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Rain or shine, it’s Terrace time

April 13, 2022 By Käri Knutson

Setting up chairs isn’t usually newsworthy.

I mean, they’re CHAIRS. You sit on them. That’s it. End of story.

But the Terrace chairs aren’t just any old chairs.


As sure as seeing the first robin, the setting up of the Terrace chairs at Memorial Union is a welcome sign of spring.

After a long winter in storage, the chairs came out April 13, ready for sunshine, a view of Lake Mendota and being the best seats on campus for studying, catching up with friends or just plain daydreaming.

Some years, opening Terrace day is filled with blue skies. Sometimes, like today, you better bring your umbrella. Or parka.

But we’ve been doing this awhile. We know the deal. And we have 148 days to enjoy before the start of the fall semester.

Terrace by the numbers

1928: Year Memorial Union opened, specifically Oct. 5, 1928. “The Union is a living room, which converts the University from a house of learning into a home of learning,” UW–Madison President Glenn Frank said at the opening ceremony.

1933: Year several versions of metal chairs began replacing the original wooden Terrace chairs. One was an early version of the classic stamped-metal Sunburst style. Another was the Deauville, which featured a sunburst shape on the seat and the back using curved strips of steel.

1954: Year Bermuda shorts were recognized as acceptable dress in the Union Cafeteria and Rathskeller, as well as on the Terrace. Whew.

1981: Year Wisco Industries in Oregon, Wisconsin, was commissioned to make the now-iconic “sunburst” chairs.

3: Number of colors — John Deere green, Allis Chalmers orange and sunshine yellow, all named to pay tribute to Wisconsin farming traditions and mirror the best seasons in Wisconsin: fall, summer, and spring.

40,000: Approximate number of square feet of accessible outdoor entertainment at Memorial Union Terrace.

8,000,005: Number of selfies taken at the Terrace (approximately)

62: High temperature in degrees April 13

31: Low temperature in degrees April 13

70: Days until summer

7 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Spring hours (April 13 through May 1) the Terrace is open Mondays through Thursdays

7 a.m. to midnight: Hours open Fridays

8 a.m. to midnight: Hours open Saturdays

8 a.m. to 11 p.m.: Hours open Sundays

$15.50: Cost of a mini Terrace chair, guaranteeing you a seat all year