Free Speech Monument – Berkeley, California - Atlas Obscura

Free Speech Monument

This subtle Berkeley paving stone actually marks off a lawless tube of air that extends into space. 


Sitting on the quad of California’s Berkeley college is an unassuming monument to the Free Speech Movement that one could easily miss even though it supposedly consists of an endless tube of unregulated space that rises forever upward into space. 

Located in front of Sproul Hall, the monument was set flat into the walkway in 1989. The physical portion of the monument is simply a round cement stone with the a bold statement carved around its perimeter reading, “This soil and the air space extending above it shall not be a part of any nation and shall not be subject to any entity’s jurisdiction.” In the center of the stone disc is a small hole that simply holds a patch of soil, but it is the invisible space rising directly above the hole that is the actual monument. As the disc says, this tiny tube of unregulated space is meant to be a place where protesters, free thinkers, and spitfires can say whatever the hell they like, and as it is worded, that privilege extends all the way into space and beyond.

As with many college campus’ the regulations on public assembly and speech have become more stringent on the Berkeley campus in recent years, causing many to view the Free Speech Monument as a bit of an ironic failure. However anyone that would like to give their opinion on the space can simply lean into that invisible tube and shout about it all they want.   

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