Monday, May 17, 2010

Road Trip - Stanford Style

It's rare that I would take a weekend road trip, because there is so much to do here in LA. But last weekend I had the opportunity to attend an event in Nor Cal in the Palo Alto area, an area which I haven't visited since I was a sophomore in college, decades ago. I was curious to see how much it had changed, especially after the rise of tech power in Silicon Valley and the uber wealth of Sand Hill Road. Surprisingly, Palo Alto hasn't changed much. It is still a charming little town nestled against the foothills and dominated by the amazing Stanford campus.

Is Stanford the most beautiful school in California? Probably. Planned by the great Frederick Law Olmstead, the Italianate architecture with it's open colonnades, carved arches, balustrades and tiled roofs, makes you think more of Renaissance Italy, than post gold rush California.

And, unlike Southern California which is infected with urban sprawl, pretty much wherever you look you find a verdant view. It's a little hard to imagine the enormous advances in science and technology that have come out of such a peaceful pastoral place.

I'm still not sure what's up with the the need to put a giant bell tower on what seems, every college and university campus in Northern California.
Mills has its elegantly simple campanile designed by the brilliant Julia Morgan in 1904.
Berkeley has its beautiful Beaux-Art Sather Tower constructed in 1914.
So of course Stanford has its "mine is bigger and better than yours" fabulously phallic Hoover Tower built in 1941.
(Yes, I could make some inappropriate architectural double entendre remarks here but I'm just going to let it go)
From the architectural to the political, has anyone besides me wondered what happens to all that brain power that emanates from Stanford? Why are the highest offices in our federal government disproportionately stocked with Harvard and Yale grads? Is there something specific about Stanford that sends graduates off to do, or to create, rather than to govern? I'm just curious.
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Michael St. James said...

Pretty campus, but it has NOTHING on the University of Virginia! ;-) Maybe, its location in CA contributes to the lack of Stanford grads working in public office??? Instead, they make billions on the internet.

Belle de Ville said...

Michael, you're right. UVA has a magnificent campus! As does William & Mary.

teawithonesugarplease said...

Amazing photos who knew this place existed apart from in Italy! I've tagged you at my blog x

Couture Carrie said...

Oh how cool ~ I didn't know that Olmstead planned Stanford!


LPC said...

The Stanford grads go off to start Yahoo and Google and Intel and HP et. alia. Driving the engine of the American economy. We'll let everyone else deal with the administration and regulation:).

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