It’s that time of year again, when summer gets extra hot before turning into fall, and Green St. gets extra busy as the new and returning students flood campus.

If you’re new to campus, you might be looking for the game locations in and around your new digs. Here are some must-see locations where you can also increase your game stats.

Hallene Gateway

One of the most popular photo op spots is Hallene Gateway, located at the corner of Lincoln Ave. and Illinois St. It is a focal point of Hallene Gateway Plaza, which features a large fountain and a landscaped seating area.

Hallene Gateway was originally an actual gateway, functioning as the entry to University Hall, which no longer exists. Standing where the Illini Union is located today, University Hall was built in 1872 and destroyed in 1938 after a partial collapse. The sandstone gateway was moved to stand behind the Architecture building for a time, then was shipped off to Allerton Park in Monticello. When it was rediscovered in 1994, it was in poor repair and partially buried by vegetation. Donations from Alan and Phyllis Welsh Hallene allowed the gateway’s restoration as well as the construction of Hallene Gateway Plaza, dedicated in 1998. You can find more information about the excavation of the gateway here

Image from the Daily Illini

The Gateway Plaza offers a quiet, picturesque place to relax before heading into campus proper. It’s also a popular spot for new students to pose for first-day-on-campus photo shoots, and for new graduates to pose in their regalia for last-day-on-campus memories.

Alma Mater

Yes, it’s an obvious choice. It’s also definitely a must-see for all freshmen and a favorite photo op location. We all know what it looks like from the front, so how about some different angles for a change?

Originally placed behind Foellinger Auditorium at the south end of the Main Quad, Alma Mater now stands at the corner of Wright and Green. Its sculptor, Lorado Taft, graduated from the U of I in 1879. Inspired by the university’s motto, he began mulling the idea of a sculpture featuring Labor and Learning only a few years later. However, it was not until 1929 that the final version of his vision was cast in bronze. Alma is very bronze these days, although older pictures show her with a green patina. Her current almost-like-new condition is the result of a thorough $250,000 cleaning, which saw her absent from her usual location from 2012 to 2014. You can read about the details of her make-over here

Taft himself, born in 1860, was distantly related to President William Howard Taft. He was homeschooled, then attended the U of I, and afterward studied in Paris. In 1886, he returned to the US and taught at the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Chicago, and the U of I. In 1903, he published the first survey of American Sculpture, fittingly titled The History of American Sculpture.

Alma Mater is not Taft’s only work — it’s not even his only work on the U of I campus. Portions of an unfinished work, Fountain of Creation, seen below, are also located near the Quad.

These two “Daughters of Pyrrah” are located in front of the Main Library. Their counterparts, each labeled “A Son of Ducalion,” are behind Foellinger Auditorium.

These sculptures are portions of an unfinished work originally intended to accompany Fountain of Time at the Midway in Chicago. Unfortunately, Taft passed away before completing Fountain of Creation.

Kinkead Pavilion, which adjoins the Krannert Art Museum on Peabody and 4th, also features sculptures by Taft, including The Blind, located just inside the Pavilion’s back door (Kinkead Pavilion is also a good stop for your gaming endeavors). Near the Pavilion is Lorado Taft Avenue, named in his honor.

Venture a short distance off campus to Carle Park, and you’ll find a Lorado Taft statue called Lincoln the Lawyer, commemorating Abraham Lincoln’s pre-presidential days. Like Taft’s other sculptures, Lincoln is cast in bronze in a lifelike pose, realistic enough he almost seems ready to step off his pedestal and start practicing law again. The esteemed president is also a gaming landmark.

Carle Park is located just off Race Street in Urbana, across from Urbana High School. Lincoln is set off a bit from the main park in his own dedicated oasis, and if you’re at all interested in Illinois history or the history of Lincoln in particular, it’s well worth the brief detour to keep him company for a few minutes.

These examples are far from Taft’s only work. Other Taft sculptures are located in Chicago, Lafayette, Indiana, Seattle, and even Denver, as well as other locations in Illinois.

Photos by Katriena Knights except where noted