For many years students used to perch a Christmas tree on top of Throop Hall, Caltech’s first building, which hosted labs and offices for the Engineering and Applied Sciences Division, as well as the campus administrative offices.
Following the February 1971 San Fernando earthquake, a magnitude 6.6 event, the building was deemed unsafe; and at the end of 1972, its demolition was imminent.
Nevertheless, the students put up their tree according to the tradition. On December 20 the wrecking crew removed it, but in the spirit of the season they put it back up again for the holiday weekend.
The last Christmas tree to adorn the cupola fell with the wreckage (see demolition photo). Later the wrecking company donated a full-grown tree for planting on the Throop site.