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Berkeley, California

UC Berkeley's Nobel Laureate Parking Spaces

The Laureates here get something even more coveted than a Nobel Prize: free parking for life. 

The Nobel is the world’s most prestigious award for academic, cultural, and scientific advances. A Nobel Laureate will, apart from the award money, get a medal and diploma right from the hands of the Swedish king. But for some, there is more to winning the prize than international prestige and a fatter bank account: a parking space on an overcrowded campus.

At the University of California, Berkeley, it’s easy to spot the bright blue signs marked “Reserved For NL/Special Permit Required At All Times.” NL stands for Nobel Laureate, of course, and the spaces are reserved for the elite faculty who worked tirelessly for decades to win some coveted parking.

The Berkeley tradition dates back to 1980, when Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He wanted a spot, so he simply asked for one. The parking wish was granted, and it’s since become standard practice—one that apparently sticks in the craw of the Laureates over at Stanford.

Know Before You Go

Five of the parking spots can be found on University Drive, outside Campbell Hall (Physics). There are two more behind Latimer Hall (Chemistry), and one over at Evans Hall (Economics).

Be careful if you visit UC Berkeley: a ticket can set you back some bucks (to say nothing of the shade you'll get from a Nobel Prize winner).