A 1919 Aerial Opens Another Can of Worms

Here’s another great example of how even the simplest picture can present time consuming questions.

I found this very early aerial shot of campus a while ago–I think it was in William Ward Watkin’s papers–and set it aside until just now. It doesn’t look like much but something caught my attention. Look at the perfect rectangle the surrounds the parking lot:

New aerial 1919

That’s pretty interesting. I’d guess those are sidewalks, which sort of makes sense, at least on the south side where students and faculty would be going back and forth between the Administration Building and Main Street. The north sidewalk is harder to explain and I’m especially interested that they bothered to square off the corners. I wonder what the thinking was here. It seems odd to make a design choice that can only really be appreciated from up in the air.

(Note that there’s a second, smaller rectangle coming off the front of the Mech Lab. That’s a double hedge and it stayed there, destroying the ability of students to make angled shortcuts, for a really long time.)

So of course I needed to know the history of those walkways. Take a look at this 1933 aerial and you’ll find that they seem to have grassed over, although the trees remain along the north line and it looks like newer ones (or are they some kind of large shrub?) have been planted along the south line:

Aerial 1933 11th Photo Sec ac Tx Nat Guard

But were they really gone? According to George Miner the north walk was there in 1950 but the little piece that squared off the corner is gone:

New George Miner surveying 2

And you can catch a glimpse of this walk–and what are indeed shrubs rather than trees on both sides–in this image from commencement in 1952:

Commencement 1952 Founder's Court setup

Looking the other direction at commencement in 1954, the south walk is also there. I was completely thrown for a loop, though, that the vegetation here is also shrubbery. Really, I didn’t see that coming at all.

New commencement 1954 in parking lot

So I guess those walks stayed there, minus the squared off corners, all the way until we flipped the pavement and the grass, which I believe was in 1960. Today they’re the middle of the U-shaped drive around Founder’s Court.

I won’t tell you how long it took me to figure this out.



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5 Responses to A 1919 Aerial Opens Another Can of Worms

  1. grungy1973 says:

    Bonner’s sign!!!
    Yes! Where was it being hidden/stored?

  2. John Miner says:

    Not sure about the photo, but I’d trust Dad’s information anytime!

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