I’ve heard from several people in the comments and in emails expressing puzzlement about this photo:
Wh–?? Where did those palm trees come from?? Didn’t they plant oaks there very early?? Unfortunately, I’m out of town at a meeting today (hence the early post) so I can’t dig out the best pictures of this situation. I do have some images on my laptop, though, that can at least give us a glimpse of how this area was set up for quite a long time. Here’s a picture from 1918. It’s subject is the “Math 210 Belles,” but it’s helpful for our purposes today because if you click on it to zoom in you can see the baby palms behind them to the left. Note a couple of things: the building corner on the far left is the physics amphitheater and the high fence behind it all surrounds the tennis courts, which is the current site of Duncan Hall.
Now here’s an aerial shot from 1933. This one you have to click on twice to get a good look at. See there right behind the physics amphitheater and across from the tennis courts? There they are, in a circular bed that sits right smack in the middle of where the sidewalk goes today.
(Just by the way, you can also see in this picture the tennis court at the Faculty Club.)