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From Freshman Year To Now: What’s Changed?

It’s that time of year when seniors start getting incredibly nostalgic. Four years might seem pretty short, but even in that small amount of time, Penn State and State College have seriously changed. Get ready for a trip down memory lane as we take a look back at some of the places and programs that have transformed since August 2011.


New HUB Steps Stock

Of course, the HUB has been going through massive renovations since freshman year. Joagies closed while Chick-fil-a, Burger King, a THON store, and Jamba Juice all opened. The bookstore closed and reopened again, and a whole renovation was completed to expand the HUB.

Au Bon Pain

au bon pain

In June of 2013, Au Bon Pain announced it would be coming to Penn State in three locations, taking over what used to be Otto’s Cafe in the Kern Graduate Building, Reese’s Cafe in the IST Building, and the Gallery Café in the Visual Arts building.

IM Building

IM Building

The new IM building opened in March of last year, with completely new gym facilities and a whole new look outside. The building is still undergoing some construction, but it is a huge upgrade to what the building was when we walked onto campus in 2011.

South Halls

South Halls Stock Lyons Hall

South Halls went through a major renovation and reopened at the start of the 2013 semester, adding air conditioning, wifi, sorority suites, and private bathrooms, just to name a few of the new features.

The Arboretum


This summer, a new children’s garden opened up at the arboretum, so now you can literally stand at childhood’s gate. 

The Lion Shrine 

Lion Shrine_Stock_Snow_Morton Lin-5055

The Lion Shrine saw a renovation to the area surrounding it during the summer of 2013, thanks to the 2012 class gift. The shrine officially reopened in September of that year.

Old Main Trees


During 2012’s spring break, Penn State swept in and removed one of the iconic elm trees in front of Old Main because it was infected with “elm yellows,” an incurable disease.

Veteran’s Plaza


The Veteran’s Plaza, a gift from the class of 2011, was dedicated in the name of Lt. Michael Murphy as a tribute to all veterans in Septemeber of 2012.

No More Joe Paterno Statue

1AA Joe Paterno Statue

Sorry, I had to.

University Presidents

Eric Barron. Schreyer House, Feb. 17, 2014.

This year’s senior class has gone through a total of three (!) different university presidents — first Graham Spanier, then Rodney Erickson, and finally, Eric Barron.

Football Coaches

O'Brien Media Day

We have also seen three different head football coaches lead the team in Beaver Stadium — Joe Paterno, Bill O’Brien, and James Franklin. Actually, it’s four if you count Tom Bradley’s interim head coach tenure.

The Pegula Ice Arena

Pegula_Morton Lin

The Pegula Ice Arena opened in 2013 thanks to a $102 million donation from Terry Pegula that was the largest in Penn State history.

Noodles and Company

Noodles and Company
This comfort food favorite opened in September of 2012, filling the spot on the corner of Burrowes Street and College Avenue that was vacant for years after 797 Lounge closed.

Primanti’s Replaced G-Man

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 11.36.55 PM

This year, Pittsburgh favorite Primanti’s opened in the place of the once-beloved G-Man after it closed following multiple problems with the law.



This New Orleans-themed club was only open from from October 2012 to May 2013, months before most of this year’s seniors were of legal drinking age.

Levels Night Club


The popular Levels Nightclub opened in May 2012, taking the place of what once was The Mezzanine.

California Tortilla

California Tortilla Feature

This increasingly popular Mexican restaurant opened toward the end of the fall 2014 semester where Taco Bell was once located before it relocated to its current East College Avenue location.



In one of the most unpopular changes over the past four years, Grillers, a drunk food favorite, officially shut down in July 2013. RIP $1 grilled cheeses.

Local Whiskey

local whiskey bar second

Local Whiskey, affectionately known as ‘The Second,’ opened its doors above the Phyrst in Dec. 2012.

Campus Candy –> The Attic –> Liberty Craft House campus candy

This location has gone through a few different changes during the past four years. When this year’s seniors arrived, it was Campus Candy. After that closed in the summer of 2012, The Attic, a vintage clothing store, opened in its place. The Attic shut down, and this past February Liberty Craft House opened its doors.

Bagel Crust

Bagel Crust Menu Board

Bagel Crust jumped into the State College breakfast market just a year ago in April 2014.

Baja Fresh –> Nathan’s Famous –> Underground Burgers

underground burgers

Underground Burgers and Crepes‘ location was home to two other businesses in the past four years — Baja Fresh and Nathan’s.

Pretzel Factory


The Pretzel Factory, which was once located on Allen Street, moved from its downtown location to Wal-Mart on Benner Pike in June 2013.

Mr. Charles Replaced By Aynthm


Clothing store Mr. Charles closed down and a brand new running store, Aynthm, took over in its place this semester.



Sandwich shop Quiznos, formerly located on Beaver Avenue, sadly closed in March 2014 and is now an apartment rental company’s office.



Starting in the summer of 2013, the overnight New Student Orientation replaced the one-day First-Year Testing, Consulting, and Advising Program that current upperclassmen went through before coming to Penn State.

Old Main Bell

Old Main Bells

The Old Main Bell was changed from a recording of School of Music Professor Dan Armstrong playing a set of chimes to the automated, digital version of the bell in the winter of 2012.


Likely, countless other changes have occurred in the past four years. Did we miss anything? Tell us in the comments below.

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About the Author

Mindy Szkaradnik

Mindy is a senior majoring in Print Journalism, Spanish, and Global and International Studies. She is the 12th member of her family to attend Penn State, she loves Bruce Springsteen, and her friends are always making fun of her for talking too much about study abroad. She can be reached on Twitter (@mszkarad) or via email ([email protected]).


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