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How the center of the KU campus has moved over 140-plus years
I don't know about you, but I've read just about enough words for today, so this blog entry will be a mostly visual one.
For our KU Today edition (coming in August!) I'm learning right now about the process of forming KU's new master plan, a map for how the KU campus might change over the next 10 to 15 years. KU is paying a planning firm about $1.2 million to go through the process, and folks at KU and the firm, as well as a variety of subcontractors, are poring over a wealth of information.
Jim Modig, KU's director of Design and Construction Management, shared some of that stuff with me last week. And I thought I'd share one piece of that with you: these maps that show in a simple but interesting way how much KU's campus has changed over the past 140-plus years.
Each one includes the boundaries of the campus, shown in blue, at a certain point in time, laid over a current-day map. Modig wasn't immediately able to fill me in on exactly what year each of these maps corresponds with, so I've included some rough guesses based on when buildings were built.
In each one, pay attention to where the red "plus" sign falls. That's the campus's geographical center. And as you'll see, it's moved a lot over the years.
When the first KU buildings were built in the late 1800s, the center (and the entire campus, really) was in the northeast, where Corbin and GSP residence halls are now:
In this map, which must be from around 1900, you can see things moving toward the south:
By this time — the 1920s or '30s, as far as I can tell — the campus still only stretched southward to Jayhawk Boulevard:
Next is one from, I think, around 1950. Now the center was right on the current site of Wescoe Hall:
By what seems to be sometime in the 1960s, the center was near Murphy Hall, on a part of the campus that didn't exist 30 or 40 years earlier:
And now, with the addition of KU's West Campus, the center is near the Burge Union and the nearby athletic complex:
And officials project it to continue to shift to the southwest as more development happens on the West Campus, where space is much more plentiful. And this is why this exercise is important for the master planners. The campus's center is nearing Iowa Street — and that's a point where, right now, it's pretty tough to cross from one side of the campus to the other by foot. That's not exactly ideal, so one of the problems the planners are considering is how to do more to merge the two campuses into one.
That's quite the obstacle they have to overcome. But for you, it's an excuse to look at some pictures late in the afternoon. Thank me by sending a KU news tip to firstname.lastname@example.org.