Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More About the 1906 Earthquake

Hey Josh,
It's funny that you ran across that website. The centennial was during my junior year of high school and I did my final research paper for AP US on the 1906 earthquake in the South Bay. While there is tons of information about the earthquake's destruction in SF and the East Bay (where I'm from), there is very little information about earthquake and the South Bay. I had to visit Stanford and multiple libraries/museums in the area to find enough information to write a 10 page paper. In my research I discovered that Stanford tried to conceal information about the earthquake's damage in order to preserve its reputation. Supposedly they did this in the May 1906 Alumni Magazine. It would be really interesting if we could try and find it... 

Here are a few snippets from my paper (it's my junior year writing so I am a bit embarrassed...)  

Many people are unaware that the 1906 Earthquake had any impact on the South Bay, but the Santa Clara Valley was well established by 1906 and felt the effects of the earthquake just as much as San Francisco did. By 1906 the Santa Clara Valley was mainly composed of small agricultural towns inhabited by European and Asian immigrants. San Jose was the largest city in the Santa Clara Valley and California’s fifth largest, with 25,000 inhabitants. San Jose was a modern city, complete with public works buildings, schools, parks, three daily newspapers, a business center and water, gas, and electrical systems. Leland Stanford Junior University, located in Palo Alto, had a reputation as one of the finest educational centers in California. St. Agnew’s Insane Asylum, as previously mentioned, was located in the small town of St. Agnew’s Station, a part of modern day Santa Clara. (Its Our Fault Too. Branson 145)  
Palo Alto, the city adjacent to Stanford University, experienced some of the worst structural damage in the entire South Bay. Every single business building in the city experienced at least some damage; the new $30,000 Thiels Building and Fuller’s Building fell to the ground. Almost every chimney in the city fell and St. Patrick’s Seminary was badly damaged. The damage at Stanford University was much worse. At the time of the earthquake Stanford was a young school, of less than twenty years, and many of its buildings were seriously damaged. The structural damage amounted to over $2 million dollars as the new, unfinished neoclassical gym and library collapsed, far beyond repair. The 10-story memorial arch lost a corner, the Quadrangle’s front entrance was destroyed, and the sandstone gates at the entrance of the school completely collapsed. The sight of the destroyed Memorial Church devastated many students, and the damage was so severe that it took seven years to repair. (Curran 6. How Stanford Fell in Heaps. Its Our Fault Too)

Only two lives, a student’s, Junius R. Hanna, and a workman’s, Ottto Gerdes, were lost. If the earthquake had occurred during the day as students were out and about on campus the loss of life would have been much more significant. Initially following the earthquake, President Jordan announced that school would restart the week after the earthquake, but after the damage was ascertained, school was postponed until the following fall semester. (Bartholomew 59)  

Stanford students’ responses were mixed but many experienced fear and had a desire to help. Georgina Lyman, a junior English major at the time, wrote a letter to her family in Arkansas describing the initial damage.  

At first the destruction didn’t impress me for I was so thankful there had been no great loss of life. But after we had walked around the buildings and fully saw the church. It is too dreadful to describe. I can’t dwell on it. I could not stand it longer when I turned from the Memorial church and looked out through the memorial court… Everything is twisted and wrecked. The top grill from the arch—all, all is destruction. Even if I had the power of the greatest writer on earth, I could not describe it. (Bartholomew 58)  

This letter expresses the initial response of a student and demonstrates how severe the damage from the earthquake was, even though there was no fire. Students were housed in tents for weeks and many students received passes from President Jordan and ventured to San Francisco to help with the relief effort. (Bartholomew 61)...  

Many people do not know of the earthquake damage at Stanford University because the University itself tried to conceal the damage. The damage to Stanford University was extreme, and the University dedicated their May 1906 Alumnus magazine to try and suppress the rumors of damage to maintain its reputation. The University asked its alumni throughout the country to spread the word that Stanford was not devastated and to try to rebuild its reputation. This May Alumnus edition may be one of the reasons why the damage to Stanford University seems hidden in media coverage of the 1906 earthquake, but the destruction of the earthquake was very severe and exemplifies how serious an earthquake, without a fire, can be. (Bartholomew 59)  


PS- If you are interested in the earthquake look into the stories about St. Agnews Insane Asylum.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summer Changes

I came back to Stanford last weekend to start my summer work and classes, and it's been pretty interesting seeing the changes that the campus is undergoing. The construction in White Plaza is kind of crazy; having nearly the entire area dug under and fenced off makes me appreciate its contribution to campus aesthetics (lol) a LOT more. There are also many more tourists and kids from different campus running around campus, which creates a rather different atmosphere around here versus when it was filled with college-aged kids during the regular academic year. Oh, the CoHo is back, too! So far everything I've had there has been yummy, and though some people say that a new CoHo doesn't necessarily resurrect the spirit of the old one, I think it's admirable that Stanford listened to students' desires to bring it back. I also heard about the HSM 3 filming. Apparently that was going on in the Quad. I didn't get to see it myself, though.

