Dating a New Picture of the Academic Quad

Oddly enough, there was an old picture of the academic quad in the folder I found the other day that was full of shots of biomedical engineering in the late 1960s. It’s very pretty and it illustrates nicely why they had to move commencement to the front of the Administration Building as enrollment grew:

But how old is it? I’m not sure–there’s a kind of timelessness to his area that makes it hard to accurately date. The first clue that jumps out are the bulletin boards on the outside of the building but I don’t know when those went away. It turns out that the state of the cypress trees is probably the best way to at least narrow the time frame down.

The first thing I did was count them. I might be the only person on earth who knows that their number has changed over time–sometimes there are seven on a side, other times eight. This looks like seven to me, although it can be kind of tricky to get it right because they sometimes split near the top. If you zoom in on this next image, which was taken in 1933, you can see that there are eight to a side:

This next one was taken on December 31, 1940. (It’s pretty spectacular, by the way. Check out that stadium view!) Zoom in and you see seven to a side, with the south row showing the same cypress, yew, cypress, cypress, yew, unidentifiable scraggly little thing, cypress lineup as in the first photo:

But we’re also confronted with the problem of where the top photo was taken from, which seems to me to have been an elevated position. Could this have been taken during or after Fondren construction? Maybe so:

1952 is too late–look at how bad the hedges between Willy and Lovett look in this image, nothing like the lush growth in the top picture:

So long story short, this was a lot of work to guess that the photo was taken sometime between the late 1930s and the late 1940s. I hope Marty Merritt will be able to squint through the sallyport and be able to tell something about the cars but they’re so small and hazy that I’m not counting on it. We may just have to live with a wild estimate.

Now I’m going to go have a glass of wine. I seriously thought this would be an easy post!

Bonus: Eight to a side these days.

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12 Responses to Dating a New Picture of the Academic Quad

  1. Squinting through the Sallyport in the first picture, I see cars with 2-piece windshields. This seems to confirm your date range. Most cars with 2-piece windshields were manufactured before the mid-fifties.

    Although it is very foreshortened, can you draw a clue based on what the area in front of (outside the quad) the Administrative Building/Lovett Hall looks like? Do you have any dated photos which show the evolution of that area?

  2. Marty Merritt (Hanszen 84/85) says:

    I believe we have, from left to right, a teeny-tiny Crosley CC from 1946-48, a 1946 or 1947 Hudson, and a 1947 Chevrolet. Deborah is right about the two-piece windshields. The Crosley microcar is by far the most distinctive thing here.

  3. marmer01 says:

    Also, Woodallen Photography was founded in Houston in 1946, and they are still in business as a commercial photo company.

  4. marmer01 says:

    The picture is less fuzzy than you made it sound. That could have been a lot harder with just a little blur (and without the photographer’s logo)

  5. marmer01 says:

    And I completely agree about the first picture being taken from somewhere on Fondren. Roof over the quad entrance, maybe?

  6. effegee says:

    To me, the angle looks like it was shot lower than the top of Fondren. How about out of a window in the 2nd or 3rd floor “lounge” areas over the quad entrance? Didn’t those windows open once upon a time?

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