet, narrowing as you near the western end, covering only 483 feet from the front doors of Jimenez Hall to the front doors of Chincoteague Hall. The mall originally continued to Anne Arundel Hall (behind McKeldin Library) and was considered to be the largest academic mall in the country. McKeldin Library became one end of the Mall when it opened in January 1958.
McKeldin Mall is significantly larger than The Lawn at UVA, often considered to be a rival green space. The Lawn is 950 feet long by 250 feet wide, for a total of 237,500 square feet, dramatically smaller than McKeldin Mall.
McKeldin Mall was renovated in 1990-1991 when the current configuration of sidewalks and fountain was put into place. Historically, there are some sidewalks in 1960s aerial photos of the Mall, but not as many as now. There are also some footpaths, or what students referred to as ‘goat trails,’ worn by repeated use into the grass. In the mid-20th century the lack of drainage combined with the lack of sidewalks to turn McKeldin Mall into what students called the “Terpy-fenokee Swamp.”
Today the Mall hosts all kinds of activities, including First Look Fair, where students can learn about student and campus organizations, and Maryland Day, the university’s open house. It has also been a place for students to speak their mind, hosting protests about apartheid, the Vietnam War, and other momentous issues. It will always be a focal point for the campus and an iconic spot to take photos, whether for graduation, an engagement or wedding, or just to capture an amazing sunset.
This post is part of our new series on Terrapin Tales called UMD123! Similar to our “ABC’s of UMD” series last semester, posts in this series will take a look at the university’s history “by the numbers.” New posts will come out twice a month, on Wednesdays, throughout the semester; search “UMD123” or check out Twitter #UMD123 to see the rest. If you want to learn more about campus history, you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.