Basically, these are just a bunch of random observations, but my point is on how so many different factors blend together to create a really unique vibe to the campus. It's essentially the same campus now during the summer, but it feels very, very different with everything going on...


Future of residences on campus

A while back President Hennessey spoke in Branner Hall. One of the residents asked him if its true that in the future Branner is going to become graduate residences. I think he responded that Stanford's long term plans in terms of housing are that basically as freshmen we all have the same kind of housing instead of the discrepancies we have now, so Branner wont remain all frosh anymore. Wilbur and Stern will be broken down and along with Crothers will become UG housing. Im not so sure about the rest. But they are planning a lot of changes to deal with the increase in numbers of the freshman class. 
It is weird to think that maybe 10 or 20 years from now, the dorms we live in might not be there at all!


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Stanford in the College World Series

I don't know how many people followed the baseball team through the CWS in Omaha these past few days but we had some pretty exciting games!  The most notable being the ninth inning against Florida State when we scored 11 runs in one inning, tying the CWS record for team runs in an inning. Unfortunately, yesterday we lost our second game to Georgia putting us out of the series.  There was a great comeback at the end but it wasn't enough to put Stanford back in the game.  So, just in case you missed it those are the big highlights!  Here are links for more details about those specific games if you're interested :)  
Oh, and what is this about High School Musical 3 being filmed on campus this summer???


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

1906 Earthquake

In 1906, a destructive earthquake hit the San Francisco area, causing enormous damage to the Stanford campus. I came across this interesting and very thorough site about the quake in relation to campus:

There are a couple of extremely interesting parts of the site. First, the gallery of pictures of buildings shows us that, before the earthquake, a) some buildings we see today were different, b) some buildings were destroyed completely, c) and the layout of campus was not the same as it is now.

Differences: Memorial Church had a huge gothic spire and the front of the Quad had an enormous arch that needs to be seen to be believed. While the arch looks ludicrous to most of us, it had a very intricately carved frieze around the top that depicted the "Progress of Civilization in America." Destroyed: The Old Chem Building survived, but its neighbors the Gymnasium and the Library didn't make it. The architectural style of these buildings was much more classical than the Spanish style that prevails on campus. Layout: All of these buildings surrounded the Oval, indicating that the Oval was more of a campus hub than it is today. Also, original blueprints of the university (on this site as well) show that the original idea included two smaller quads directly adjacent to each side of the main quad.

Secondly, the gallery of pictures of people gives us more information about those involved in the quake. Two people died in the quake: a student in Encina Hall, the male dormitory (now home of the Political Science department) and the fireman, who went to cut power to campus to prevent a fire. Also, we can see all of the people who were involved in making decisions regarding the reconstruction of campus.

Lastly, there is a detailed walking tour that takes you through everything around campus through and after the earthquake. Check it out.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

McGilvray & MemChu

Hey everyone!

I don’t know how familiar you all are with some of the architecture around campus but I found some information on Stanford’s first stone contractor, John Duff McGilvray. McGilvray was born in Scotland in 1847. While my sources provide different information about when he first came to America to learn his trade (looks like it was sometime around 1868-1870), he didn’t start working for the Stanfords until 1898. At Stanford, McGilvray built the original Memorial Church and its post-1906 earthquake reconstructed version, the Outer Quad, the Chemistry Building, and the gymnasium (across Palm Drive from the museum; destroyed in 1906.) But his legacy isn’t invoked only when you’re biking by MemChu: some of his other California projects included one of the early San Francisco opera houses, the current San Francisco City Hall, San Francisco’s Flood Building, and the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange. How cool!


Dreams Die Hard

Hey all!

I've been reading Dreams Die Hard, and highly recommend that you at least read the first few chapters—they deal a ton with the history of Stanford.  Specifically, there's much discussion of Stern hall, which in the early 60's was considered the lamest of alternatives to living in a fraternity.  Allard Lowenstein, who is one of the major characters in the  book, played a big role in trying to change the perception of Stern hall on campus.  It's really interesting stuff.

I did some quick browsing online and found a helpful university-run webpage that gives short descriptions about the role that Stanford's presidents played in the development of the university.  It's pretty interesting stuff:

Hope all is well, and that the beginnings of summer have found you well-rested!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

hopkins marine station

hey all, don't know if you've started reading 1891, but one of the people that starts figuring in the plot around pg 130 is timothy hopkins, the adopted son of a railroad magnate. founder of palo alto and namesake of our marine station in monterey, he's a pretty cool guy!