I spent part of this afternoon looking though some old scans and when I saw this one I realized we haven’t had a good aerial in quite a while. I think this one is especially nice, clear and taken from an angle we don’t often see, with most of campus visible:
When I first saw this one I was misled by the vast emptiness of the concrete surrounding the stadium. I assumed the date must be close to 1950 but with only a moments thought it’s obvious that that’s wrong. Rayzor Hall seems to be there and Ryon Lab is not (but might it be under construction?), which would make this somewhere between 1962 and 1965. The other thing that had me confused was the mess in the fields east of the stadium. I initially thought that must have been debris from the stadium construction but that clearly can’t be right 15 years after it was finished. So what is it?
Bonus: I took these the first week of March at one of the least photographed spots on campus. The only other picture of it I’ve seen was taken from a different angle here, showing very different landscaping in 1942.
The photo appears to show that Ryon Lab’s epic below-ground area is being excavated. Could “the mess in the fields” be truck loads of dirt from that digging … dumped there, perhaps, in an attempt to make those areas less marsh-like for future football parking … and, longer-term, new buildings?
Those look like dump truck loads of dirt.
Raising the level of the fields.
I was struck by the fact that the Space Science building was missing. Somehow, I’d always assumed that all three of those buildings had been built at the same time.
Space Science still had a construction fence when I took the Biology “achievement test” in June of 1967.
The fields east of the stadium were used for parking for games, so it is likely fill to repair the wear and tear. I recall walking from the grass to the paved parking lot for Baylor at Rice in 1959.
Melissa, back in the day when there would be sell outs at Rice Stadium, the green space east of the stadium parking lot would be totally filled with parked cars. I remember that area being totally filled with cars all the way to the RMC as late as 1973 when Rice played contenders such as UT, A & M, and LSU. If the ground was dry, there would be no problem. But if we had had recent rains, those fields would become gigantic muddy messes. Because of the spotty patchwork, my guess is that after the football season, the landscapers added some soil and/or sand to level out the turf and to promote the growth of new grass.
It rained for the week before Super Bowl VIII held at Rice Stadium in January 1974. The soggy practice fields were full. After the game four of us pushed cars out of the mud for $5 a car. We made enough for dinner that night.
I matriculated in fall of 1966. My recollections are as follows. The Space Science building existed, as did Ryon Lab. In addition to parking cars at football games against large school foes with massive alumni populations in the Houston area, like the three that Steve mentioned (and a couple others with almost as large an alum contingent), the grassy area across the street from the field house and bordered on the south by the Stadium parking lot was used for band practice and, perhaps occasionally, for football practice before artificial turf was added to the stadium circa 1970. I don’t recall it becoming especially muddy, so the theories about additional soil might hold water, so to speak. A couple of other recollections. That field had an approximately three-story high skeletal metal tower from which the band director or football coach could get a bird’s-eye view of his charges performance below and shout down instructions about how to do better on the next repetition. I can’t recall if they also took film from up there; but they might have done. Through until at least 1968, the only student parking for the four men’s (not yet coed/mixed gender) colleges (Baker, Will Rice, Weiss and Hanszen) was located in the part of the Stadium parking lot adjacent to the field in question. The only exception that I recall was a handful of spots in the small parking lots immediately adjacent to each college, usually around the food service loading dock. These circa 4-5 spots where reserved individually for resident senior college officers, at least at Baker. Finally, I am almost certain that the Rice Stadium field switched from grass to artificial turf sometime around the late 1960s. AstroTurf from Monsanto was the first version available. It was invented in 1965 and it’s first well-publicized use was in the Astrodome in 1966. The Astrodome was originally designed to use grass, but with alterations made to its glass roof to avoid problems with players losing sight of fly balls, they were unable to grow natural grass. It was, as I recall, AstroTurf was installed in Rice Stadium sometime during my years (1966-71) on campus. I have a clear recollection of playing in a semifinal or final touch football game for Baker College circa 1970 and the AstroTurf was in at that time. Indeed the following article says it was switched to AstroTurf in 1970. https://riceowls.com/facilities/rice-stadium/3