Tripping on the Horseshoe bricks is inescapable and embarrassing, and being told that it’s bound to happen doesn't make it feel any better. Despite this, the long-standing history and traditions — such as tripping — from the Horseshoe have helped to make the student experience for many years.
There are many reasons for students to be attracted to the Horseshoe's atmosphere. It is a central focus for the university and a never-ending feature of campus tours and photography. Its scenic views are an important part of the university.
The park-like area creates a safe place for students, which can make it easier to relax, according to Hannah Glassie, a fourth-year public health student.
Students find peace at the Horseshoe because it’s calming, but also because it reminds students of where they come from.
“I came to USC because it was a big school, but it seems small because of the campus, and I think a big part of that is the Horseshoe; (it) makes it feel like it’s one, like, united space,” Sophie Grimsley, a fourth-year environmental science student, said.
According to Anna Grace Maher, a first-year pre-business student, her favorite part of the Horseshoe is the feeling it gives her. For her, being between the trees, the sun and the ambiance of the area remind her of home.
Other than the atmosphere of the Horseshoe, the history remains a central part of the university. The historical buildings create the shape of the Horseshoe. The brick pathways students walk on were once dirt, and the brick walls, which act as one of the entrances to the Horseshoe, were originally there to keep students in at night. Later, they became the protector of the Horseshoe, preventing fire from spreading to campus during the Civil War.
“While you’re sitting there, you know, there were students at one time looking at this same tree in 1920,” Chris Horn, director of editorial projects on campus, said.
Generations go by, and yet, students tend to stay almost the same. The Horseshoe remains an area where students can focus on work or indulge in hobbies and passions outside of schoolwork. Not as much separates students as they might think; nothing beats how almost every student has tripped over the bricks. It’s a rite of passage heightened by the shoes students tend to wear.
“I have one pair of shoes that had, like, all the tread worn off, and whenever it was raining I’d slip on all the bricks while I was walking to class,” Grimsley said.
Being uneven enough to trip over isn’t all the bricks are known for. A big tradition for the Horseshoe is for graduates to purchase a brick engraved with their name, and anything else they wish to include on it, when they graduate as a way to forever include the students that walked these pathways.
“It’s something I’m going to remember about the Horseshoe after I graduate and when I move somewhere else,” Glassie said.
With these bricks, the school tells a story and allows students to leave their mark. There are generations of students who still have a place at USC due to these bricks; they’re a way to not be forgotten. One of the best parts of this tradition is the length in which it lasts.
"I guess you could carve your initials into a tree, but that wouldn’t be very nice, and after a while, they would fade away; so, presumably, the bricks will be out there for a long time,” Horn said.
These bricks are living history; a tradition that keeps students' presence alive well after they’ve left the university. Almost everyone takes a tumble, but the Horseshoe is still a place where students can find peace and home throughout the day.