To visit Gandalf, Bilbo Baggins, and their friends, just take Ring Road to Middle Earth—at UC Irvine. In 1974, students voted to name the new dorms Middle Earth. Each building is named for a character or place from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” or “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, including Mirkwood and Rohan. Middle Earth has grown to 24 residence halls, two dining facilities (Brandywine and Pippin Commons), the Bucklebury Study Lounge, the Helms Deep Fitness Center, and more. Back in the ’90s, even the university’s email servers had Tolkien-related names. Sadly, O.C.’s own Middle Earth looks nothing like the Shire.
Chris Jepsen is the O.C. Answer Man. Have a question? Send it to email@example.com.