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An Oakland Tribune article from November 1913 describes the building of the Campanile at UC Berkeley.

BERKELEY -- A century ago Friday, construction workers, architects and engineers joined UC Berkeley's president for a celebratory "feast in the sky," climbing shaky ladders and walking on planks to reach the unfinished Campanile's observation deck 200 feet above the campus.

They had cranberry sauce with their roast turkey and ice cream with their pie.

Reporters covering the event -- marking completion of the tower's steel frame -- described the diners' nonchalant air.

An Oakland Tribune illustration -- headlined "Girl climbs U.C. Campanile/ Serves noon feast in sky" -- featured Vivian Bowers, who said she enjoyed the task.

"It was certainly an interesting and exciting experience, and the only thing I have to regret is that there were no steps to the very top of the pinnacle," Bowers told the newspaper. "I should have liked to have seen the view from up there. It was so beautiful as it was that I really did not have time to be afraid."

University of California President Benjamin Ide Wheeler and other high-ranking guests arrived at the banquet in relative comfort, hoisted up in a construction box. The day before his ascent, Wheeler spoke symbolically of the view and urged students to take a "broad view of the campus and college affairs," according to records discovered by UC historians.


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The Tribune had earlier predicted the Berkeley landmark would compare to "the Campanile of Venice, Giotto's tower in Florence, and the Giralda of Seville" and that it was "destined to become one of the world's most famous towers."

"Slender and lofty, its gleaming walls all of white granite and marble," it said, "the Sather campanile will be a splendid landmark, visible from ocean vessels as they enter the Golden Gate and from all the cities clustering around San Francisco Bay."

The Campanile was completed in 1915; UC Berkeley is planning events for its centennial next year.

Follow Katy Murphy at Twitter.com/katymurphy.

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See 1914 Oakland Tribune photos of the Campanile feast and the Tribune's report at www.mercurynews.com/education.