The USC campus is home to some iconic statues, and it only takes a short walk around campus to spot at least a few of them. Some are popular photo op spots while others are considered hidden gems. Below are just a few of the best statues at USC.
Tommy Trojan is probably the most iconic statue on our campus. It’s likely we all have pictures of us as prospective or newly admitted students doing the typical “fight-on” pose in front of the statue. Maybe it was even your profile picture for awhile. It was dedicated in 1930 in honor of the semicentennial anniversary of the university. Along the base, one can read the words “faithful, scholarly, skillful, courageous and ambitious,” words that are supposed to represent the ideal qualities of a Trojan. Although we’ve all seen it a million times on the way to class, it’s so iconic that it deserves No. 1.
While many people mistakenly believe that Tommy Trojan is our mascot, true Trojans know that it’s actually Traveler. It’s probably the second most iconic statue on campus, again popular for photos, located right in the center of campus across from Tommy Trojan. Although our mascot has appeared at our games since 1961, the statue was gifted to the University in 2010.
George Tirebiter guards the entrance to campus from Exposition, and is the ex-USC mascot. Legend has it that when Trousdale was a street with regular traffic on it, the original Tirebiter would chase the cars and bite their tires. Although we changed our mascot, it’s still good luck to pet him before football games!
You might not recognize the name of this statue, but you have definitely seen it. This statue is of a dancing figure in the fountain in front of Doheny Memorial Library. What is particularly magical about this statue is that it seems to take on particular characteristics and emotions depending on the angle it is viewed from. The statue currently standing is the second cast of the statute, since the first was damaged by falling trees.
USC Cinematic Arts Statue
The beautiful USC School of Cinematic Arts has two statues within its gates. The most recognizable is of actor Douglas Fairbanks who triumphantly holds a script in one hand and a sword in the other. Fairbanks was a famous actor of the early 1900s and one of the founders of SCA, which is the oldest film school in the country. Go see this statue at night, when the building and surrounding fountain is all lit up!
If you walk toward the School of Cinematic Arts (SCI) building, you will find the statue of Edward Muybridge, an innovator in the field of motion pictures. When Leland Stanford wanted to find out if a horse was ever fully airborne while galloping, he hired Muybridge who rigged a series of twelve cameras that captured the truth — that a horse does in face have all four feet off the ground at one point while running. His work created an early form of stop motion. See if you can spot how the statue depicts this story.
If you want to be inspired by one of our famous alumni, take a second to find the Neil Armstrong statue and realize that USC can take your future to the stars! This statue is located in the engineering quad and depicts him in a spacesuit and holding his helmet beside him. Armstrong attended USC for a graduate degree in aerospace engineering before being the first person to set foot on the moon in 1969.
Harris Hall & Watt Hall Lawn Sculpture Garden
This sculpture garden holds a variety of pieces, and is hidden right off of Exposition Boulevard. Four of the sculptures in the garden are by Marc Lere. His large geometric shapes were specifically designed to appeal to different senses. In 2007, they were moved from the Staples Center to USC.
Also in this area is the statue Crouching Bather near the entrance to Fisher Art Gallery. This piece holds some interesting history, in that the artist, Antoine Bourdelle, was an assistant to Rodin as well as Giacometti’s teacher.
Did you know we also have an artifact on our campus? Right by Taper Hall is the Trojan Column, a piece of granite from the Roman Empire that was probably found near the site of the city of Troy.