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1. Early Campus Views

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he State University at Berkeley, as legislators referred to it in the 1870s, was created as an amalgam of a mechanical and agricultural arts institute endowed by the Federal Morrill “land grant” Act of 1862, and the College of California, a private liberal arts academy organized in Oakland in 1853. The College’s president, the Rev. Henry Durant of Yale, became the first president of the State University in 1868.


The new institution relocated to Berkeley from Oakland in 1873. As these early views show, the University occupied a spacious, unhurried campus with a distinctly frontier flavor.


Berkeley was not yet a college for higher learning, the vibrant, unique center of education and research that it would one day become.



Early Campus View with Watchman's Cottage by J. D. Strong, 1874
Early Campus View with Watchman's Cottage by J. D. Strong, 1874

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Campus View by Carleton Watkins, 1874
Campus View by Carleton Watkins, 1874
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t the close of the 19th century, as yet unjacketed by growth and expansion, the campus slept dreamily between the gently undulating foothills and the San Francisco Bay, its slow rhythms paced by the horse-drawn carriages that moved people and things about town and by the unfinished slabs that would serve as the future home for elite academic programs.


Only a few buildings yet dotted the Berkeley campus, primarily those seen in these first campus views. Despite the modest presence, the physics program at Berkeley already cast a long shadow, occupying office, class or laboratory in more than half of the available buildings.


Postcard Panorama, 1903
Postcard Panorama, 1903
from left: Mechanics Building, A Portion of the Hearst Mining Building, North Hall, Mechanical Arts Building and Annex, Bacon Art and Library, Botany Building, South Hall, a Portion of Budd Hall
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Early Military Presence


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ecades later observers would comment much on the military’s influence on the organization of Berkeley’s Physics Department and the direction of its research activities. However, even as early as the turn of the century, the military had a conspicuous presence on campus. In this photograph from 1900, the military is conducting drills in front of North Hall.



Cadets Drilling Near North Hall, 1900
Cadets Drilling Near North Hall, 1900
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Outpaced by Growth

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n a crude attempt to keep up with California’s explosive growth during the late 19th century, the University often found it necessary to set up temporary facilities. Here, the Physics Department used tents as classrooms to house lecture courses. In addition to the unavoidable personal inconvenience of having to teach in a tent, members of the department often expressed frustration at having to pave a professional path in such an irregular academic environment.



Campus View from South with Tents for Instructional Purposes, ca. 1899
Campus View from South with Tents for Instructional Purposes, ca. 1899

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