Sunday, August 02, 2015

University of Chicago

Today's posting closes out my four-part series (displayed sequentially below in separate postings) of visits to different Chicago college campuses during my late-June trip to the Windy City.

Situated in the South Side neighborhood of Hyde Park, home to President Barack Obama, is the University of Chicago. Before we get to the pictures I took in late June, this online self-rotating slideshow provides an aerial shot, showing the U of C's location relative to downtown Chicago. Even though the photo makes the university seem adjacent to downtown, in reality it is seven miles south.

U of C is an elite academic institution, on a par with Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and others of that echelon. According to the Wikipedia, "89 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with the university as visiting professors, students, faculty, or staff, the fourth most of any institution in the world. In addition, Chicago's alumni include 49 Rhodes Scholars, 9 Fields Medalists [an award for top mathematicians under age 40], 13 National Humanities Medalists and 13 billionaire graduates."

Chicago does not appear to be as well-known to public as other elite schools, however, perhaps because it does not compete in Division I athletics. Chicago once did, as a member of the Big Ten conference. The first Heisman Trophy winner, Jay Berwanger, played for U of C, and one of the all-time great football coaches, Amos Alonzo Stagg, plied his trade there. In the 1930s, however, President Robert Maynard Hutchins eliminated football, claiming it to be incompatible with scholarly excellence (the sport was later restored at the lower-key Division III level).

The architecture alone is a treat at U of C, the Collegiate Gothic style all around. The history of the style is reviewed in this article, entitled "How Gothic Architecture Took Over the American College Campus."

To the left is Lawson Tower, part of the former Chicago Theological Seminary and now part of the conversion to the Saieh Hall for Economics (including the Becker-Friedman Institute for Research in Economics). Further architectural and historical background on Lawson Tower is available here.

Below is the Rockefeller Chapel (the university's founding was aided by the financial contributions of John D. Rockefeller), showing two wings of the building. The Chapel hosts a number of events, as detailed on its homepage. A beautiful shot of the interior is available here.

Among the more modern structures at U of C is the Oriental Institute Museum, a virtual tour of which is available here...

Nearby is the Main Quadrangle, combining lush lawns and gardens with yet additional attractive architecture (Eckhart and Rosenwald Halls are shown below)...

Traveling west, one exits the Quad by walking through a tunnel on the first floor of Edward H. Levi Hall. Levi was a legal scholar, U of C president, and Gerald Ford's U.S. Attorney General in the aftermath of Watergate (Wikipedia page). Levi Hall is the main university administration building, rededicated in his honor in 2013.

Upon exiting the Quad through the Levi passageway, one finds the U of C bookstore...

While I was in the bookstore, the previously moderate rain showers escalated into a torrential downpour, and I ended up getting soaked as I walked back to the Metra train to go back downtown. Still, it was a great experience!