Legends of UCI’s Underground Tunnels


The legend goes that a subterranean tunnel system was built beneath Ring Mall during the 1960s as an escape route for faculty and an entry point for the National Guard in case of student protests.

What was the purpose? When was it built? Where are they? Are they still in use? Where is the entrance? and so on…

After much digging into the archives at UCI, we found some answers to our many questions.

The tunnels really do exist underneath the campus, but their purpose is far more practical. They house an intricate system of heating and cooling pipes as well as electric, phone and data wires.

The underground network of tunnels run between many of the major buildings on campus and Central Plant, with the major trunk passage located beneath Ring Road. Smaller tunnels branch off from its main passage to reach individual buildings, carrying electrical and air-conditioning utilities from the Central Plant.

The main tunnel actually appears above ground in the form of an unusually thick bridge near the Engineering Tower, in an area where Ring Road crosses between two hills.

We also found out that UCI is not the only unversity with underground tunnels! Other universities such as UCLA, Stanford and Johns Hopkins also have them.

Happy adventure!

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