View from the Top of the Stadium

This is what I meant to write about yesterday! Last Thursday I had some business over in the football stadium and when it was done I decided to climb all the way up to the top. I’m not sure I would recommend this–it’s uncomfortably, even nauseatingly, steep, a sensation that’s probably enhanced when it’s empty. I had to stare intently at my feet in order to make it up and then down. There are also a lot of pigeons up there. That’s the down side.

On the other hand, the views from up there can take your breath away. They are stunning in and of themselves, but they also gave me an almost visceral shock at the transformed landscape on and around the Rice campus. It’s easier to miss it on the ground, where the changes are slowly assimilated into the patterns of our daily rounds. But up in the air it’s all different, especially when it’s often 1916 inside your head. Just as a reminder, here’s a picture that was taken from the top of the stadium in early 1951:

And here’s one taken from roughly the same spot last week. You can’t even really see the buildings that are so prominent in the earlier shot.

The growth of the Med Center is particularly startling. Here’s one more set of contrasts. This first one is looking southeast from the stadium and the second is looking southwest from the old Physics Building, both towards the dorms. But it’s obviously the background that interests me.

I might put up some more of these pictures later–there are quite a few interesting things in them. And just for fun, here’s a bonus photo. This one blew my mind.

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11 Responses to View from the Top of the Stadium

  1. wunderwood says:

    I’ve been up there. It is a looong way down. The idea was to take photos of Beer-Bike, but the race was so far away from up there. They were all ants.

  2. Melissa Kean says:

    Yeah, I still get queasy just thinking about it.

  3. Grungy says:

    Were you at the top of the upper deck or the top of the photo deck on the press box?

  4. Bud Thomas says:

    RE: The Stadium

    I’ve heard folklore that the Upper Deck is fully supported by the four brick structures, and that the concrete columns were added later because early attendees didn’t feel safe without further (cosmetic?) structure.


    • Melissa Kean says:

      I don’t know about that . . . . but I didn’t feel real safe even with the columns. There’s only one thing that could get me back up there — a better camera.

      • wunderwood says:

        I think it is the other way around. The upper deck is supported by reinforced concrete and cantilevered out. The big brick columns are cosmetic. One of them holds the elevator to the pressbox, so I guess they serve some function. Oh, and the bathrooms are in those, right?

        The pressbox feels a bit more secure, plus you can ride the elevator instead of climbing the stairs.

  5. Bud Thomas says:

    Bedd-dy interr-restink!

    I really don’t know, but have long wondered. The whole built-in-nine-or-so-months-and-at-cost thing(Thanks, Browns and Roots) is still a source of pride here.

    And if you think walking up the U-D is work, try running up it with a few coaches blowing whistles up your Asstrodome.

    End rants.

  6. Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT says:

    Once I commented somewhere* about the story of the extra “supports” having had to be built because of fear of the upper decks without them.
    Some gentleman took me to task because he knew that the architect, McGinty, would NOT have built such a thing.
    I told him I would ask my 1956 classmate, Jack McGinty, what he knew about his father’s building of the stadium and that myth (?).
    Unfortunately, I can’t remember whether I ever asked Jack, and if I did I don’t remember the answer.**

    * I believe it may have been at a Rice CE course sometime in the past 10-20 years.

    ** It’s hell to be old, Marving Zindler!

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