Aldrich Park is the natural centerpiece of the University of California, Irvine. This large botanical garden contains over 11,000 trees and shrubs, including 33 species of eucalyptus. Two ceremonial trees were planted for Arbor Day for chancellor Daniel Aldrich in 1990. The numerous trees on campus make UCI one out of 74 campuses nationwide to win the Tree Campus USA designation.
Aldrich Park was initially referred to as Central Park (being modeled after it). The master plan was for the park to be the nucleus of the campus. The layout of UCI, with the academic buildings set in a circle around a large park, is credited to UCI’s first Chancellor, Daniel Aldrich. He and his University planners conceived of UCI as helping students to discover ever-expanding concentric circles of knowledge.
The park is encompassed by Ring Road, which provides several paths by which students can enter and exit Aldrich Park. University students use the paths as shortcuts to get to other buildings that are set on Ring Road.
The various networks of paved and dirt pathways throughout the park were actually set by previous students themselves. When the park first opened University planners wanted to construct the paths according to how students crossed through the park. These paths help students navigate through the park in order to get to classes faster.
For a freshman not knowing where to go on campus, it is easy to find exactly where to go. My freshman year, I did not know where to go so I just followed the paths straight across Aldrich Park, which helped me get a grip on how to operate the maps and enjoy a nice view of the park. The maps displayed before entering the park are extremely helpful aids to navigation.
As you walk, you notice students relaxing on the sunny hills, under shady trees, and on benches. The natural feel of Aldrich Park allows students to have a little escape from stressful tests and school-related tasks. However, students also like to use the park as a place to do their studying. As students wait for their classes to start, many choose to spend time working on homework while sitting in park.
The park isn’t only a place for relaxation and academics, but also an area where various fun events are held. The Associated Students of UCI hold many entertaining concerts such as Wayzgoose and Summerlands at Aldrich Park.
This is also where festivals such as Welcome Week occur. Last year during Welcome Week, the students of UCI set the world record for having the largest pillow fight of all time. These events are meant for students to have a good time. They include enjoyable music, food booths, club booths, and most importantly include people having a good time
At the end of the academic year some Schools at UCI, such as Law and Medicine, hold their graduation ceremony in Aldrich Park. What sets apart these ceremonies apart from the others is that they occur within the heart of UCI, Aldrich Park.
-Quynh Tran, Alicia Adams, Gabby Aguilar