The Union Terrace – Madison, Wisconsin

Hi everyone,

This week’s post features another place (it’s not only the place but a vibe or energy) that keeps us in Madison, the UW Memorial Union Terrace. The Terrace (as it is known locally) sits on the shores Lake Mendota on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It’s the outdoor space of the Memorial Union. The history of the Terrace began during its construction during the late 1920’s. It’s original purpose was to host events for students and faculty but soon became a favorite gathering spot (especially during fair weather) for students, parents, faculty, alumni, local residents and tourists. Here’s a view of the Terrace taken from the second level of the Memorial Union.Union Terrace-0422

The history of the Terrace wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the famous “sunburst” Terrace chairs. They apparently made their first appearance in the mid 1930’s and soon became the symbol of the Terrace. The chairs come in three colors; John Deere green and Allis Chalmers orange and yellow to pay tribute to Wisconsin’s agricultural heritage. For some reason, many of my photos are of the orange chairs, maybe because we had some Allis Chalmers tractors when I was growing up! The second photo was taken on a windy, spring day just after the chairs were set out. I had to be quick so as not to get my camera equipment or me wet!Union Terrace-8263Union Terrace-0568

While the Terrace has undergone a recent renovation, it has become more popular than ever, with a new music stage, addition and updated seating and more options to purchase food and beverages! On a typical summer Friday or Saturday evening, thousands of people gather to socialize, listen to music, and promenade on the Lakeshore path. Visitors can listen to the water of Lake Mendota splash against the shore, watch sailboats and canoe’s come into the nearby docks, watch the sunsets, and just plain enjoys the pleasant evening. Union Terrace-9908Union Terrace-4757Union Terrace-8247

The boat docks not only serve as a place to dock a boat(the reason they are there!), but also as sitting to enjoy the ambience.Union Terrace-4267Union Terrace-2397Union Terrace-2276Union Terrace-2232IMG_1229IMG_0809

It’s also a great place for people watching. Don’t you often wonder what their stories are?Union Terrace-0247Union Terrace-0053Union Terrace-2268IMG_0782

And sometimes romance is in the air as depicted by this couple sharing some dock space and watching the sunset.Union Terrace-0257

One is rarely disappointed with a bad sunset at the Terrace. It’s interesting to watch people line up with their iPhones or cameras to take those sunset photos. Here are a few that I’ve taken over the years, I’m confident that I have hundreds of them! But everyone is a bit different.Union Terrace-8291Union Terrace-8274Union Terrace-2390IMG_0786

Even during the off season, the Terrace and lakefront is in use by students enjoying a sunny, somewhat warm winter day.Union Terrace-2026Union Terrace-7644

Nearby, the boats provide opportunities for some nice photos.Union Terrace-2378Union Terrace-4264Union Terrace-0264Union Terrace-0253Union Terrace-0249

On most weekends, the Memorial Union is host to several weddings, one must plan a few years in advance to secure a choice spot. Photographers often use the Terrace as a place for some outdoor photos. I don’t do weddings but couldn’t help but take this photo from a distance!Union Terrace-4262

And after the sunsets, visitors can make their way up State Street for more action, interesting food, or just a stroll four or five blocks to the Capitol.Union Terrace-3087

So that’s the Terrace. Hope you enjoyed the photos and they made you want to visit this iconic stop here in beautiful Madison, Wisconsin.

Take care and until next week,




8 thoughts on “The Union Terrace – Madison, Wisconsin

  1. University of Wisconsin rated top party school. This weeks blog brought back memories of my time in Madison. Tom your blog is informative, interesting, and enjoyable to read. Keep them coming!

  2. Great pictures! And you have done weddings. One of my daughter’s favorite pictures is one you took of her and her husband at their wedding reception which just happened to be at the Union.

    1. I kind of remember taking some photos at your daughter’s wedding. I will take wedding photos as a favor and not as the main photographer, clients couldn’t afford it as it is a nerve racking business!

Comments are closed.