The Freshman Fishwrap / IHTFP Gallery

CP Car on the Great Dome

Location: The ``Great Dome'' (Building 10)
Date: Monday May 9, 1994 (The last day of classes)

Throughout the years, one of the favorite sites of hacks has been the ``Great Dome,'' the large classical dome that sits atop Building 10. In May of 1994, inspired hackers created what might just become one of the most famous Dome hacks of all time, by placing what appeared to be a real MIT Campus Police cruiser on top of the dome, complete with flashing lights.

The car turned out to be the outer metal parts of a Chevrolet Cavalier attached to a multi-piece wooden frame, all carefully assembled on the roof over the course of one night. The hackers paid special attention to detail. Not only had the Chevy been painted to look just like a Campus Police car from all sides, but a dummy dressed up as a police officer sat within, with a toy disc gun and a box of donuts. The car, numbered ``pi,'' also sported a pair of fuzzy dice, the license number ``IHTFP,'' an MIT Campus Police parking ticket (``no permit for this location''), and a yellow diamond-shaped sign on the back window proclaiming ``I break for donuts.''

People first began noticing the hack early in the morning, just before sunrise, when passers by spotted the flashing lights on top of the building.

Local people, reporters, and camera crews began to gather around 8, smiling, talking, taking pictures, and just generally watching as MIT Physical Plant began the slow dismantling of the car. Several helicopters even came to look, circling close around the Great Dome.

By 10 a.m., the car was gone --- but not from the public's eye, for the media took care of the rest. Not only did the local TV stations air footage of the car --- some of which later wound up on national news --- but the AP story (available on the Web to MIT people via Athena) spread to newspapers around the globe, from California to Korea and even Israel. If the hack's goal was to amuse and entertain --- the purpose of the vast majority of hacks at MIT --- this hack was among MIT's most successful.

Here at MIT, students also seemed to appreciate the hack. On Monday evening, a slide at the Lecture Series Committe (LSC) movie read ``MISSING: one white and blue patrol car. If found, call x3-1212.'' The number is, of course, the local number for the MIT Campus Police.

As an interesting side note, though the television broadcasts reported a wailing police siren in addition to the lights, witnesses at the site insist that there was no such sound.

More pictures of the CP Car on the Great Dome
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