A Panoramic Shot of the Back Side of the Formal Opening, October 1912

This Schlueter photograph was hanging on the wall of a colleague’s office, unnoticed by me for a period of years:

Rice_Institute_Schueter_Panoramic001You have to zoom in on it to see how remarkable it really is. (It’s big so it might take a minute.) The cars alone transfixed me for quite some time, then I saw the kids on bicycles at the Sallyport and only later noticed that the academic procession is going on off to the left. To the right, though, work goes on. They didn’t stop even for this grand event. That’s what you call focus.

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6 Responses to A Panoramic Shot of the Back Side of the Formal Opening, October 1912

  1. Melinda Clark says:

    What a fabulous photo and unique point of view of that historic occasion!

  2. marmer01 says:

    Thanks, Melissa. There is a giant transition in automobiles coming up, and it hasn’t happened yet. This picture is really cool. First, there are no Model T’s visible. All of these cars are expensive luxury vehicles. I’m pretty sure that the second car back on the left is a 1912 Cadillac, with electric lights and even electric starter (this was the first car to have it.) The car in front of it has acetylene or Prest-o-lite lamps. You can see the difference easily. Also, these cars are all right hand drive. Ford’s Model T was the real force behind the switch to left-hand drive and it wasn’t yet ubiquitous (as it would be by the end of WWI) I think, although I’m not sure, that the car just behind the Cadillac is a Duryea horseless carriage from the 1890’s although I guess it’s possible that it is a “horsed” carriage and the horse or horses are off grazing. There are a couple of men in long “duster” coats to keep the road dust off of their black suits. I can’t tell for sure what kind of car they are looking at so intently; maybe a Locomobile or Pierce Arrow based on the fender shape. It’s not a Cadillac or Packard. Might be another Cadillac right behind it. Looks like it has electric lights too.

    • Richard Schafer says:

      Thanks for pointing out the right-hand drive. I hadn’t realized that the Model T made that change, too. What struck me was that every one of these older cars were canvas-topped convertibles. What a wonderful photograph!

      • There were a few closed coupes, like the Detroit Electric, and even rarer custom-bodied limousines, but generally what we now consider sedans, especially with operable windows, were not part of the automobile mass market. As with other things like electric lighting and left hand drive, this was the beginnings of a big period of transition and by the 1920s closed sedans with crank windows were much more commonly found. Mass production by Ford and the GM brands did have something to do with that.

  3. C Kelly says:

    This is fantastic, but not only for its aesthetics. I work at the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation. Frank Schlueter took many, many photographs of Sugar Land back at its beginning over 100 years ago. This is the first time I have evidence he took panoramic photos. I don’t think his name appears on any of the panoramas in our collection. I’ll have to check them all more closely.

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