Northwestern's Campus and Evanston

As your home away from home, Northwestern's campus blends the historic and the modern to create a welcoming, comfortable, and productive home base for our 8,000 undergraduate students. Just steps from campus and a short train ride north of Chicago, Evanston is the perfect combination of college town and bustling small city.

When the Chicago Tribune recently wrote about neighborhoods around Chicago, downtown Evanston was rated number one. "Who needs downtown Chicago? Evanston residents have on their doorstep movie theaters, bookstores, new and used record stores, and their own symphony, not to mention choice live theater and music venues. Spend a day browsing in Bookman's Alley, rocking at Reckless Records, and sipping latte at the coffee joint Kafein, and you won't miss the city a bit."

Northwestern's campus and Evanston are communities our students are happy to call home; they quickly develop strong feelings about their favorite spots on campus and in Evanston. The list below represents a small sample of must-see places.

Campus Must-Sees and Safety

The Rock

At Northwestern, "The Rock" represents an age-old tradition. This magnificent hunk of Baraboo quartzite, which originally contained a water fountain, was given to the University by the Class of 1902. In the 1940s students began painting the Rock, first as a prank, then as an accepted avenue of free expression. In order to claim painting rights, students must camp out for 24 hours to "guard" the Rock. Over the years the Rock has displayed a lot of different messages, including advertisements for student groups, birthday wishes, and even a marriage proposal.


The 85-acre lakefill was added to the campus in 1962 as a result of the University's need to expand campus facilities. The University trucked in dirt, limestone, and sand from the Indiana Dunes in order to create the extra acres of lakeside property. In addition to supporting the Northwestern University Library, the Norris University Center, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, and the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion and Norris Aquatics Center (SPAC), the Lakefill also serves as a great spot for studying and picnicking as well as jogging and biking. On a clear night, it provides breathtaking views of the Chicago skyline.

Shakespeare Garden

Set aside from the rest of the campus, this tribute to The Bard offers sweet respite to all who need it. The garden sprung forth in 1915 when the Drama League of America gathered several commemorative ideas to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare (1616). Every plant in the garden was either mentioned in Shakespeare's plays or commonly grew in Tudor England. Tucked away behind the Technological Institute, the Shakespeare Garden has always allowed students to trade the hustle and bustle of student life for quiet reflection.

Deering Library

Built in 1932 and modeled after King's College in Cambridge, this quiet campus attraction is beautiful inside and out. Deering houses the University's Art, Music, and Special Collections, as well as the University Archives. Deering Library remains a popular study space for students who want to groove to some classic tunes (in the expansive music listening library) or read by the light coming through the stained-glass windows.

Block Museum of Art

The Chicago area is renowned for phenomenal museums, and the Block Museum of Art is no exception. This glass and limestone structure includes several temporary galleries, as well as the Theo Leffman Gallery, which displays the textile works of Theo Leffman. Block Cinema, located on the main floor, screens experimental and classic films throughout the year.


The Henry Crown and Sports Pavilion and Aquatic Center (SPAC) is the main athletic facility on the north end of campus. SPAC contains an Olympic-size swimming and diving pool, squash and racquetball courts, a weight room, exercise equipment, aerobics classes, basketball courts, state-of-the-art tennis facilities, and a one-eighth mile track (with a view of the lake, to boot). Northwestern students get free access to SPAC as well as the other gym on campus.


Northwestern University is committed to maintaining a safe environment for our students, faculty, and staff. As provided by the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990, now known as the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, you are entitled to request and receive a copy of Northwestern University's Annual Security and Fire Safety Report. This report includes statistics for the previous 3 years concerning reported crimes that occurred on campus; in certain off-campus buildings or property owned or controlled by Northwestern University; and on public property within, or immediately adjacent to and accessible from campus. The report also includes institutional policies concerning campus security, such as policies on drug use, crime prevention, the reporting of crimes, sexual assault, and other matters. You can obtain a copy of this report by contacting the Northwestern University Police Department Deputy Chief at (847) 491-3256. The report can also be accessed and printed from the University Police website at

Evanston Must-Sees

The Lakefront Beaches

Located at both the north and south ends of campus, Evanston's beaches are popular places for students to relax.

Shopping and Dining

Downtown Evanston boasts staples such as The Gap, Ann Taylor Loft, Barnes and Noble, and The North Face; plus its own share of chic and affordable boutiques, outdoor activity stores, antique shops, speciality stores, and art galleries. Evanston is also known as the "dining capital of the North Shore" and boasts hundreds of eateries with a great mix of price ranges and ethnic genres.

Bookman's Alley

Hidden in the alley between Church and Clark, Bookman's Alley is a gem, selling books, antiques, and even old musical instruments. Visitors can enjoy paging through magazines from the 1950s, sheet music from the 1920s, and early editions of books that defy time altogether.

Grosse Point Lighthouse

Constructed in 1873, the Grosse Point Lighthouse is one of the most interesting landmarks in Evanston. Over the summer, the Lighthouse offers a tour of the Keeper's Quarters Museum and a chance to climb up the 141 steps to the top of the light tower (for a small fee). The Lighthouse is often considered to be the symbol of the city of Evanston.

The Baha'i Temple

The Baha'i Temple may be one of the most beautiful buildings in the entire North Shore area. The nine-sided architectural beauty, surrounded by lush gardens, is one of the only seven Baha'i temples in the world. The structure's unique design has prompted many Northwestern students to add it to their jogging routes over the years.