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The San Jose State University bell located between Clark Hall and Dudley Moorhead was engineered in 1932. It was originally designed to be a swing-arm lamp by Robert B. Clark. At the time lamp was designed, the strip between The Central Classroom building and Tower hall was a narrow one-way street and the rose garden was part of a local park owned by The City of San Jose. The area was infamous for frequent collision accidents between pedestrians and motor vehicle traffic due to the low light source in the area. After the major crash of 1931, a local city right's group collected more than a thousand signatures on a petition that demanded the city to take action to improve the light source in the area to prevent further accidents.

The city of San Jose lacked the funding to install multiple light posts on the street, therefore invested public funding into building a single lamp to provide light for the area. The city hired a young Robert B. Clark to engineer the lamp. Unfortunately, Clark miscalculated the weight of the lamp’s head on the hinges making the lamp unable to stay upright, thus causing the lamp to point downward taking the appearance of a bell. The City of San Jose decided it was too expensive to deconstruct the lamp or fix the hinges, so the “bell” remained in the park for many years.

When San Jose State University purchased the street and park for the 1962 campus extension project, they made the decision to keep the ill-shapen lamp in the campus design where it is now known as the Bell Memorial.

Briannah Thomas